Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
On this Christmas Eve day the contest ends. I will go to the barber shop and weigh in for the final time. The funny thing is, even though I have shed 45 lbs. or so, I will win as a result of attrition. None of the other participants bothered to stick with it and did not maintain the once-a-month weigh in requirement. In the broad scheme of things, this is a very minor victory in my life-- the free haircuts that is. The weight loss, however, has been a pretty big deal for me. I still have a long way to go, but compared to the many times before, I have really enjoyed the accountability I have shared with Paige as we have been doing this. She looks fabulous and we both feel a LOT better. Oh-- and in case you were wondering, Jeff and Bobby combined to lose an amount of weight equivalent to roughly one Radio City Rockette. They have done really well.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Batterson and his publisher, Random House, were kind enough to send me an advance copy of the book to review. At first blush, there may be two reasons why a simple, cursory examination of the book may lead one to think, "Not another one!" First, the premise of the book revolves around the Great Commandment- "Love the Lord your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength" (Mark 12:30). Reading this on the jacket cover may give one the impression that this is another "formula book" in the vein of The Prayer of Jabez. No offense to Bruce Wilkinson, I liked Jabez, but this is NOT one of those.
Secondly, a quick glance may lead one to think that its another "church bashing book." While Batterson offers plenty of insight and criticism of certain tendencies within the body, this book seeks to encourage and edify the body by building-up the individual believer. We must be willing to admit that we are NOT living up to our full potential and that is something that can be universally agreed upon, I hope.
Enough with what the book isn't. Here is what it is: A FANTASTIC READ! Batterson's contention is that the Great Commandment is "Christianity in its most primal form" and he masterfully leads the reader on a tour that it seems he just finished. It felt like I was chatting with a friend over coffee and agreeing with everything that he was saying. After an intriguing prologue which sets the reader up for the journey that is about to commence, the remaining chapters look at The Heart of Christianity, The Soul of Christianity, The Mind of Christianity and The Strength of Christianity. While each aspect deals with very familiar subject matter, there is a perspective and context that is extremely fresh. It is not very often that I find myself fascinated by a different take on the biblical text that I had NEVER considered, but that happened more than once.
Fans of Batterson know the combination of wit and wisdom that comes into play with his books and this one is no different. He clearly has a lifelong appreciation of learning and I am fascinated by the breadth of knowledge that he has on a wide variety of subjects. He is at ease talking about and interweaving diverse personalities like Senator Bill First and C. S. Lewis or diverse disciplines like particle physics and theology. Through it all, I felt challenged, both as a vocational minister in the church AND as a Christ-follower like anyone else. "There is gold in that thar book" for everyone. I have had numerous conversations with folks about some of the ills we battle as a church. But I have never heard it as eloquently and convincingly stated as it is in Primal.
My friends know that I recommend everything from great ice creams and restaurants to great movies and songs. Hear my heart when I say- For the sake of the call God has placed on all our lives, pick up a copy of Primal today! You will be glad you did.
Friday, December 18, 2009
The conviction process began as I was listening to a very popular, national sports talk program on the radio. I listen to this show from time to time because I like smart humor. I am a sucker for witty repartee. Many times, however, the host takes it way too far and his moral compass (or lack thereof) gets stuck. This was one of those days. He was advocating that Tiger and wife Elin get divorced. He reasoned that the marriage was beyond fixing and was able to lend some experience to the conversation because he, the host, had also been in a marriage that was "beyond fixing." The thought hit me so hard as I was driving down the road that I almost lost control-- "No one or no thing is beyond the redemption found in Jesus Christ!" I audibly said this to myself and my truck.
I certainly did not expect to hear that particular host on that particular program espouse anything other than exactly what I heard, but it saddens me to think about the millions of people around this country and around the world who think the very same thing. I do not know anything about Tiger's faith background. It would shock me to find out he was a Christ-follower given what I do know about him, but I am not his judge. However, I do know that if Tiger would allow Christ to come into his heart and life, the Holy Spirit could, indeed, begin the redeeming process. I am convinced with regard to matters of sin that no amount of therapy or counseling can change a heart that is not first given to Jesus Christ.
As I was pondering these things while doing my daily perusing of various and sundry blogs, I ran across a blog called People of the Second Chance (great and ironic name don't you think?). You can click on the link and see the blog in its entirety, but below I posted some suggestions they had for folks who don't want to contribute to the beat down, but rather commit to the build up:
As People of the Second Chance, here are a few of my suggestions:
1. You have so many words that you can share in a day. Decide whether they will be about blessing or cursing someone.
2. When someone is caught in a scandal, I visualize two buckets that I can fill. I can add to the “Shame Bucket” or the “Second Chance Bucket.” Sometimes my first/easy/fun/human nature response is to fill the “Shame Bucket” so I have to work harder not to do that.
3. For all you online peeps…write your articles, blogs, tweets, and comments as if the person in crisis (and their family) were reading it. Why? Because they do! And the jokes, snarky comments, sloppy facts and flippant remarks hurt people. Instead, devote your computer keyboard to the restoration of people.
4. Refuse to participate in the gossip session around the water cooler. Or better yet, jump in and turn the conversation towards grace and second chances. Btw, just plan on being called a “buzz kill” and not invited back to any more social functions.
5. Realize we are either part of the judgment problem or the grace solution. But we can’t be both. So choose wisely.
As a Christ-follower, I too often get caught up in the whole "group think" stuff. I am just mean enough and want to make people laugh enough to dive in with all the jokes and comments. Because of our own sinfulness it makes us feel better to tear someone else down further so we can look in the mirror and tell ourselves we are not that bad. The Bible reminds that, yes, we are that bad! Though our sins may not be as public as Tiger's, none of us are righteous outside of the atoning sacrifice that Jesus Christ made for us. I mean-- who am I to think that Tiger Woods, alone, has besmirched the good "Tiger" name? In the eyes of the only One that matters, I have done plenty to sully my name. If we all made a determined effort to be the change we would like to see in others, then maybe the world would be a different place.
I want to put as much effort into praying for Tiger and all who trod a similar path, as I have put into preying upon them.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Since I was a little boy, mom has made a variety of candy for Christmas. She has always saved me the leftovers- what didn't fit in the pan. I am 39 and, praise the Lord, she still does it.What you see is the best peanut butter fudge you will ever hope to eat. Merry Christmas! -Tiger Brooks
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Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Monday, December 7, 2009
The first group to perform was the sixth grade orchestra. They began with a few familiar pieces that you would most likely recognize. If you have never been to a beginner's concert, understand that the kids are differently-abled. Some pick it up quickly while others struggle. I remember playing double-bass in the sixth grade orchestra in the very same auditorium I was standing in. It can be a terrifying thing. There are always missed notes as little fingers struggle to find their places on the fingerboard. The bow being scraped across the strings can sometimes be as unnerving as nails on a chalkboard. As the great Charlie Daniels once said, it can make an evil hiss. These kinds of beginner's mistakes are always expected at these types of performances. However, as I watched and listened, I picked up on a curious thing.
While I play a few instruments and sing a little, I am not a classically-trained musician nor have I the education in music that my lovely and talented wife has. So in an effort to affirm my suspicions, I did what any good husband does in that situation--- I elbowed her in the ribs. Like a good wife, she nodded her head without even needing my verbal explanation. I was right. The conductor was slowing her tempo. The natural tendency for the young musician is to play slowly, especially when mistakes are being made or are likely to be made. The conductor, however, slowed her tempo in an effort to match the kids. The results were not pretty. The piece started much more slowly than the piece would normally be played and that is to be expected. But what started slowly became p a i n f u l l y s l o w. If we had had a metronome keeping the beat, what started at about 60 beats per minute (bpm) was now somewhere around 40 bpm. Naturally, the sound produced by the orchestra became increasingly muddled as the kids lost the beat. While I am not the foremost authority on instrumental music pedagogy, I know enough to know the importance of staying on the beat.
In any kind of musical performance, the beat is paramount. It keeps everyone together. If you have a weak drummer in a rock band, you will have a weak, hamstrung band. Even the best musicians can't compensate for the loss of the beat. The beat or tempo is the standard that MUST be maintained so that the musicians can stay together and make beautiful music. Musically speaking, if you lower the standard and change the tempo, the quality of music will suffer. As you can well-imagine, the ramifications of loose or ever-changing standards in any and all walks of life will have a detrimental effect on the end product.
I have observed this in many situations. In my humble opinion, some of the things I am seeing in our schools reflect a desire to allow the kids who are "playing more slowly than others" to catch up by lowering some standards and adjusting some methods. In microcosm, some of these things seem like good ideas. But in the macrocosm, when these kids get out into the real world where 2+2=4, 2+2= 5 or 6 or something kind of 4ish will not cut it. In most venues of life, close does not count.
It's Christmas. Despite all the efforts to the contrary, Christmas is celebrated for one reason only. To honor and celebrate the birth of Jesus. In Hebrew, He is the Messiah. In Greek, He is the Christ. Both of which mean that Jesus is the Annointed One, the Chosen, the Savior, the Redeemer, Deliverer. Jesus came to us (Emmanuel) to be the atonement for our sin. To pay the penalty that we could not pay. He declares about Himself in John 14:6, "I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me." What does this have to do with the previous line of thinking? Good question.
The standard acceptable to God for admission to Heaven is perfection. This standard is non-negotiable and never changes. The bad news is we don't qualify. The worse news is, in and of ourselves, we can NEVER be qualified. No matter how much good we try to do, no matter how much money we give, no matter what kind of life we try to live, we will never measure up. The GOOD news is, Jesus paid it all! Jesus qualifies us when we confess with our mouth that He is Lord and believe in our heart that God raised Him from the dead (Romans 10:9-10).
Don't lower your standards to believe what the world says. Experience all that Christmas means this year by experiencing the standard of living available only through Jesus Christ.
And in case you have been in school all day, or at work, or at the store, or at the mall, where no one was allowed to say it to you, Merry Christmas!
Saturday, November 28, 2009
We are looking for the 25th straight win over KY and giving a preview of the text for my sermon tomorrow @ ISBC. #GoVols
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Thursday, November 26, 2009
A Few Things Tiger Is Thankful For:
- God who created me and loved me enough to send His Son, Jesus, to redeem me
- A gorgeous, talented, God-fearing, loving wife and mother to my daughter
- A beautiful, healthy daughter
- Parents that love me and raised me right
- A sister who, I remain convinced, hung the moon, and her amazing family
- A mother-in-law (downstairs) with whom I have a great relationship
- An unbelievable, loving extended family of aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.
- MANY great friends
- A fantastic church family
- An amazing job with a marvelous staff (ISBC AND WCQR)
- Wonderful students to disciple and do ministry with
- Great adults who help make it happen
- A warm, dry house
- More than sufficient clothing
- Vehicles that easily remain operable
- Plentiful, good food
- I am thankful for Kingsport, THE best place to be raised and to live!
- Believe it or not, I am thankful for clean water that flows right into my house
- The men and women who make up our armed forces and who have always stood in the gap protecting the freedoms that we all enjoy.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
This one goes out to all eggnog lovers! If you are a hater, turn back now.
It is finally eggnog season. I love nuzzling a good nog! While I must limit my intake in my present state of health consciousness (Bwahahahaha), I still splurge on occasion. So if you like the nog, here we go. If you find yourself in or around Knoxville, TN or know someone who is traveling to and from there, make tracks to one of the many Weigel’s convenience stores. Their store brand eggnog is the best store-bought eggnog I have ever tried. My mom, as usual, makes some good stuff when I can get her to, but Weigel’s is fantastic.
You Weight Watcher’s folks be prepared to pony up a few exchanges for it, but it is definitely “Tiger Tried” and “Tiger Approved!”
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Thursday, November 5, 2009
At this point, allow me to interject some information that will make this more understandable. Over the past few years, a number of our churches have either split and/or started a new work at a different location. Several of the new churches sought affiliation with the association even though they did not "overtly" identify themselves as Baptist churches by having "Baptist" in their name. They were led, for the most part, by men who had been trained at Baptist seminaries and who had been raised in Baptist churches. Theologically and ecclesiologically the churches were Southern Baptist. Perhaps you have already guessed where this is going.
Among the uneventful business dealings handled earlier in the meeting was voting to accept two more churches "under watch care" of the SBA. "Watch care" is like a probation period which will be followed by full, voting membership if all progresses well. Neither of these churches identify themselves as "Baptist" churches in their names. Which brings us to the motion that is now on the floor (along with my jaw.)
In short, the motion was to amend the constitution of the SBA to require that all churches desiring membership in the SBA identify themselves as Southern Baptist in their corporate documents and have "Baptist" in their name. This motion was seconded by several and was endorsed by people I love and respect. However, I am absolutely opposed to this action.
For those of you of who require a bit of a church primer on Baptist denominations, here we go. There are all kinds of "Baptist" churches- Freewill, Primitive, Regular, and Independent just to name a few. There are wide and varied differences in Baptist churches with respect to beliefs and church polity. I am a member of a Southern Baptist church, the largest protestant denomination in the United States with somewhere around 16 million members. One of the cornerstones of the Southern Baptist church is the recognition of the autonomy of the local church. You see, our churches agree to associate with one another and with the Southern Baptist Convention, but when it comes right down to it, the local church is an autonomous body that is not beholden to any outside entity. Another pillar of Southern Baptist belief is the "priesthood of the believer." Basically, that means each person has full and complete access to God and does not require an intercessor or priest (ecclesiastical hierarchy like pope, bishops, etc.) In short, my church can't tell you or your church what to do and vice versa.
The Southern Baptist Church (SBC), by virtue of its size and power, does not go unnoticed. Many will remember the boycott of Disney, the highly public disagreements between the conservative, moderate and liberal factions of the denomination and a few "fires" that blew up after things were taken out of context. In other words, when the stink rises in the SBC, the media pounces like a hungry preacher on a chicken leg. The thing that is lost in all the verbosity is the fact that, in my humble opinion, the SBC does a very good job of reaching a lost world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We do missions WELL. There is a lot we do WELL, but listening to the national media would not give you that opinion. For this reason, many Baptist churches have dropped the use of the Baptist name. You would be surprised to know that many churches that appear to be "nondenominational" are really just churches that don't want to confuse people with names. They don't want to turn people away before they get in the door. After all, its not about the name on the door as much as it is THE NAME that is written on our heart, Jesus Christ.
I am a proud Southern Baptist. I was raised in an SBC church and after much schooling, prayer and spiritual discernment, I have stayed an "SBCer." Why? Because I believe we have an effective plan and it allows me to live out my faith in Christ in the way that most closely resembles what I read in my Bible. I don't mean this as an indictment of any other denomination, this is merely how I see it. With all of that said, it is unconscionable for me to think of requiring another church to hang "Baptist" on their sign before I will "come out to play" with them.
The representatives of the aforementioned churches who were accepted under watch care of the association were in attendance listening to my "brothers" talk about how these people in these "no-Baptist-in-the-name churches" were "scared" to identify themselves as Baptists. How ironic. If they were scared, they would not have come with hat in hand wanting to be a part of our association so that "TOGETHER" we might be able to make a larger impact for the Kingdom. I never cease to be amazed at how easily we take our eyes off of the goal and slide into derision and conflict.
The SBC has a document called the "Baptist Faith and Message." This document spells out the basic tenets of orthodox Southern Baptist belief. While I don't believe in any creed other than the Holy Bible, any church that accepts the basic beliefs as spelled out in the BF&M is a church I can hang with. I don't care if they meet in a polka dotted skating rink or have "Bubba" in the church name. Quite frankly, I was embarrassed that our friends from these "unorthodox" churches had to hear what went on.
Now back to the meeting. After nearly on hour of back and forth, pros and cons, the motion carried by 3% of the vote. Fortunately, all that means is that it goes to the constitution committee for review and inclusion in the vote in next year's meeting. There it will have to get a 2/3 majority to pass. Come to think of it, that is another (unwritten) pillar of the SBC--- THE COMMITTEE. We have nothing to worry about. One thing is for sure, committees can kill anything!
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Praise the Lord that He still transforms (and saves) lives.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
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Saturday, October 24, 2009
- Tennessee (3-4) outplayed the #1 team in the country and it took two field goal blocks to beat us. They were good blocks no doubt.
- Tennessee has without a doubt THE BEST all-around coaching staff in the nation. To do what they have done to some of the best teams in the nation and to do it with far inferior talent (for this year anyway) points directly to coaching, game planning and scheme.
- The #1 team in the nation did not score a touchdown... And Tennessee did.
- Alabama is deserving of their number one ranking. They are solid in most aspects of the game. However, the play calling on that last drive in the first half was horrendous. They had pounded us for 60-65 yards on the ground with the Wildcat package to get the ball down inside the 10 yard line. Then, amazingly, they try to throw the ball on us. Not good.
- The much maligned Jonathan Crompton outplayed Alabama’s McElroy. Many, including myself, probably judged too harshly when there were many factors that contributed to the early season woes.
- Ingram is a “beast” of a back. He ran for 246 yards last week against South Carolina. He ran for 94 tonight.
- Tennessee’s on-sides kick was the first successful on-sides kick execution by any SEC team this year.
- The best thing to come from the game was the sight of Nick Saban on the sidelines pinching button holes in his britches trying to eek out a victory and realizing how many recruits were on hand to watch. Go Vols!
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Tuesday, October 13, 2009
As I read about the building of the Ark of the Covenant for the umpteenth time, it finally hit me that God wanted the INSIDE to be laden with pure gold. Nowadays we would say, “Why waste money on gold for the inside when only a few choice servants will ever see inside it? Just leave the bare wood exposed.” Because God sees it. It is for Him and His glory and it is not about us.
Now juxtapose what you have just read with what goes on at your church. Is there that level of detail and care given to the worship of God? I am not talking about formality or styles or music. However your church worships, wherever you gather, whatever you do, is there dogged attention to detail? I fear that, as a minister, I too often treat my worship time as routinely as sitting down for a meal or going to Wal-Mart. I fear as a worship leader that I don’t concern myself with the environment and implements utilized in the place where I am leading. Are things cluttered or are they in good order? As a worshipper am I doing everything I can to prepare myself for worship? I was very much convicted by the realization that I am far too callous and cavalier when it comes to worship.
We should certainly adopt the attitude that God lays out in His word with respect to “praying without ceasing” and basically doing everything we do with an attitude of worship because we do what we do to the glory of God. However, I think we should also treat those special times that we gather corporately expressly for the worship of God as if they are truly special--- or do we just not care?
Thursday, October 8, 2009
- In a common place environment at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty?
- Do we stop to appreciate it?
- Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?
Monday, October 5, 2009
Little doubt that the hardships endured by the Hebrew children prepared them for their sojourn in the wilderness on the way to the promised land. May we be ever mindful when we find ourselves in the wilderness of life, perhaps God has a new land He is preparing us to enter as well.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
- Satan's modus operandi from the very beginning has been to (1) counter truth with a lie and (2) appeal to man's fleshly desires in order to drive a wedge between God and man. Some things never change. Ex: After the serpent's conversation with Eve, the tree was "good, pleasant and desirable"
- Fears are brought on by sin (3:10)
- Finger pointing begins (3:12)
- God appoints another seed through Seth (4:26) "Then men began to call on the name of the Lord." God will always raise up those who will honor Him!
- "But Noah..." (5:8) the whole world was going to Hell in a hand basket... but Noah. Oh that it could be said of me someday... "But Tiger..." Whew!
- (11:1-9) So the people were satisfied to stay together in one place and begin to build their city to the Heavens. Hmm?! Does this sound familiar to anyone?
- Abram's first recorded act of faithlessness (12:10-20) God had already made promises thereby assuring His care for Abram and Sarai.
- When at first it appeared that Lot got the sweetest real estate deal (13:8-18), God shows up and rocks Abram's world by granting him the land in every direction. God, in His timing, always lavishes blessings on those who obey and are found faithful.
- At 15:6, I got a cold shiver... Genesis 15 is a pretty big deal.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Watch them in order. Enjoy.
Friday, September 4, 2009
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Are they the best looking, most comfortable shoes I have ever owned? Hardly. Ellie commented that she liked my new slippers. I thought long and hard about spending money on these shoes, and I decided to go for it. Why? Because I want to support a company that has the goal of impacting the world in a positive way. For every pair of Toms shoes that is purchased, a pair is given to a child somewhere in the world who does not have shoes. To date, Toms Shoes has given over 200,000 pairs of shoes to children around the world. They have a goal of giving out 300,000 pairs in 2009 alone. I have been too many places and have seen too many children who did not have their very basic needs met. I have left many pairs of shoes myself, however, the places I have visited have not had too many people, especially children, who could wear my 13's.
So while I know I will endure much heckling from my East Tennessee brethren and can imagine picking up a new moniker- like "Hop Sing" (of Bonanza fame)- I will wear these bad boys and know that somewhere a child is wearing some just like them and her feet are protected from the elements.
Find out more here: http://www.tomsshoes.com
Monday, August 31, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Sunday, August 16, 2009
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Friday, August 14, 2009
Thursday, August 13, 2009
It will be nice to see familiar foes across the field after all these years. I just hope people still talk to me when the dust settles.
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I got a new catalog in the mail today. Three pages in, I see this- The 40 Second Toothbrush. As you can see in the description, this little jewel brushes FOUR, count ‘em, FOUR teeth at once... inside and out. Apparently, this cuts your toothbrushing time by 66%. Wow! Let’s imagine what we could do with that extra minute and a half.
1) Clean the sink (that was Paige’s)
2) Pray (that was my Sunday school answer)
3) Savor my coffee a little more (my reality answer)
4) 50 stomach crunches (the “Tiger” in my imagination)
Seriously now, since when is two minutes just too long to spend on dental hygiene? It seems like in “Microwave America,” everything continually must advance, technologically speaking, so that we can save time. What are we doing with all this time we are saving? Because of my laptop, cell phone, microwave, electric razor, DVR, cordless phone, programmable coffee maker, that Bluetooth thingamabob, and my Exxon Speedpass, I figured the increased efficiency and the shortened amount of time that it takes me to do all those things rather than have attempted the “old fashioned” way, I buy myself an extra 27 minutes a day. What do I do with that you ask? Apparently, the same things you do-- Facebook, Twitter, blogs, internet, PS3, yeah... you're busted. I think you get my point. The best layed plans of mice and men, as the saying goes. We are so busy. We multi-task. We fight, scratch, and claw for more and more time to claim for ourselves so that we can... do what? The thing that I have been coming back to recently is the power of being still. Psalm 46:10 says,"Be still and know that I am God." The down time that I "enjoyed" during Paige's recent health issues actually gave me room to think and reflect on many things. Believe it or not, I whiled away many a moment sitting on my deck and front porch just being quiet and thinking. Occasionally, I read my Bible or something else, but it was truly satisfying to merely be still and... think. I guess I should not use the term "merely" as if to do something that God commands us to do is a trivial pursuit.
Whether you buy the toothbrush or not, use some of that time that you squirrel away during the day and be still. You will be surprised.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Monday, August 10, 2009
Sunday, July 19, 2009
I am on vacation. Though circumstances dictate that we can't really "go" somewhere for vacation, I am taking some time off before school starts back for Ellie and we begin the fall student ministry activities. So instead of going to church this morning, I took my Bible, iPod and a cup of coffee to my back deck and had a little quiet time.
I first read the scripture from Acts 5 that Pastor Roc would probably be preaching from today. Then I was led to Psalms where I read chapter forty four. I made a mental note that in both passages God brought deliverance from bondage, victory over enemies and provision to His people. As I was reading, Third Day's "Mountain of God" came on my iPod. I was listening to the words when I glanced up and directly in front of me was what you see in the picture above. In the trees along the tree line in my backyard was an opening "naturally formed" by the way the limbs had grown over many years. Through this opening, perfectly framed by the limbs, was the mountain known in these parts as Chimney Top. I had seen this many times from my back deck, but never from this particular perspective from a chair that "I just happened to pull up" to this particular spot and NEVER while listening to these words from Third Day:
Even though the journey's long and I know the road is hard Well, the One who's gone before me He will help me carry on After all that I've been through now I realize the truth That I must go through the valley to stand upon the mountain of God.
Now I realize this may be redundant for some, but I want to make sure that everyone who reads this understands the imagery of mountains and valleys, Biblically speaking. Scripture uses the image of valleys to speak of low points or dark points in one's life. For instance, David talks about the "valley of the shadow of death" in Psalm 23. Conversely, mountains are used in scripture to speak of high points or those times in our lives when we are in tune or in step with God. Sometimes we refer to these as mountain-top experiences. God provided a ram for Abraham's sacrifice and spared Isaac's life on a mountain. Moses encountered God and received the law on the mountain. When he came down even his countenance reflected the time he had spent with God. The song reminds us that in life we must endure the valleys (with Jesus by our side) in order to experience the mountain that God has for us.
After pondering my scripture readings, as well as, this song experience, I realized that the Holy Spirit was speaking to me. I came to a few realizations that I will share:
- I don't know why God chose this particular time for Paige's health ordeal. For whatever reason, we were not supposed to go on this vacation that we were so looking forward to. I intend to use this time off from work AND vacation to listen to Him.
- God has already seen us through and will continue to see us through this situation with Paige's health.
- Even when my first inclination in many difficult circumstances I encounter is to "handle it," God has a better plan. I need to learn to stand upon truth, wait on the Lord and let Him bring whatever I need- be it deliverance, victory, provision or other.
- I keep myself so busy that I forget the benefit of doing my quiet time/study AND going the next step of putting my thoughts and reflections down in the form of this blog. It really helps me work through my thoughts and I pray that whoever reads this blog will also be encouraged, challenged and even entertained. I will do better.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Then there was the small matter of Paige's health concerns, cancer scare, and surgery. Obviously, all my belly aching on Twitter and Facebook about not getting to go on our vacation is just me being silly. The notion that Paige is through her surgery, is cancer-free and is recovering well FAR outstrips laying on a beach somewhere vegetating. We can go somewhere later when everyone is healthy and feeling good. I am overjoyed with what God has done in our lives and know that this has happened for a reason.
Today, some of our relatives (they really aren't related, but they are closer than just friends,) Larry and Jane Luethke, brought Mexico to us. See the video for more. The moral of the story is always buy the trip insurance (PTL!) and trust the Lord. He WILL take care of you.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Even as I write this, however, my mind is thinking of all the people who received news today of a much more sobering nature. Their tumor was malignant. The doctors did all they could, but they could not save him. The couple that lost their child to a miscarriage. My heart goes out to the husband who waited just as I was waiting only to receive the news that his sweetheart went to sleep in an O.R. somewhere and woke up in heaven. I have seen it too many times in my ministry and I have held too many hands that were struggling to grasp the news. Don’t think for one second that I take the news that my family received today for granted.
Today, it is easy to say that we were blessed. So what about all those other people? Did God choose not to bless them? Difficult question isn’t it? You see God is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. Everything he does, every action or inaction, is justified, perfectly planned and orchestrated. The difficult things we endure today may be reflected on in the future-- after the benefit of the passing of time—and they may truly be a blessing. Blessings come in many different packages. Blessings come on God’s timetable and no other. The fact that today happened to be a high watermark day in the life of the Brooks family does not ensure that tomorrow will be peachy keen. Although, I am still a young man ;) I have seen enough of life and I have seen enough of death to understand more fully the meaning of some key passages of scripture:
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."- John 16:33
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”- Psalm 23:4
Lest we forget that it was man who was responsible for the way things are today:
To the woman he said, "I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you." To Adam he said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, 'You must not eat of it,' "Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return." –Genesis 3:16-19
We fool ourselves and we are woefully misguided when we presume that we deserve better than what God gives us.
“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” – Romans 3:23
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6:23
As easy as it may be for me to praise God in the midst of all that He has done for me, I also need to be able to praise Him in the storm as was so aptly penned by Mark Hall in the Casting Crowns hit song. I am reminded of the story of Horatio Spafford who, out of the most tragic of events- the death of his four precious daughters in a shipwreck, wrote one of the most beloved hymns of all time:
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
May my faith be that strong. Amen.
I will do what I can to update the blog throughout the day as things progress. Between this and my Twitter (see left column) you should be well informed. We continue to be inundated with your love and prayers and you would not believe what that means or how effective that is.
Grace and peace to you.
Monday, July 13, 2009
After not hearing anything other than "they will probably reschedule for tomorrow," and thinking that at 4:30 the people responsible for scheduling would be leaving soon, I called the hospital. Here is the unofficial transcript of that conversation.
"Hello, Indian Path Admitting."
"Hello, my wife, Paige Brooks, had been scheduled for surgery today and it was postponed. I was just wanting to know if they had been rescheduled for tomorrow and what time."
"Yes sir, they are doing those surgeries tomorrow. Let's see, um....... I would have her here at... uh. Well, what time were you scheduled for today?"
"Well, that will probably be okay... 11am."
"That will probably be okay? Is that the official word?"
"Yes. Yes sir! We'll see you tomorrow morning at 11AM."
So now having the official word, I wanted to let all those who were interested know that we are now scheduled for tomorrow morning, same Bat time, same Bat channel.
One must laugh to keep from crying. We feel your prayers. Which reminds me... I am going to have to get back on my soap box just a moment. We have received all manner of well-wishes. We have received countless notices, verbally and electronically, that people are praying. We have also received "thoughts and feelings" and probably some Beach Boy "good vibrations." Understand that we appreciate your concern in whatever form it presents itself, however, thoughts, feelings, and vibrations will do nothing to help our stress or heal Paige's body. Only the God of the Universe, the Prince of Peace, the Great Physician has the "where-with-all" to make a difference in our situation. If you don't know Him-- please, let me pray for you. We will be fine no matter what comes of this. But if you don't know Jesus Christ, you have a much greater need than we have.
I had to get that off my chest.
I will keep you informed.
This is just an aside, but that fact that your operating room can be flooded due to a storm outside forces me to call many things into question. Sounds like an episode of M.A.S.H. and I am waiting for Klinger to call me. I'm just saying...
Thank you for the outpouring of encouragement and prayer support. It really does make a huge difference. We are waiting on the Lord.
Friday, July 10, 2009
We are trusting the Lord and praying 1) that she will only have to lose one ovary, 2) there will be NO cancer and 3) that her recovery will be speedy.
Every day many people ask us what they could do for us and I will tell you that the most important thing you could do for us is pray. I don't say that flippantly or with sense of piety. I truly mean that. This is a very difficult and stressful time for Paige, obviously, but I don't mind telling you that this has been one of the most difficult weeks of my life. Not only have I had to deal with this, but I have a very serious situation with some students at church with which I am continuing to have to bear the burden. Please pray for wisdom, patience and grace for me with respect to that.
More to come.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Thursday, May 21, 2009
You can read the previous post for the story behind why I am doing this. If you would like to give to help me reach my goal today, simply click HERE to be taken to my personal MDA homepage where you can give safely and securely online.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
This Thursday, May 21, I have agreed to be "arrested" for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. I have never done this and I am very particular concerning for whom I will beg money. Yet, I agreed this time for the following reason.
I had a very good friend by the name of Shirley Smith. A great person with a great smile and a killer alto voice, Shirley was easy to love. I went to church with Shirley and her family for years and have many fond memories of time spent singing and fellowshipping. At an age when life was just getting good, Shirley was diagnosed with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) otherwise known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. We all watched as Shirley became trapped inside a body that would not respond until the day Shirley went on to her heavenly home to sing over Jesus.
MDA has a major division devoted to research to find a cure for ALS. That is why I agreed to be jailed. I have to raise $1700 "bail money." This will help to fund some life-changing research. I have made it very simple to give. Click HERE to be taken to my own MDA webpage where you can give easily and securely online.
God bless you and thanks so much for helping me with this cause.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
This is the National Day of Prayer. I was honored by being asked to offer a prayer for media as a representative of the media at a small prayer breakfast gathering in Johnson City this morning. I offer it to you as simply one of many prayers that ought to be offered today and everyday. The media is unquestionably one of the most powerful and influential forces in our world today. We must cover it in prayer.
Heavenly Father, today we bow our heads and we acknowledge you as the Sovereign God of the Universe. Your reign is supreme, over all of the establishments of man. It is under Your authority, God, that the institutions which make up the media have come into existence. Radio, television, motion pictures, Internet and all print media formulate one of the most powerful and influential forces in our culture today. In and of themselves, we understand that these can be great tools that, in the right hands, can bring life and prosperity, but in the wrong hands, can bring death and adversity.
Father, we pray for the leaders in each of these mediums. May they understand that with great privilege comes great responsibility. Proverbs reminds us, Father, that, “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” (Proverbs 12:18) We pray that they would seek Your face and Your will and that what they sow would bear good fruit.
We pray, Father, for the actor, the director, the writer, the on-air personality, that we would be people of integrity, understanding that we are not to “let any unwholesome talk come out of our mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Eph. 4:29).
Father, we pray that You would raise up people of faith who would seek to do Your will and who would be motivated to take the reins of these mediums and utilize their great power and influence to accomplish Your special purposes in this world.
Finally, Father, we thank You that in Your love and grace You grant us the freedom of choice. We pray that You would give us all discernment enough to know truth, your Truth, Father. That we would recognize and turn away from that which would lead us to confusion and fear. Help us to find and give credence to that which leads us to the One who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. It is in His powerful name that we pray, that name that is above every name, to whom even the media must answer, Jesus, the Christ. Amen.
Monday, May 4, 2009
As she rode with her mother from the church to Perkin's for supper, she declared that she was ready! She did not want to even wait until the car stopped. She was shocked to find out that mommy could actually lead her in "the prayer." She had always assumed that daddy, "the professional," had to be the one to do such things and approach the throne of grace! I don't know when "the prayer" became the tradition because the Bible never spells out any specified prayer formula for salvation. The Bible plainly says in Romans 10:9,10 that we simply confess and believe... no prayer is mentioned. There is absolutely nothing wrong with praying, mind you. It is a nice formal way of "sealing the deal," but it is just another one of those traditions that we have sanctified.
When we got home last night, I "grilled" her. I am not wooed by the sweetness and light of a little girl's fanciful whimsy. I wanted to make sure she knew exactly what she was doing. To my delight, as I began to talk about sin she began quoting scripture... my 6-year-old quoted Romans 3:23. As I began to talk about what Jesus did about our sin, she quoted John 3:16. When it finally dawned on us that she did, indeed, know what she was doing, Paige and I were overwhelmed with emotion.
Words can't express my gratitude for all the unseen people over the years who have rocked her in the nursery while whispering the love of Jesus. The ones who taught her Sunday School classes and told her the Good News. The ones who helped her make a craft in VBS that symbolized God's love for her. The pastors who have preached to her. The family and friends who have just loved her. All of them played a part in this.
But here is what I want to say to parents. Nothing on this earth can replace or duplicate what YOU can offer your children, spiritually. Never abdicate your role in their spiritual lives to people like me under the guise that "it is my job." In many respects, YOU hold the keys to the Kingdom! Tell them. As it says in Deuteronomy 6:7, "Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home, and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." In other words, at all times be living Jesus for your kids. The reward is out of this world!