Sunday, August 31, 2008

False Alarm in Vancouver


"Honey! What is that loud bell ringing for?" my wife said as she tugged at my shoulder across the twin beds.
Startled! We jumped to our feet, turned on the lights, looked across at the television where the digital clock shouted 1:23 A.M. As the bell continued, we sought to dial the hotel desk. No answer! People and panic became obvious outside our door as the sudden awakened attempted to push the button for the elevators. No response. They had been shut off. Now it was evident we would walk down 34 floors to our safety. Finally, we found the exit stairway, and in our haste we were on our way along with others who were as alarmed.
This hotel, one of Vancouver, British Columbia's most beautiful, had attracted people from many parts of the world, and they were like us making their way down the same exit tunnel. Many Japanese and Chinese that were a part of another tour group staying on the same level were passing us one by one. We didn't understand what they were saying, but one sound reflecting the same word came from their lips. In their near panic it must have been, "Hurry! Hurry!" We did! But not at their pace.
Finally, we made it to the plaza level, and couldn't exit. One Oriental lady who spoke English shouted, "This door is locked! Is there another way?" Since I was at the top of the stairway I turned to an outside door, looked down the hallway and saw another exit way. "This way!" I shouted. Again the throng advanced.
Then four more flights later we opened the outside door to a ground level parking area with steps leading up and out to the street and a large open area across where at least a couple hundred people were standing.
Blinking lights from two huge fire trucks spoke as they rotated in the darkness. A second glance revealed a harried, but presentable group of people from so many countries.
After a few minutes a loud speaker broke the sound with, "This is the hotel manager. We want to advise you that this has been a false alarm. Please return to your rooms. It is safe! I repeat, it is safe."
Well, we were not the only ones that didn't move. Most remained and didn't make any motion of leaving. After a few loud speaker announcements and the removing of the fire engines the crowd began to disburse. My wife and I, and some Delta Airline friends who we had met on our trip back in Alberta, decided to sit in the lobby for a few minutes before returning to our rooms.
In a few minutes one of the many night managers came by to reassure us of our safety. "A man was smoking a cigar on the 33rd floor, a non-smoking floor, where a fire detection device detected it and set off the alarm," she said. "It has turned out to be a false alarm thank goodness," she continued.
False alarm. What a long fierce walk (or should I say run) for just a false alarm. However, life presents its time of alarms for us so we can consider our ways, our destiny and to recheck for our exit.
We returned to our 34th floor room and our friends to the 21st, but somehow we wanted to visit the 33rd. But after thinking it over we were glad just to return.
This Bible verses continues to comfort me when I am weary: Psalm 4:8, “I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makes me dwell in safety. “

Monday, August 25, 2008

My Greatest Trip

Many have asked, “What has been your longest or greatest trip?”

Well, that is not hard for me to answer because, 50 years ago in February of 1958, I drove from my home in Jonesboro, Arkansas to Pocahontas to meet a young lady who I didn’t realize would change the course of my life for the next half century.

She and I both had been engaged to another before we had been introduced, but in God’s providence these were not His chosen mates for us.

We knew each other for only six months, a short period for the standards of that time, but long enough to know God had planned we make this trip together.

So, on August 18th of 2008, we celebrated privately our 50th wedding anniversary at our home in Farmington, Missouri. Health failure the last two and a half years made the trip a harder, but we are both rejoicing that our health is returning and we are so blessed to have met so many new friends and learn the value of good health and trusting in our divine One should He desire for us to go on home.

We do plan to have a public ceremony on Saturday October 4th at 2-4 p.m. with the renewing of our vows at our church and a time to meet our many friends in the fellowship hall. We personally invite you and our community friends.

So, 18,250 days, 438,000 hours, and 26,880,000 minutes with the same woman has been a real trip for us both. She has been referred to by my friends as a great woman! But she is more; she is a wonderful wife, mother, lady, minister’s wife, and Godly influence on all she meets.

Little did I dream two young kids would meet, fall in love, have the same goals and aspirations; be able to live together with the peace and joy we have experience. Only God in His plan could have brought two totally different personalities together.

In our many trips during the last 50 years, this has to have been our greatest trip and the others just side shows.

We are grateful for the thousands of friends we have made on the way in the many places we have lived or traveled. We rejoice for the many friends we have found in Farmington these last four years.

We took the follow Bible verses to heart and have lived by its precepts these 50 years.

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body.
Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband. -- Ephesians 5:22-33.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Where Christ was laid


I have been to Israel a number of times, but on this particular trip as I visited the tomb where Christ was laid. However, this time I did something I shouldn’t have done.

The large group of people was being led through the area by a guide followed by the caretaker of the beautiful garden and tomb.

Not realizing I was in a restricted area, I saw the tomb was open so I walked through the garden into the tomb, which was a little larger that I suspected? Not seeing anyone to detour me, I walked in. Just to the left of the opening was a carved out area where Christ was supposed to have laid. Out of curiosity, I stepped over into the hewn out rock and lay down in it. My head and feet touched both ends of the place where He lay leaving me with the assumption that Christ was shorter than I am.

Leaving the tomb, I immediately faced the caretaker who was shouting at me with obvious anger, because I had invaded this hallowed place. Needless to say, my exit time exceeded my entrance as I hasten out of the garden. The sound of his voice did not subside until I was totally out of the gate of that protected area.

As I look back to this incident, I regret I had ventured into the tomb forbidden to everyone. While I didn’t know I was doing something wrong, I must admit it has been something I have cherished all my life.

The resurrection of our Lord is the most important fact to a world of people who believe in Christ, and the empty tomb represents a truth of a savior who lives.

John 19:41
“Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid.”

Matthew 27:58-60
“And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.”

John 11:25
“Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:”

Monday, August 11, 2008

Giving never fails

Mom Lane Taught Me How to Live by Learning How to Give

As a paper boy I had collected $18.00 from my paper route and put my $1.80 tithe in my secret pocket. (I have always wondered why it was called a secret pocket, because I knew exactly where it was.)

The day after the conclusion of collecting was the Saturday shopping day in my home town. So I thought I would help my parents out by buying my school clothes for the coming year. My first purchase was three pairs of blue jeans. Then bought two shirts at another store. My money was growing scared as I walked in front of the local department store where I saw a beautiful blue shirt with white poke-a-dots.

The price at the base of the shirt advised me that I didn’t have enough to buy it….unless I went to the secret pocket. I went on for about a block then turned back to take a second look. As I turned to leave again, my feet seemed to head into the store and I did what I knew was wrong. Yes, a blue poke-a- dotted shirt went with me after taking 23 cents of God’s money out of my SECRET pocket.

The next day, I entered Sunday school with that new shirt and a pair of the jeans I had purchased. My guilt was surfacing as I immediately asked Mom Lane, my Sunday school teacher; “God doesn’t care if I use some of His money to get what I wanted. Does He?”

After more than 57 years I can still hear her reply, “Yes sir, He does care! Before this day is over something will happen to than shirt.” Well, I didn’t know she was also a prophetess. Mom Lane was three-fourth Indian and she was very versed in the Bible and truly believed it all. Besides she was our preacher’s wife and we felt she was as close to God as he was. So I always listened to her every word.

She invited all of her class to her house for an after church dinner. We boys headed for the field and a little creek grabbing all the little fish we could. Our shoes were wet, as were our jeans, when she rang the bell on her back porch.

We all began to run, when one of the fellows said “it is closer to the house if we go through the field.” That field was fenced in with barbed wire and we had to go through it twice before getting to her house. Do I have to tell you what happened to the back of a blue Poke-a-dotted shirt?

From that day on, I never took anything I knew was God’s. I was 13 on that day and I did not become a Christian until I was 17. But, I tithed four years before my salvation, because my Sunday school teacher instilled in me that everything was created by God for our betterment as we trust Him.

I believed it because I believed what she believed. Born in a log sharecroppers house with very little hope for a life beyond that area, I learned there was a better life and craved for it. I honestly believe that what she taught me as a lad has caused me to do things, and go places I would not have been given the opportunity. Since those days, I have published more than 750 articles in various forms and conducted over 1100 seminars in 48 states and 35 foreign countries and have been widely used as a Christian education consultant, workshop leader, or minister, by 68 denominations in churches of all sizes.

My convictions for a better life came from this precious lady. I am convinced what we are, and how we teach, does influence lives. Mom Lane still continues to teach me.

“Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye said, Where in shall we return? Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Where in have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” – Malachi 3:7-10.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Great Preacher in a Great Church


Services had just begun in the old famed Westminister Chapel on Buckingham Gate next to the Buckingham Palace where the Queen family lives much of the year near downtown London.

Every visit we have made to London we visit this church and have never gone but what we were blessed. The people were always friendly and welcomed us openly. It has always been a church for us to take spiritual refuge from our weary days.

On our last visit, my thoughts turned to the old greats who had pastored this church, which became a precious reminder of the gospel ministry in Great Britain. Such men as Martin Lloyd-Jones, G. Campbell Morgan, with R.T. Kendell, it’s recently retired pastor; thrilled me with the echoes of former sermons still seemed to bounce off the walls like vibrations trying to find a place to lie.

I could faintly hear Jones preaching from Ephesians or see Morgan in his Friday night teaching sessions. But one former pastor seemed to flood these out as I remembered John Henry Jowett. How could one church, or people, be so fortunate to have had such pastors? Generally only one area has had the opportunity to have a pastor of such fame. But in one church so many! How rare!

Jowett, like Morgan, was a Congregationalist and considered by his own generation to be the greatest preacher of his day. A strong believer in missions and Sunday schools he worked in every channel of church growth. I could see his work everywhere I turned, but remembered him most by one of his statements. "In all our preaching we must preach for verdicts. We must present our case. We must seek a verdict, and we must ask for an immediate execution of the verdict. Our ultimate object is to move the will, to set it on another course, to increase its pace, and to make it sing in the ways of God's commandments."

I conceded that day to his view, "To preach for verdict."

Very few verses in the Bible make a stronger cry for decision and change than the following: 2 Chron. 7:14, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”