Archive for January, 2009

Dear Ted and Gayle,

Dear Ted and Gayle,

You don’t know us, but we are Family.  We are Family because we have the same Father who loves us no matter what we have done or what we have failed to do.  We are also Family because we have shared a similar road from a position of influence and ministry that we loved, to a very lonely place of humiliation and exile.  Choices always have consequences and for those of us in positions of Christian leadership they seem to have greater consequences than those assigned to the people who we served.  We don’t think it is right but at least the church is consistent.

We just wanted to tell you we are proud of both of you.  What happened to you was horrible and yet you are still standing in faith and hope, believing and walking out your conviction that no matter what happens, your Father will be there for you.  Thank you for showing us all that we can trust Him in the very darkest of times.

We are proud of you for speaking the truth about your experiences from the desperate to the hopeful.  It makes us all confident we can, and will make it, when our lives go in the tank.  Thank you for being honest about who you are and the darkness you have faced and continue to face.  Every Christian has dark places, but most don’t have to tell the world about them.  You have both faced your darkness with dignity and grace and as a result there is a bright light shining from you to those of us who really need it.

Gayle, thank you for doing the right thing when everyone and everything shouted to you to do what everyone else thinks they would do.  Love is always seen best when given under circumstances that shout to withhold it.  “Standing by your man” makes no sense apart from a Kingdom perspective that calls for honoring commitments and loving “until death do you part.”  There is no question you would have been cared for by the church in more demonstrative and needed ways, had you left Ted, but your actions speak so clearly about what grace and love really are.  Bless you.

Ted, everything you said for all those years, that God used to change a whole lot of people, were true then and they are still true today.  I don’t know why it is that people think we were somehow lying when we spoke truth into their lives, just because we were struggling to walk it out in our own experience, just like they were.  I don’t ever remember preaching a message that didn’t work on me first and I didn’t always get it applied either. Your gifts and your calling have not been revoked, even if the church you gave your heart to has revoked them.  Your Father has not. You have much more to offer the Family then you did before and we would not hesitate to sit under your teaching.  Truth is truth and truth offered in the crucible of reality is much more effective than what is run out there in most churches, Sunday after Sunday.

We all have a dark side, it is called the natural.  You know this as well as anyone.  We make choices everyday to choose life in the natural, out of our old nature or life in the spiritual, fueled by our new nature.  The enemy who rules the dark side, hates our guts, hates the Kingdom and He hates our King.  Our dark side is very complex and all of our past life plays in to what provides fuel for it.  I don’t understand why we sometimes do things we hate and don’t always choose righteousnes, but we are in good company. (see the last few verses of Romans 7)  The leaders of your church have a dark side along with the rest of us.  People like those of us who fail in a big and public ways make them feel very uncomfortable about the darkness in them.  That’s why they left you on the outside.

One thing I have seen time and time again in the Christian world is this:  When things in our lives or church go sideways, we fall back on what we know best.  If we abused drugs in our past life, we will often go back to that when things are tough.  If we were sexually permissive in our past life, we will often go there for comfort when we are faced with obstacles we cannot understand.  If we used to over eat when we are feeling insecure, we are prone to go back there for our encouragement, rather then to our Savior.  Before we were born into the Spiritual some of us were angry and mean and when life throws us a curve we are sometimes still angry and mean.  Our point is, we do what we know best to do when we don’t know what to do.

That was true for your church.  When it was revealed that you were a struggler and not always the overcomer they thought you to be, your congregation and much of the evangelical world was devastated.  You can understand why they would be.  The leadership of your church had never faced anything like it before, so because they didn’t know what to do, they fell back on what they did know and functioned, not from a Kingdom perspective (capital K), but from a kingdom one (small k).  In the kingdom of this world the institution must be protected at all costs and so in their confusion and hurt, they circled the wagons around the institution and left you outside.  That way, they believed, you could not do any more damage to the church.  It was Jesus who said, “Father, forgive them because they don’t know what they are doing.”  That is really all we can do.

The Kingdom way would have been to circle the wagons all right, but to circle them around the two of you and your children, and protect you from the world and from your self.  But they didn’t know what to do, so they did what they knew to do, and it was wrong.

But by comparison, what did you do?  When you did not know what to do, you fell back on what you knew as well.  You fell back on what you knew of your Father and what you knew of  His Word.  You let Him circle the wagon of His love around you and inside that circle of love you listened, you cried, you were afraid and you did what anyone would do when kicked to the curb, you made some mistakes and you did a lot more that was right.  The way you have been led to walk it out has not always pleased everyone whose role it is to pass judgement, but it is hard to worry about pleasing people who are inside the wagon circle, when you are outside by yourself. Don’t worry about it.  Keep doing what you are led to do. Those days were as dark as any you have ever faced and you had to face them “alone” but you held on to the Father and you survived.  You did what you have always done, you showed us how to walk it out, for better or worse. 

Ted, Gayle and family.  We know something of what you have endured as do many, many others who have failed and been left out side the circle to survive on their own. We are proud of you

You could always come to Sayre, Oklahoma.  Even after pouring grace and love over us for two years there is still a lot left.

Your friends,

Greg and Linda


January 30, 2009 at 10:17 pm 5 comments

Release for release.

Had a great couple of days in Big D (Dallas, TX) over the weekend.  I attended the PBR event there with bull riding legend and good friend, Cody Custer.  It was great fun meeting many new people and watching the best bull riding in the world.  Cody is one of the PBR founders and heads a ministry to the PBR and other bull riding circles.  Cody’s influence in that world is as significant an influence as anyone in the rodeo world.  He cares about people in a very special way and so has earned the right to speak into many lives there.  The church service and outreach event were well attended.  One highlight was meeting Clyde and Elsie Frost. They lost a son in 1989 in a bull riding accident.  I spent most of Saturday night watching the bull riding with them and getting some of their wisdom into my life. I had such a blessed time. 

I asked the Father to give Linda and me a Word for direction in 2009 and I woke up during that first week with one Word clearly formed in my mind.  The word is RELEASE.  As I listened and allowed the Spirit to teach me I saw that the Word moved in two directions.  It had outward movement and inward movement.

The last decade or two has been prosperous in ways I can’t ever remember.  Stocks went to unprecedented heights, home values, in many cases, tripled in value.  Incomes rose, investments paid off, retirement income allowed many to retire early with resources to do all kinds of things.  Almost everyone benefited in some way from years of amazing growth and accumulation of wealth and all that came with it, both good and bad.

But very few are still riding that wave.  Even here in oil/gas booming Oklahoma the wave is all but smoothed out and while there may be fewer layoffs here than in Seattle or other places in America, they appear to be on the horizon.  The future does not look very bright, at least in the natural.

But in the Spiritual I think things may be brighter than ever if we will embrace what the Father is doing.  I believe He is shaking things up in order to bring in a greater level of Kingdom advancement than we have ever seen in all of history.  But first must come RELEASE.  What do we RELEASE?  Perhaps we all have different things to let go of but I would suggests a few for us all to consider:  Expectations.  When things have been so good, we want them to stay that way and get depressed when they are not.  Change is good, let the past go.  It is a new day and learning to do more with less and to depend on the Father and Family is almost never learned in the good times.  RELEASE the need to continue living at the same level you have the last 10 years. How about letting go of hurt and disappointment.  Let some people off your hook.  Forgiveness is a great RELEASE and brings all kinds of beneficial results.  RELEASE the need to control every aspect of your life.  Allow some mystery into your experience.  You will see much more of the Spirit’s power and direction if you leave some blanks.  RELEASE fear and worry. This is a hard one for me.  I don’t worry about myself as much as I do those closest to me.  In declining economies children and the elderly are the most vulnerable, and there are many in both groups I love.  But my fear and worry doesn’t change anything for them.  Do what you can to help others, in fact this is a good season to make big sacrifices for others rather than to hunker down and just take care of ourselves and RELEASE their care to their Father, He is their Father too and cares about them more than we ever could.  RELEASE the need to spend money just because you can and especially if you don’t have it.  If you have it, help your Family through these days, if you don’t have it, refuse the plastic urge. 

We all have our own list of things to RELEASE in an outward direction.  But here is the exciting part about RELEASE.  While in Washington I visited Rivers of Grace Church, pastored by our friends Dennis and Diane Teague, who by the way, know a lot about RELEASE.  I went to the front after the service for prayer, as I always try to do when invited, and Diane began to pray for RELEASE to come in to my life.  The Word she had for me was RELEASE that moves inward.

When we RELEASE in an outward direction the Father will have room to RELEASE in the other direction and that was just what Diane was speaking into me.  As there is an outflow of things like those mentioned above, the Father will RELEASE into our lives a flow of power, freedom, hope, confidence, courage, boldness, gifts of the Spirit in fresh new ways, love for others, clarity of purpose and direction and so much more. 

I have not got the flow adjusted just right, quite yet.  The outward RELEASE is hard to learn and harder to practice, but I am determined because I desire a greater RELEASE inwardly than ever before.  It is coming and it is there for you as well. 

RELEASE for RELEASE in 2009!

January 27, 2009 at 9:54 pm 3 comments

Monday morning meanderings. Vol.68

Sayre, Oklahoma

The weather has been real nice, a little windy of course but lots of sun and warm temps.  Feels good.  The weather allowed me to get some much needed maintenance done on the truck and trailer, this weekend, so that was productive.

Item one. For some of you, your worst fears will be realized tomorrow, when Barrack Obama is sworn in as the 44th president of the United States.  But not mine.  I am optimistic, as optimistic as I can be when my president does not support some issues that are very important to me.  The weight of the office must be huge and it has a way of changing the way presidents view things, once they get a close up view. Perhaps this will be the case for Mr. Obama.

Even though I will not agree with all his policies, like all patriots I am going to rejoice in the ceremonies of the day. I am going to celebrate the peaceful transition of power, the working Constitution, and the wonderful symbolism of an African-American president. I will not agree with some of the things he says or does, but that will not take away from my happiness as an American. Tomorrow, Mr. Obama will be my president, and as head of the government of the country where I live and am a citizen by birth and choice, I will pray for him and honor him. When he acts as head of his party, I will act as the loyal opposition when given the opportunity.

Did you know there are other verses to our National Anthem?  Here is one I hope they will sing at tomorrows ceremony: Praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!  Then conquer we must, when our cause is just, And this be our motto: “In God is our trust” And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave  O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Item two.  Have you heard of Mark Driscoll?  I have never listened to any of his sermons but I suspect if I did I would like them.  What I find interesting and troubling about him is not his style or the anti-church, church he has built in non-church Seattle, but the theology he is committed to.  He is an unabashed and a full on Calvinist and   Calvinism, in my opinion, is both scary and wrong,  for many of the reasons he embraces it.  I just read a very interesting article from the New York Times on Driscoll and found it a very good read.  You can find it HERE. 

Item three. Interesting changes in higher education that the church could pay attention to.  Read this, right HERE.  Do you think the way we teach in the church is really as productive as it could be?  Are we paying attention?

Item four.  Great website to introduce you to some of the best writing from the world of blogging.  It is like having access to the best writing out there, updated every hour, on almost any topic or interest.  I use it to find all kinds of helpful information especially related to the church and teaching but I just looked at the page on fishing.  It is called Alltop and can be found right HERE.  Check it out.

Item five.  I dvr’d the two championship games yesterday and watched them both in about an hour each.  Best way to watch football if you just want to see the game.  I am not a big professional football guy but I watch it this time of the season.  Pittsburg is stout, no doubt about their ability to punish you, but I like Arizona’s big play potential and I really like Kurt Warner’s willingness to put it all on the line, on and off the field, including his faith.  So, I am going with the Cardinals in the Super Bowl.  How about you?

 Blessings on your week.

January 20, 2009 at 4:34 am 2 comments

Lee Akin update

Nothing I have ever posted, or will ever post for that matter, has gotten more hits than what I have posted about professional bull rider Lee and his wife Mary Akin.  There is such concern and desire for information on Lee that when people search for info on Lee they often hit this site.  So here is a link to the latest article about him.  Right HERE.

Here are links to the other articles and links on this blog.

Because we attend the same church, I see Lee and Mary regularly and I think it is safe to say that the road to recovery is ongoing and that they are doing as well as can be expected.  Recovery slows down after the initial phase but it is steady.  From my limited perspective, these kinds of rehabilitation are hardest on the spouse and it appears to me that Mary carries a huge burden with great grace and love but she does get tired and needs our prayers as much as Lee does.  Thank you for praying.  If you want to support the Akins financially you can access information about that HERE.

All in all, from where they were to where they are, they are doing really well.  Glory to God!

January 15, 2009 at 9:38 pm Leave a comment

Monday morning (Tuesday) meanderings. Vol.67

Sayre, Oklahoma

Since yesterday was a travel day, getting the meanderings out on its usual day was not possible so here is a belated collection of details from my life and times and some other sort of fun stuff.

Item one.  4816.7.  That is the number of miles driven from Elk City, OK to Shelton, WA and back again.  There were a few side trips which produced the 800+ miles over the 4K.  Sayre (Elk City) is right at 2000 miles from Shelton.  The weather was what you would expect in the winter, with snow, rain, blowing snow, blowing dust, blowing wind and some clear blue sky.  All in all it wasn’t bad.  We stopped in Colorado Springs and Twin Falls, Idaho on the way out and Idaho Falls, Fruita, CO (Linda flew to Salt Lake City), and Colorado Springs, on the way back.  We travelled an average of 650 miles each travel day.  Diesel average about $2.20 a gallon, about half what it was on a previous trip. Don’t want to leave right now to do it again, but I would and we probably will drive  it again in the days ahead.

Item two.  While in the Springs we attended the birthday party of our niece Andrea’s 11 year old son, Jalen.  As you might know Andrea’s mother is Chinese American and Andrea is Korean by birth and Jalen’s father is African American.  Of course Andrea’s father, my brother is the same ethnicity as me.  What a wonderful collection of Americans attended this party.  Add to the ethnic variations already mentioned, Samoan and maybe one other and you have all in one little house what America is all about.  I live, work and worship mostly with people like me (well sort of-not sure what ethnicity Cowboy is) so being in that home with all these people of color and colorful culture was fun.  At one point I counted 20 children, 11 and under and then discovered there were some teenagers in the basement.  Add another 20 adults to the mix, including my 84 year old father and it was a full on inter-generational, inter-cultural party.  Good times, as Brad would say.

Item three. 285 years ago the great American preacher and pastor, Jonathan Edwards dedicated himself to the following: I made a solemn dedication of myself to God, and wrote it down; giving up myself, and all that I had to God; to be for the future, in no respect, my own; to act as one that had no right to himself, in any respect. And solemnly vowed, to take God for my whole portion and felicity; looking on nothing else, as any part of my happiness, nor acting as if it were; and his law for the constant rule of my obedience. I am clearly no Jonathan Edwards but I am trying my best to dedicate myself to this pledge.  I even wrote it down.  I added this one line; it is not about me but all about Him therefore I make this solemn dedication… (felicity means the source of happiness or the place we get ourjoyful)

Item four. What’s next?  Good question.  There is a lot for us to do here but living in a trailer is not conducive to cold weather.  We are planning to be in Arizona for a few weeks, just don’t know which few weeks.  Don’t want to miss what the Father has for us here or there.  The days are quite nice here but it gets very cold at night.  Doesn’t seem like much we try to do to stay warm and keep the water from freezing, has worked.  Probably some tricks yet to try but Arizona feels like the best trick.

Item five. Being with and around our children and grandchildren is the best blessing we as parents can receive for our efforts to raise quality children who love the Father and live to please Him as well as raising their own children to do the same.  I am not sure I could tell you what we did to raise such great kids and encourage them to marry such great mates, but whatever it was and to whatever degree we had a part, it is such a blessing to see. 

Item six. There are so many things to write about and not enough time.  A few examples:  For years, Dallas Seminary’s students came to the school because they were encouraged to go there by a pastor.  The last group surveyed said they came because of the school’s website.  Some people are still wondering if the internet is here to stay.  Seth Godin in his book All marketers are liars says all kinds of things that are cool and more than that, right for today’s culture.  Take this… It is hard to be remarkable when you and your organization insist on not changing the status quo. Or this“If you want to grow, make something worth talking about. Not the hype, not the ads, but the thing. If your idea is good, it’ll spread.” [If it requires an announcement from the platform and a bulletin insert to succeed, then it’s probably not “worth talking about” and it probably won’t grow. I hated to, and mostly refused to do platform announcements because they don’t work, they just waste time. I could write a lot about that one.]  One more...”If a consumer figures something out or discovers it on her own, she’s a thousand times more likely to believe it than if it’s just something you claim.” [This is counter to the discipleship strategy of almost every church in the country.]  My comments are in the brackets and are all I have time to write about.

Hopefully I will get back to the Summit Recap this week.  Have a happy day and thanks for reading.

January 14, 2009 at 3:48 am 2 comments


Idaho Falls, Idaho

I am in Idaho, at the home of Todd and Leslie Pierce, spending some quality time discussing Todd’s ministry to the riders of the PBR.  Cody Custer, a former world champion bull rider is here as well.  Cody’s ministry PBRO is the covering for Todd and Leslie’s ministry.  Doug Wright, my friend from Washington rode out with me to be part of this discussion, because Doug is a board member of Riding High Ministry.  Linda remained in Mason County with the kids and will fly to Salt Lake City, where I will pick her up tomorrow afternoon.

As strange it may seem, I have found myself in relationship, both as friends and colleagues, with men and women who are ministering within the cowboy and western culture.  Linda and I have some skills they need and our vision and mission to give away what we have been given in training, experience, spiritual maturity, administrative and teaching ability etc, to young men and women who will take it to the next level, seems to be a good fit with these ministries.   Along with the PBRO and Riding High we have a working relationship with Forever Cowboys, founded by world champion team roper, Alan Bach.  I certainly would not have expected this vision to be played out within the cowboy culture but that is where we have been placed.  It is going to be interesting to see how all of this unfolds, but for now it is fun to watch the Father lead us.

After our church leadership season was over we knew we wanted to stay in some kind of ministry, but we didn’t know where we would fit, or who would want us.  The amazing circumstances which brought us to Western Oklahoma and Trinity Fellowship have placed us in the center of the cowboy and western culture and the diverse people who are seeking to change the world through it.  That we would be able to join with these ministries and share with them what the Father has given us is such a huge blessing. 

No one ever confuses me with a genuine cowboy but I do have a hat!

January 10, 2009 at 4:10 am 1 comment

Just for fun.

A friend and fellow blogger Krisy at the HouseofHenry posted these creative word flips, for lack of a better description, that caught my attention.  They are published yearly in the Washington Post after a contest for readers invited them to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition.

Here are the winners.  Read carefully as flipping one letter changes the real word into an artificial one.  Enjoy!  (Thanks Krisy!)

1. Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.

2. Reintarnation : Coming back to life as a hillbilly.

3. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stop bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future..

4. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period.

5. Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.

6. Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn’t get it.

7. Inoculatte : To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.

8. Hipatitis: Terminal coolness.

9. Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)

10. Karmageddon: It’s like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibe s, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it’s, like, a serious bummer.

11. Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.

12. Glibido: All talk and no action.

13. Dopeler effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.

14. Arachnoleptic fit(n.): The frantic dance performed just after you’ve accidentally walked through a spider web.

15. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.

16. Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after finding half a worm in the fruit you’re eating.

January 7, 2009 at 3:47 am 1 comment

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