Monday, September 24, 2012


Leonard Sweet's book Viral was a real help to me. I am a middle-aged pastor and much of communicating the gospel to this generation who sees Church as either unimportant or evil is quite mind-boggling to me. Sweet's breakdown between Gutenbergers (me) and Googlers (everyone younger than me) helped illuminate some of the fundamental differences in how differently the generations receive and process information and truth. I think this book would be equally helpful to a young person who is mystified by the older generation's attachment to things such as organizations and committee meetings.
"I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review."

Tuesday, July 31, 2012


I just finished reading a book by John Bevere called "Relentless". It had been a while since I read a book by Bevere. I was given a copy of "Under Cover" a few years ago and it led me to read "Bait of Satan" some time later. Relentless has a good message for anyone who has experienced or is experiencing adversity in their life, ministry, or relationship with God. It is a strong encouraging word that promises, through the Word, that if we will not give up, God will never fail us. Some of what he said reminded me of what I already knew, some exhorted me to step further in my walk with God, and some stretched me beyond my existing point of view. In other words, it was a good book to read.

For more information about "Relentless" and John Bevere, go to

"I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review."

Friday, February 17, 2012

Jesus of the Scars

“Jesus of the Scars”
by Edward Shillito
If we have never sought you, we seek you now; 
Your eyes burn through the dark, our only stars; 
We must have sight of thorn-marks on your brow, 
We must have you, O Jesus of the scars.
The heavens frighten us; they are too calm; 
In all the universe we have no place.
Our wounds are hurting us; where is the balm? 

Lord Jesus, by your scars we know your grace.
If, when the doors are shut, you then draw near, 
Only reveal those bloodied feet and hands 
We know today what wounds are, have no fear; 
Show us your scars, we know you understand
The other gods were strong; but you were weak; 
They rode, but Jesus stumbled to a throne; 
But to our wounds only God’s wounds can speak, 
And not a god has wounds, but You alone.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Scammers and benevolence

I just had a talk with a guy who came by the church. I knew before the end of the greeting that this was a guy who wanted some "help", meaning cash. As be began his story I was tempted to finish it for him because it is one I have heard several times over the past 5 years. Traveling from (fill in the blank any city at least 200 miles away) to (name another town at least 100 miles away), he encountered car trouble. He had the money to buy the part but it took all his cash and maxed out his credit card. In his hand he had a receipt from AutoZone for the part and the maxed out credit card for proof. His "half sister" was in the car and they had to make tracks because their dad was in bad shape. I have heard this story many times. I have seen the receipt. The trouble is, the receipt isn't a receipt at all. It is a quotation for the price of a part. Some of the guys will ask for you to pay for the part. The part is never located in the parts store close by, so just give him some cash and he'll get out of your way. There is no way to verify any of the story. I did what I usually do. I offered to follow him to the gas station across the street and buy some gas. If he'd said he needed money for food I'd offer to follow him to Homeland and buy some food. I seldom get taken up on those offers. He said he had enough gas to get where he was going but was worried about the trip back. I told him I could put some gas in his car but nothing else. He left.

The thing that aggravates me about this kind of scam is that it causes people to think that everything is a scam and validates their decision not to help anyone that they don't know personally. I have fallen for several of these over the years; at rest stops on the highway, in department store parking lots, and at church. I don't like being someone who mistrusts others. I don't like to dehumanize someone by refusing to make eye contact with them. I don't like having to make snap judgments about someone's character. Today was easy. I knew the scam and didn't participate. But so many times I really don't know how to respond. I don't want to miss an opportunity to help because I have allowed scammers make me hard and untrusting. I always think of the scripture in Hebrews 13:2 that says, "Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have entertained angels without knowing it." I would rather be too trusting and get taken than to get calloused and miss the chance to entertain someone Christ put in my path.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Turning Darkness into Light

While in Ireland, Carole and I went to see the Book of Kells. This is an ancient book, containing incredibly beautiful versions of the four Gospels, and it has survived since the 9th century. The theme of the display is entitled, "Turning Darkness into Light".  The brochure we were given contains a poem, written by a 9th century monk that was the inspiration for the naming of the display.

Pangur Ban

I and Pangur Ban my cat
"Tis a like task we are at;
Hunting mice is his delight,
Hunting words I sit all night.

Better far than praise of men
'Tis to sit with book and pen;
Pangur bears me no ill will,
He too plies his simple skill.

Oftentimes a mouse will stray
In the hero Pangur's way;
Oftentimes my keen thought set
Takes a meaning in my net.

'Gainst the wall he sets his eye
Full and fierce and sharp and sly;
'Gainst the wall of knowledge I
All my little wisdom try.

Practice every day has made
Pangur perfect in his trade;
I get wisdom day and night
Turning darkness into light.

Monday, January 23, 2012

How to be thankful

This morning Carole needed to take her car in for service. Nothing unusual there. A couple of hours later they called and said that it was ready. The problem was that she was now watching our grandsons and the car seats are in her car. We couldn't all load up in my pickup legally, and we couldn't leave the boys alone for the short time it would take to pick up her car. We had to get it done, because I needed to get to Guthrie and Carole would be coming up later to help with the stowing of Christmas decorations at church. No one in the neighborhood was available and our kids were at work.
I came up with a plan. The service place is only a couple of miles from the house. I would go in my truck, pick up Carole's car and bring it home, leaving my truck at the shop. Then I would hop on my bike and ride back to the shop, put the bike in the back of the truck and come back home. Mission accomplished and I got in a nice bike ride on a pleasant winter day.
While on the ride I began to thank God for the nice day to ride my bike. Then I thanked him for the guy who gave me the bike last year. Then I thanked him for the health that made it possible to ride the bike. Then I thanked him that we had two cars and the means to keep them serviced. And I thanked him that I had so many options at my disposal to get things done. I thanked him that I had a wife and grandsons that needed my help from time to time. By the time I got to the shop, I was truly thankful for all of the blessings that I have in my life. Being thankful isn't so hard.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Good Food is Good

I like unexpectedly good meals. Most of the time when I’m surprised, I’m expecting something good and what I get disappoints. Carole and I had just finished visiting Christchurch Cathedral, a 1000+ year old Anglican church in Dublin. We were in a part of town we hadn’t visited yet, so we thought “Why not get something to eat while we’re here in a place we probably won’t see again?” About two blocks away from the church we saw a place. I don’t even remember what the name was, but we looked at the menu taped on the front window and saw things we thought looked good and the price seemed fair. (Dublin fair; not Oklahoma fair. Everything is outrageously expensive in Dublin.) The place was very plain. Clean looking, but plain. They obviously don’t spend a lot of time creating ambience. This is low tourist season, so there is never a crowd in any place, so the fact that there was only one occupied table didn’t really bother us. We ordered. Carole got roasted turkey with mashed potatoes and mixed vegetables. I got the chicken curry. When it came out it looked good, and when we tasted it, it was delicious! We both ate every bite. Of course, we have been eating out every meal and after a few days each meal kind of runs into another, so for this one to stick out means that we really enjoyed it. OK, Dublin reasonable for a nice lunch was 16 euros, which equates to about 21 US dollars. I told you that everything is really expensive here.

 I am getting close to being ready to make and eat a peanut butter & honey sandwich in my own kitchen.

I got to see the book of Kells this morning, as well. This ancient book has survived a tumultuous millennium and still inspires. If you don’t know what the book of Kells is, google it.

Tomorrow we plan to go to the town of Howth and get a look at the Irish Sea. They are also supposed to have good fish and chips. I’ll find out.

Monday, January 16, 2012

About the Town

Today Carole and I spent the day exploring Dublin. The City Tour bus took us from place to place. We could hop off at any stop and hop on another when we had seen what we wanted. I love walking the sidewalks of busy cities because you can see all kinds of people. I saw young girls traveling in 2s and 3s who were laughing and conversing while they strolled along. Young men with their earphones and coffee strode purposefully with their shoulder bags traveling alongside. Middle aged couples such as Carole and I looked very responsible.  We all had our coats on and our shoes reflected an age where comfort and support overrode style for a day of walking. Young families pushed baby carriages boldly through the crowd; saying "Excuse me" at times and at other times, using the carriage to "accidentally" bump the ankle of the person blocking their way. I say old people. It looked as though they were there for a specific purpose and then they would be going home. Their days of nonchalantly looking in store windows were over some time ago.

My favorite thing to do is to sit in a coffee shop, get a seat by the window when possible and watch the people go by. I try to imagine their story. Are they happy or sad? Are they making a life, or has a life been forced upon them? Most importantly, do they know Christ? Is their salvation secure?

At the end of the day we visited Kilmainham Prison. Although the prison has been closed since the 1920's it stands as a testament to how cruelly we can treat one another when our desire to have our way or to show power over someone else overrides our call to love one another. The stories the docent told were sad. And it broke my heart to think that supposedly civilized people can subject other people to such cruelty just because of a difference of political affiliation or religious belief. Yet this cruelty exists in the full gamut of forms even today. We as Christians have to do what we can every time to prevent such cruelty. Jesus told us that the most important commandment is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Then he added something he said was just as important. He said for us to love our neighbor as ourself. If we could follow that one rule, No other laws would be necessary.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Church at St. Marks

This morning we went to St. Marks Church for services. The place was packed. They do two services; one at 10 and one at 12. I am told that both are filled. The music was rocking. The service kept moving with no down time. The word given by Pastor Sean Mullarkey was interesting and applicable. There was no shortage of hands to shake. Folks who saw "first timer" on our expression made a bee-line to us to greet us and offer assistance. A nice lady led us to two open seats near the front even though we said we were okay. That was pretty cool. After the service, several asked if we had been to the hospitality room and finally after some friendly but persistent persuasion we consented to go. There we were served some tea and biscuits (cookies to us in Oklahoma). Several people introduced themselves and in a friendly non-nosy way found that we came from Oklahoma to attend the passing of the torch festivities, and that we had a few days to explore Dublin. We were given some good tips concerning the public transportation, places we shouldn't miss, and the names of good places to eat or get coffee nearby. Never did it seem intrusive or none-of -their-business. They just seemed genuinely interested in us having a quality time during our visit to a church they loved nestled in a city they loved. They informed us of services and prayer meetings held mid-week and made sure that we knew that we were welcome to attend them as well. All in all it was a very good visitor experience and I shall take some of the ideas collected here to my home church. What they did during the service they did well, but it wasn't anything that would cause 5-600 people to come every week. What fills the place is the combination of the excellence of the planning and execution combined with the genuine love and acceptance of everyone in the place through the love and saving grace of Jesus. A combination like that will not fail to grow.

After service Carole & I walked for several hours around Dublin. Most places are closed on Sunday so we mostly scouted around to get ready for tomorrow. We did, however, find a great Chinese buffet and we learned that at Starbucks in Ireland you get your coffee in a real cup if you plan to drink it there. A few extra centuries of civilization makes a lot of difference.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Passing the Torch

Today was the Passing the Torch service here in Ireland. It was wonderful, emotional, and well executed. The ceremony, which took three hours was held in a packed church and person after person spoke of the impact that Christ had made on them through the ministry of Gary & Wilma Davidson. I looked around and I realized that everyone there was in Christ or in fellowship with one another because of them.

What happened today was huge on two fronts. One, the Assembly of God of Ireland is now completely organized and run by Irish leaders. Second, Gary set a pattern that we can all benefit from with his involvement in planned succession. This event happened today, but it has been years in coming. Too often our leaders lead effectively for years and then announce their leaving without warning. The organization then forms a selection committee and goes to work, but the progress stalls. Many times division hinders what had been moving forward. At one time it seemed fashionable or even "spiritual" to leave this way. It seemed that the leader then prided himself on how much the organization suffered after his leaving. But what happened today is true Kingdom building philosophy. Gary's legacy will only be enhanced by the upward climb of the AGI since he has invested all these years in the lives of the leaders, pouring into them and raising them up for such a time as this. If the AGI grows at a greater rate now than it did while he held the reins, it speaks positively to the quality of leadership that Gary developed during his time at the helm. I know that his greatest joy would be to see the AGI become a force for the work of God at higher levels and doing things for God he never dreamed of.

That's the way to leave. Would that we could all have this mindset in leadership. Congratulations, and God bless you, Gary & Wilma!

Friday, January 13, 2012

We Made It!

Well we made it to Ireland! (The photo is of the Irish Sea. But I took it on my previous visit to Ireland.) We left Oklahoma City on Thursday afternoon and flew to Memphis. From there we flew overnight to Amsterdam. After a couple of hour layover we flew into Dublin. Gary Davidson was there to meet us and took us to our hotel. There is a 6 hour time difference from Oklahoma. (It's 6 hours later here in Ireland) So after not sleeping much last night, we decided to try to stay up until at least 10pm so we can acclimate to the jet lag quicker. We went out and walked to a cafe about a half mile from the hotel and enjoyed a simple meal. It's clear and chilly here tonight. (It's rare for the skies to be clear here. It's usually cloudy.) Back to the room, check facebook and e-mails and at 8:30 it seems unlikely that either of us will be awake at 10.

Tomorrow is the big "Passing of the Torch" ceremony. I'll talk more about that tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Bible Reading Plan

Beginning February 1 we will begin a churchwide Bible reading plan. We will read the entire New Testament by reading two chapters a day. Typically the reading selection can be read in 5 minutes or less. We will start in Matthew and on June 8th we will finish Revelation. I will be blogging daily about the selection for that day. I will put the schedule on the church website, , will put the weekly schedule in the bulletin, and we will be talking about the group reading a lot to encourage those who participate. I believe that we will all benefit by reading together. Get your Bible dusted off and get ready!