Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Put Up or Shut Up

I've heard many Christians say something like this: I have always told others to trust the Lord and have faith in him during times of trouble; then when the storms hit my life I was faced with a crisis of belief - do I really believe what I've always told others?

Today, I understand the feeling. The doctor said there were many reasons why the lymph nodes in my chest would be swollen that are not malignant.

Driving away I prayed. First, I prayed these words: Lord, I trust your healing power. Then I thought about how selfish that was. I was presuming upon God that he wanted to heal me. My understanding of God is that his ways are not my ways, his thoughts not my thoughts. In this circumstance that means that while I may desire healing, he may not. And I am not to question his will.

Often a person's life has more impact in dying than in living. God's will for me is still unknown to me in full. But I do know that he desires that I trust him for salvation from my sins and that I live all my days (few or many) to bring glory to him. These things I know for sure. The details are sketchy, at best.

So I then prayed, "Lord, I trust your will." Then I cried. Because the hardest thing in the world is to trust his will over yours.

My Savior did that. "Father, let this cup pass from me. However, not my will but yours be done."

Someone told me today that everything would be OK because our God is the healer. Yes, he is. But he may not heal this body. The difference in our beliefs are that she believes God does what I want and I believe God does what he wants. Have you ever wanted something so badly only to later find out what a mistake it was? But have you ever known God to do something that later turned out to be a mistake? His ways are not my ways.

I trust his will to be perfect. Perfect for me. Perfect for my wife. Perfect for my kids. Perfect for the rest of my family. Perfect for my church. Perfect for my job. Perfect.

I still have lapses of weak faith. I guess I always will until God takes me home. Sooner or later.

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perserverance. And perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:2-4


It's an awkward situation. One of my heroes of the calling just completed preaching three stirring sermons to my congregation. He's always so gracious to offer his assistance with anything I need. "Just let me know how I can help you, Bob." "Let me know if there is anything I can do for you." And he has so much to offer and he means it.

How do I let him know that I would do anything for him without it sounding like I'm asking to do something for him? I do not presume repayment in kind and struggle painfully trying not to sound that way. So I said, "If I can help you in any way, I would love to." Thud. Hopefully, he took it in the right way because what I heard sounded awful!

Please don't think I'm thinking poorly of myself or my abilities or elevating him to highly. It's just awkward when the mentoree offers assistance to the mentor. But I would like to be on his list of people to call on when he needs something. I'll work toward that.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Burger and Fries

The Trio's first album had a bit in it where the three were discussing naming the group. Kirk Talley suggested a name with Talley listed first. Ivan Park wanted his name listed first. Anthony Burger suggested "Burger and Fries." The crowd roared.

The posthumous tributes to Anthony mention that he has played with the Gaither Vocal Band for many years. Truth is, he learned to play the crowd (and the southern gospel piano) while on stage with Jim Hamill and the Kingsmen. His hands were severely burned as a toddler when his walker tipped over on a floor heater grate. Nobody thought he would be able to use his hands normally, much less become the man for whom the Singing News Magazine's favorite instrumentalist award is named. He won it ten years in a row so they named it after him and made him ineligible to win it again so others would have a chance. Had the Singing News not done that he would have won it again last year keeping the streak alive.

What the Cadek Conservatory of Music in Chatanooga, TN, taught Anthony Burger about playing the piano, Jim Hamill matched in his educating Anthony about playing the crowd. Bill Gaither just put it on a bigger stage.

And who would've thought that there could be a bigger stage than playing piano for the Kingsmen or being a member of any number of top Southern Gospel groups in the 70's and 80's and 90's? Then Gaither called a few friends into the studio to sing with his Vocal Band on an old standard called, "Where Could I Go?" It came to the me as a single release and I played it over and over on my radio program. Everyone else did the same. There was a short video with just the one song. While none of Gaither's productions are shot from the hip, this one was very orchestrated. Gaither says his intention was to get these heroes of the genre recorded one more time.

And then again, and again... Does anyone really know how many videos he's produced over the last 15 years? Homecoming has created a great following. Most arenas in the country won't contain the crowd so you may have to drive a ways to see them. My wife and I have driven across half of Arkansas and all of Tennessee more than once. And many more have driven much farther.

Some even went on a cruise with Gaither and company this week. And Tuesday night Anthony Burger died. On stage. Playing the piano. Pleasing the crowd. Pleasing his Lord.

Danny Jones of the Singing News Magazine brings up a great thought. I wonder if the Lord let Anthony finish the tune he was playing when he got to Heaven?

Thursday, February 23, 2006

About to Bust

I don't know how much longer I can take it. It's like Christmas when I was a kid. You know how you would have so much anticipation built up? Sometimes the anticipated event was anticlimactic due to the build-up. But not this time.

I'm a novice photographer. I am also interested in mission work. I was browsing the International Mission Board's website just to see what type of work was available on a short-term volunteer basis. I think every Christian who is physically able should go on at least one international mission trip in their lifetime. Money shouldn't be an issue because their local church should sponsor them if they can't pay for it themselves. God has a wonderful plan for financing his work. It's called tithing. We bring our tithes to the storehouse (the local church) to be used for kingdom work. So your church should be willing to finance your mission trip if you cannot.

So I'm looking for opportunities. I've only been on one mission trip of any kind. That's sad. I'm 41, have been a Christian for 33 years, and have served on local church staffs (staves?) for 23 years. And all I've ever done is canvas a rural community to see if there was interest for a Baptist church. That's very selfish and I'm trying to correct that.

I found opportunities to preach revivals. That's glamorous. Imagine thousands of Nigerians coming to Christ after I preached! We're not all "Billy Graham," though. And that is a little intimidating for a never-been-on-a-mission-trip guy who speaks only English.

I found opportunities for prayer walking. This is neat. You walk through neighborhoods and cities praying for the people you see, schools you pass, businesses in operation, government offices, etc. You would probably have the chance to have conversations with people along the way about what you are doing and why. I like that as a entry point into missions. Some of the areas were described as "rugged terrain" or "hot and humid." I need to do some physical training beofre attempting some of those areas.

There are opportunties for medical missions for those qualified. I've been to a medical clinic but not to med school. And I don't think they want me on a construction crew except for fetching and toting.

What I'm most excited about is a request from missionaries in Turkey to come and spend a week or two taking pictures of the people and places. The missionaries want to create a database of images to use in promoting their work. How cool is that. I'm so excited that I'm about to bust. I've requested information about the few opportunities listed; I can't wait to hear back from them!

Remember, I'm a novice photographer but I really hope and pray that my skills and equipment are sufficient. And that my church will cover the $2000 to send me.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


I learned this in seminary: revival is an act of the Holy Spirit to stir in believers' hearts the desire to know God better and serve him more. That's good. A bit clinical, but good.

Revival is God showing me how I fall short of his glory and then challenging me to step up my walk with him so that I grow with him. The ultimate result is that I become a tool God can use in his hands to accomplish his kingdom work in the world.

I want my life to glorify God. Not because I want to repay him for what he's done for me because I could never do that, but because he is soveriegn and majestic and omnipotent and more. He's my Savior and Lord. There is no other.

Did you know that if your motivation for serving him is to repay him you have missed what salvation is? If I can repay Christ for my salvation that means that eventually I could have gained my salvation without him. Not gonna happen. Foolish to try. I'm not sure that a person can be saved if they believe they have to repay Christ for salvation.

Really, salvation is my understanding that I cannot gain it myself and must rely on the free grace-gift provided by God through the death of his son Jesus on the cross where his precious blood waits to wash away my sin. All I have to do is accept the gift and come under his lordship.

Salvation is costly to God but free to me. Salvation is hard for God but easy for me. All I have to do is accept the gift. God had to give his son to die for me...and you.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Something New

In the mid-80's a Southern Gospel group called The Singing Americans were on top of the charts. Every singer in the group were or would be greats in their field. They recorded a live album on which they revived the old gospel standard "I Bowed On My Knees And Cried Holy." It was number one for several months and Song of the Year.

Another song on the album was called "Something New." It talked about how walking down the streets of gold and all that Heaven has to offer will be something new. It was a pretty good song.

I have something new. I've had the flu, tonsilitis, a tibial plateau fracture, general aches and pains. But never have I had pneumonia until now. Last week the doctor said I had "mini flu." He was careful to say there was nothing "mini" about it except the name. I believe him. That was tough. But I didn't get better...worse, in fact. It's not that the doctor misdiagnosed me; I just got worse.

I went back today. Bloodwork, XRays, vital stats. Oh, by the way, my weight was down from last Monday and my blood pressure was 120/80!

I get to stay home a few more days while the new high-powered medicines do their thing.

If I had to have something new I would have preferred a Chevy Extended Cab pickup.