Archive for May, 2008

Weeds (by Linda)

From time to time Linda, my wife, has something she wants to write and publish but it isn’t often enough to warrant getting her own blog, though she is the creator, photographer and writer for our dog’s blog My name is Jake (don’t tell our grandboys that Jake doesn’t write it).  So, when she has something I love to post it here because she has good things to say and you really seem to like reading it.  What follows is something she wrote.  I know it will bless you.

Sunday I was walking around the church property, thinking about what needed to be done before the Camp of Champions started. I saw all kinds of things that needed doing, from fencing on the ground needing to be put away to little bits of trash needing to be picked up, but my eyes lit on the weeds. I was reminded of how, when we lived in our house (now we live in a fifth wheel) and we were about to have people over, I would weed my little heart out – thinking I had to get all of those weeds pulled – what kind of gardener would people think I was, after all? God said to me, there are always going to be weeds in a garden/yard, just as there will always be “weeds” in your life – things that need to be pulled- taken out…your garden was never perfect – your life won’t be either… AND that’s okay! Remember, just as you had to let perfection in your garden go, you have to let perfection in your life go. You are loved and accepted just the way you are.

That was Sunday, this morning Jake was outside playing with another dog. He jumped up on the dog’s owner and started to bark. Many of the dogs here on the property during the Camp of Champions run next to their masters without a leash – Jake cannot do that. They don’t jump on people or bark, but Jake does more than I like. Get the picture? As I was comparing Jake to other dogs, I was reminded of how we judge and are judged on how our dogs act. If they act appropriately, then we are judged to be good owners. God said to me, you are unique, so is Jake. No one knows his personality or the relationship you have with him. It isn’t up to anyone else to evaluate the job you are doing with your dog. That led me to quickly remember the pressure that we felt as parents for how are kids acted – especially in public. Good behavior = good parents (the goal). God said, be gentle with parents; each child is unique, just as each parent is. Raising a child is difficult work in this world – perfection isn’t the goal, relationship is. Pray, don’t judge. Encourage, support, love. That’s what I do with you; you can’t do anything less for others.

I believe that these two illustrations came from my Father out of my working to memorize Psalm 103. I’m thankful for the truth of verses 8-14. “The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve. For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens are above the earth. He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust.”

God knows me – I deserve to be treated harshly: I make mistakes, I’m weak, broken. But God loves me anyway; He is for me, He is my Father, and I am His child. It’s really easy to assess how others are doing, trying to hold them to a standard that makes me feel better about myself. Living in the truth of those verses allows me to be gentle with myself and, thus, others. Judging others, for any reason, can’t be part of who I am. What about you?

 

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May 29, 2008 at 4:42 pm 4 comments

Camp of Champions.

Sayre, Oklahoma

This week is Camp of Champions (CoC) week on the Trinity “Ranch”.  Our little preserve is now full up with horse trailers, horses, girls of all ages, parents and dozens of volunteers.  There are people camped all over the property, in horse trailers with little apartments in the front, about 50 girls under 16 in the bunkhouse, their horses in the barn or in small pens all around the barn, and another 30 horses or so that belong to the approxamately 20 professional rodeo instructors that come each year to teach the various girls rodeo events, including goat tying, breakaway calf roping, and barrel racing.  What is usually a quiet, 100 acre retreat is alive with action as girls, horses, calves, goats and instructors fill up the arena, roping pen and area around the barn with, practice, one on one and group instruction while parents, volunteers and others watch the action.

There are a number of famous rodeo people here this week many of whom I have gotten to know, but since rodeo is not something I have much history in, I am more impressed with their character and spiritual commitments than I am their rodeo accomplishments, though those are impressive.  These people, at the top of what is a very competitive sport, take time away to come and pass on what they know and who they are to the next generation of rodeo athletes.  Cody Custer, Charlie and Lorissa Kingsbury, Paul and Robin Tierney, Corey and Melissa Navarre, Tamera Reinhardt, Stran Smith, DJ Domangue, Allen Bach, Royd and Tracie Doyal, Stacie LaFluer, Frank Newsom, Rope Myers, Sarah Zybach, Cole Taylor, and many others teach from their knowlege and experience the ins and outs of their specialties.  Lee and Mary Akin and Jada are camped next to us.  Lee isn’t instructing this year but he is here and taking part as he continues to improve.

Rodeo for kids is big out here.  Linda and I went to a junior bull riding Saturday held at the Flying W Guest Ranch just north of us.  It was fun to watch the littlest cowboys ride sheep, called mutton bustin, the next age ride calves, then steers and finally the oldest boys riding serious bulls.  Information here. Our friends Cody and Stacey’s son Brett, won a first and a second during the day, and took home about $150.00.  Youth rodeo is the only sport I know where you can make a little money if you win or place.  Imagine a professional at 10!  The type of event is real different than the sports our children were involved in, but everything else is the same.  Parents bringing their children to the game, sitting in their lawn chairs watching and many involved in running the events, just like it was for us with soccer, baseball, football and basketball, 10-15 years ago.

Camp of Champions is one of, if not the largest, rodeo Bible camps anywhere.  I think it is in its 8th year and continues to grow each year in reaching girls and boys through great event instruction and mentoring youth in the Kingdom.  Small Bible study groups are held twice a day and a large group service with testimonies from the professionals closes out the day.  There have been hundreds of young people impacted with the Good News during the years CoC has been running and the camp continues to be the biggest outreach for Trinity each year.

The weather is hot, humid and tornado sightings, watches and warnings were all around us last night, the girls were even herded into the basement for a time last night, but the enthusiasm is high for everyone.  The girls camp finishes up tomorrow afternoon and the boys come in Thursday morning.  Even though our quiet little place is disturbed, big time, it is really a fun time here on the ranch!

Click HERE for a slide show of the camp and junior rodeo.  Look for the little “movie screen” in the upper right corner and click on it to view the pics as a slide show.

 

May 27, 2008 at 5:02 pm 4 comments

Tornadic activity.

Welcome to Tornado Alley! Yesterday afternoon we had our first tornadic activity  that was close to us.  Not only was it close it was along a line we have travelled several times, as we have gotten to know the area.  You can watch a related video HERE.  The video starts with a commercial but quickly gets to the storm which built up in the Texas Panhandle and quickly moved in a northeast direction, just brushing past Sayre, but hitting full force in the town of Cheyenne, about 30 miles north of us.  Tornadic activity gets the TV stations here hopping like any kind of severe weather does in other areas. 

They have storm chasers, literally chasing after the storm, watching for circulation, funnel clouds, rapidly rotating wall clouds, wind shear, appendages coming down and other things that indicated tornados are forming.  They put helicopters in the sky and broadcast the activity pretty much non stop until the danger passes.  We heard them say as the storm moved on, one little town after another “people in Berlin, Cheyenne, Strong City… you need to go right now to your safe place, storm cellar or basement.  Move away from windows…” We have watched these broadcasts before but they were originating on the other side of the state so it wasn’t a big deal to us but these broadcasts were coming from an area just a few miles north of us. 

Tornadic activity has spawned a whole vocabulary of its own, like tornadic activityMeso cylcones, super cells, wall clouds, rain wrapped ( means the tornado is wrapped in rain and so dark you can’t see it spinning-very dangerous since you don’t know its there).  They say things like “could tornado at any time” and “surface winds don’t look right” and “that one looks more tightly wrapped”.  If you would like to know more about these violent storms just type “tornado” into your search engine and you will find plenty.  Here is a place to start.

We have a little weather radio that comes on automatically, and makes some ominous noises before telling us the National Weather Service has issued some type of warning for the fairly large area that we are in.  Sometimes it begins with a warning of severe thunderstorm activity, because these storms have the potential to spawn tornadoes.  Then comes a tornado watch, which means that tornadoes are possible followed by a tornado warning, which means there has been a tornado sighted and you need to get to shelter. 

These storms carry heavy rain and a variety of sizes of hail.  Sometimes they speak of the size using coins to show the diameter, dime, nickel, quarter.  Then it graduates to golf ball size, baseball and my favorite, grapefruit sizeThink of it, grapefruit size hail!  I guess there is even softball size. There actually was hail the size of grapefruit in the storm that came though yesterday.  Our trailer would be ripped to shreds by hail that size.  These storms also produce lightning that causes grass fires and there were wind speeds of over 125mph yesterday.  That combination of fire and wind isn’t a good thing.

As I understand it, this time of year the jet stream begins to push these violent storms farther to the north but, you they can spawn anytime, when it is hot and humid so we “outsiders” stay on alert while the “natives” watch the sky and go about their business.

We watch Jake the Dog pretty carefully so he doesn’t end up in the Land of OZ.

It’s a great time to visit, we can go chase a tornado!

 

May 23, 2008 at 9:02 am 2 comments

Kingdom.16 Called out ones.

One of the biggest problems we have understanding what the Kingdom is and what the Father’s intention is related to it, is confusing Kingdom with the church.  The church and the Kingdom are not synonymous.  The Kingdom is not a religious system, an institution or something that can be organized into committees or study groups.  If we are to capture this culture with true Kingdom values and invite people into relationships with Kingdom people that mirror in their lives what it is to relate to God as Father, we are going to need to start using terms that are unique and don’t carry the baggage that the word “church” does.  You mention church to most people in this country today and they will have a picture in their mind of something that doesn’t bear much resemblance to what Jesus had in mind for the people who would take His name and advance His Kingdom.  Once they have that picture in their heads it is very hard to try and explain that Jesus had a plan for His followers and for those who are seeking truth, quite different than “church”.

When the New Testament writers referred to this group of people who were passionate about Jesus, steadily advancing the Kingdom through a radical lifestyle of relationships, servant hood, sacrifice and living out the values of the Kingdom that Jesus taught, they chose the word Ekklesia.  Like most Greek nouns ekklesia is a combination of two words,  a preposition, ek-meaning “out of” and a form of the verb kaleo-meaning “to call”.  In a literal sense the word means “people who are called out”.

The word was commonly used to refer to any group of people who were ouside the mainstream of the culture but were having some kind of effect on the culture, good and/or bad.  Three times in the Scripture, ekklesia was used to refer to a group of people gathered into a mob or gang.  It often was used in reference to any group of people, called out from a larger group, to form another group for some purpose, whether to riot, lead a city, or even to be part of the Roman senate.

But when the followers of Jesus began to refer to themselves as the Ekklesia they were describing the bond they had together in Christ.  The word took on special meaning when Jesus said “I will build my ekklesia” referring to the spiritual gathering together of those who He had called out. 

Called out of what?  But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation. a special people; that you should show forth the praises of Him, who has called you out of (koleo humas ek) darkness into His marvelous light. (1Peter 2:9)

The word translated church has nothing to do with a building.  The writers of the New Testament had a perfectly good word available to them that they could have used, had they wanted to communicate a place where people gathered, or a religious institution (kuriokos-house of the Lord).  But they never chose that word, instead they chose a word, more than 115 times, that communicated something much different than we think of, when we hear the word church today.  Ekklesia is a spiritual fellowship of all those whom Jesus has called out of spiritual darkness to walk together in union with Him.  This relationship of called out people transcends time, place, gender, race, age, culture, and includes all true followers of Jesus, Who, has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world.” (Ephesians 1:4)

I don’t know that the word Ekklesia will catch on as the descriptive word for the Family that is serving together to advance the Kingdom, around the world, but it more defines something that the word “church” no longer does.  Words matter, because they communicate meaning, and meaning is what defines what and who we are. 

I for one do not want what I am investing my life in, to be thought of as a building or a gathering place for uptight, bigoted people, religious institution or a group of religious men sitting around building hoops for others to jump through.  But isn’t that what most people think of when they think of “church”?  It sounds similar to what the “church” was in Jesus day, doesn’t it?  No wonder He created something else.

More on the Ekklesia in future posts.

May 20, 2008 at 10:30 am 3 comments

Monday morning meanderings. Vol.45

Sayre, Oklahoma.

Every where we keep tabs, the weather is great.  Northwest, Utah, Arizona and here in Oklahoma there is a heat wave going on.  It is suppose to be 99 here today.  The downside?  It gets real dry here, very fast and so without some rain it can burn up really quick.  Where we pray for the rain to stop in Washington, we pray for it to start here.

Item one.  After this week I promise to not mention American Idol but one last prediction.  I have said all along that David A. will be tough to beat but David C. has really earned his spot in the big finale. I just don’t think there are enough people that appreciate how well rounded musically, David Cook is, to offset the young girls who can’t get enough of David A. singing with his eyes closed.  Cute is nice, but I predict David C. goes further than David A. in the real world.  What’s your pick?

Item two.  Many of us here at Trinity are watching (now and again) and talking about (regularly) the Todd Bentley,  Florida Healing Outpouring going into its 8th week, (I think) in Florida.  We know some who have gone and what we see on GodTV makes us both sceptical and hungry at the same time.  I am not sure what I think, but Kingdom Grace has a good post on the subject that resonates with me.  Check it out here.  You might want to look at this excellent message video too, if you want another point of view.  HERE. Any thoughts on this one?  (for firsthand view of events in Florida see the comment by Sumi to this post)

Item three.  One of the nice things about blogging is the opportunity it provides to keep family, who live away from you, updated on your life.  It is easy to post pictures and write short articles that people any where in the world can access.  I have told you about our kids blogs (here and here and here-they don’t post as much as I would like, especially pictures, Traci does have a new one) and mentioned two or three others that are of this type.  One of the best “family” blogs, I have found, is written by our friend Kaylee Wagner, a transplanted Northwestern girl, now living in the desert of Arizona.  Check it out, it might encourage you to do one for your family.  Find it here.

Item four. Keeping up with my friend SumiShe and her family are learning to live without their little girl Jenna.  She writes so well about what it is to go through such an excruciating loss.  There are no words to describe the loss of a child but she does an admirable job helping us to understand.  Read it here.

Item five. After 5 posts on the Holy Spirit I thought the words of Henri Nouwen’s devo from yesterday was appropriate:

When we speak about the Holy Spirit, we speak about the breath of God, breathing in us. The Greek word for “spirit” is pneuma, which means “breath.” We are seldom aware of our breathing. It is so essential for life that we only think about it when something is wrong with it.

The Spirit of God is like our breath. God’s spirit is more intimate to us than we are to ourselves. We might not often be aware of it, but without it we cannot live a “spiritual life.” It is the Holy Spirit of God who prays in us, who offers us the gifts of love, forgiveness, kindness, goodness, gentleness, peace, and joy. It is the Holy Spirit who offers us the life that death cannot destroy. Let us always pray: “Come, Holy Spirit, come.”

I do not have enough details to even write about it here, but my pastor friends, mentors, missionaries and dear servants, Dennis and Diane Teagueare returning today, from the Philippines to be at the bedside of their very ill daughter, Lydia.  Even if you do not know them, please pray for them today.  A miracle is needed.

Stories like Sumi’s, the Myanmar and China tragedies and what the Teague family is facing, even as I write this, should be enough for us to choose to live each day knowing it is a gift from the Father, to be enjoyed as we serve His interests in this world. 

May 19, 2008 at 8:27 am 2 comments

Friday Funny-Redneck jokes.

When we were in Washington a couple of weeks ago someone asked me why I hadn’t done any redneck jokes for my Friday Funny since we are currently located in what they believed to be the center of the redneck universe.  My response is the one Pastor Andy gives when he talks about rednecks: “those redneck jokes hurt our feelings”!

But I thought I would run a few out there today even though I know right away I am going to alienate a good portion of my readers.  Maybe later we will do some liberal jokes for the people of the NW.

YOU MIGHT BE A REDNECK IF….

Your house still has the “WIDE LOAD” sign on the back. 
You think Possum is “The Other White Meat”
You think a quarter horse is a ride out in front of
the Wal-Mart.
You think safe sex is a padded headboard.
You think subdivision is part of a math problem.
Taking your wife on a cruise means circling the Dairy
Queen.

You think the last words to The Star Spangled Banner
are “Gentlemen, start your engines.”
You believe dual air bags refer to your wife and
mother-in-law.
You’ve got more than one brother named ‘Darryl’.
You think fast food is hitting a possum at 65 mph.
You have a bumper sticker that says, “MY MOTHER’S AN HONOR STUDENT AT SOUTH LITTLE ROCK JR. HIGH.” Your family tree has no forks.
You have refused to watch the Academy Awards since
“Smokey and the Bandit” was snubbed for best picture.
You consider your license plate personalized because
your dad made it in prison.
The third grade teacher says little Bubba could be a
mathematical genius because he’s got thirteen fingers.
You have to go outside to get something out of the
‘fridge.
A seven course meal is a bucket of KFC and a sixpack.
Someone asks to see your ID and you show them your
belt buckle.
Your dad walks you to school because you are both in
the same grade.
Your house doesn’t have curtains, but your truck does.
You need one more hole punched in your card to get a
freebie at the House of Tattoos.
On your first date you had to ask your Dad to borrow
the keys to the tractor.
If you refer to the fifth grade as, “your senior
year”.
You’ve ever climbed a water tower with a bucket of
paint to defend your sister’s honor.
It’s easier to spray weed killer on your lawn than mow
it.
You think the three primary colors are John Deere
Green, Ford Blue, and Primer Gray.
You’ve been on TV more than 5 times describing the
sound of a tornado.
You dated your daddy’s current wife in high school.
Your aunt and your grandmother went to the funeral and
had a fight over who gets to be the widow.
You’re a lite beer drinker ’cause you start drinkin’
beer when it gets light.

You think the stock market has fence around it.
You think a woman who is “out of your league” bowls on
a different night.
Your brother-in-law is your uncle AND your
grandfather.
You believe that beef jerky and Moon Pies are two of
the major food groups.
You stare at an orange juice container because it
says, “CONCENTRATE”.
Your idea of high quality entertainment is a six pack and a bug-zapper.
You think “taking out the trash” means taking your
in-laws to a movie.
Your coffee table used to be a cable spool.
The taillight covers of your car are made of red tape.
You have every episode of Hee-Haw on tape.
You’ve ever been involved in a custody fight over a
hunting dog.
Your kids take a siphon hose to “Show and Tell.”
You think a hot tub is a stolen bathroom fixture.
The gas pedal on your car is shaped like a bare foot.
You think the French Riviera is a foreign car.
You think that Dom Perignon is a mafia leader.
Your wife’s hairdo was once ruined by a ceiling fan.
Your Junior/Senior Prom had a Daycare.
Your child’s first words were “Attention K-Mart
shoppers!”
You do your serious Christmas shopping at the Flying J truck stop.
You wish your outhouse was as nice as those at the
state park.
You think the winter olympic sport of curling is part
of the “Big Hair” competition.
You have more belt-buckles than pants.
You removed the back seat from your car so all yer
kids could fit in.

That’s it. I am not hurting my friends feelings anymore, just to get a few laughs! Have a wonderful weekend!

 

May 16, 2008 at 9:34 am 4 comments

Kingdom.15 “So what?”

Someone asked me these questions the other day; “why the emphasis on tongues?”  “Isn’t the Holy Spirit about more than tongues?”  Good questions, both.  The emphasis is because it is quite new to me, and I am wanting to work the “theology” out for myself and since I am appropriately convinced they haven’t ceased, then there must be value to the practice. Of course, the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit are much more than one manifestation.

Having gotten to a place in my Spiritual journey where I am not encumbered with denominational or employment pressures to hold certain positions on any Biblical doctrine, I am trying to sort out these “controversial” subjects in a way that will enhance my walk in the Spirit.  When the whole of the Biblical teaching on a subject is so weighted in one direction, when a good hermeneutic is brought to the reading (ie:let the text say what it says), I don’t believe it is honest to dismiss this teaching because it is uncomfortable or controversial. By the way, there are many “non-Pentecostal/Charismatics” (poor labels) who do not buy into the cecessionist teaching, prominent in the denominational structure I was raised in.  (Reformed, Baptist pastor, John Piper being one, of note.)

So with this posting I will bring the subject to a close.  I am confident that I am reading the Scriptures correctly, that the manifestation gifts, including speaking in an unknown language, are still for today and I am also confident that the Bible teaches there is a second experience with the Spirit, after the Spirit seals us at conversion, that is out of the ordinary.  Not just an inference from having believed, but an experience one can look back on and say “I know the Spirit has come into my life because “this” happened.  In five of the six places where the Spirit falls in the book of Acts, and an experience follows, that experience is speaking in an unknown language. (See Kingdom.13 and .14)

When I was preaching on a regular basis, I would finish writing a message and ask myself questions like these: “So what?”  “What is it I want these people to remember?”  “To take with them?”  “What difference should it make in the listener to have heard this message?”  I think answering those questions made me a better communicator and helped my listeners to get the point, more often than not.

So after 2.5 posts on the subject of speaking in an unknown language-“So what?” Here are a few things that answer that question for me:

  • As the Apostle Paul concludes his teaching letter on this subject, (1Corinthians 14:39) He writes: “…don’t forbid speaking in tongues.”  Perhaps you or I can refuse a gift, but you go against a direct statement of Scripture when you forbid it to be a part of some one elses experience with the Father.
  • Often what it means to truly “walk in the Spirit” seems strange or weird to us.  If it is really out of the ordinary, makes little logical sense, is hard or humbling, it is probably God.  He uses the “foolish things… to confound the wise”. 
  • We are to “stay in step with the Spirit”.  Staying in step has to do with obedience and when we are open to receive from the Spirit what He wants to give us, we obey and when we obey we get more.
  • Speaking in tongues builds us up (1Corinthians 14:4)  We all need our spiritual batteries recharged and apparently manifesting this gift provides recharging.  Jude 20 “…build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.”
  • There seems to be two types of praying: with the mind and in the Spirit.  Praying in the Spirit is, according to Paul, speaking to God (1Corinthians 14:2).  Getting ones mind out of the picture and praying the language of angels (1Corinthians 13:1) provides a direct link to the Father that forming words in the mind does not.
  • The supernatural is a draw to the “yet to believe”.  See Acts 8.
  • Praying in the Spirit brings a protective covering from the enemy’s attack.  In Paul’s teaching on the armor of God in Ephesians 6, he concludes with this statement: …and pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.  Cover yourself with the armor but add to that armor, praying in the Spirit.
  • When I do not know how to pray and am weak in body and mind Romans 8:26-27 tells me the Spirit, Himself prays for us when we don’t know how or what to pray.  It goes on to say that the Father understands what the Spirit is saying through us, so as to bring us into harmony with the will of the Father.
  • It was the desire of the Apostle Paul that all in the church in Corinth would speak in tongues (14:5)  While some take that to mean not all did speak in tongues, it might also mean that the Apostle, writing the words the Spirit chose for him to write, is longing for all of us to enjoy the benefits of a spiritual language.

There are other Scriptures that answer the “so what” question and there are other benefits to speaking in an unknown language but I will stop with these.  I am certain I have crossed a line for some of my readers with these posts and I am also certain that for others who read the Juniper View, I have not gone far enough

But in what way have I been unfaithful to the Biblical text or brought a faulty hermeneutic to this teaching? 

 

 

May 15, 2008 at 9:40 am 3 comments

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