Pastor's Blog
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May 2, 2011, 10:12 AM

Shattered Glass


As most of you know, I live in a nice house. It isn’t my house, it belongs to the church, but since I’m pastor I am fortunate enough to get to live there. Truth be told, this is quite easily the biggest and nicest house I have ever lived in. Growing up a military brat we often lived in small and old houses on base somewhere in the US or abroad. Then when I got married, Jolee and I always seemed to live in fixer-uppers. Her idea, she likes to remake houses as she thinks they should be, while I would prefer to move into a perfectly fine house and simply enjoy it. When we visited the house for the first time and walked through it, I couldn’t believe how nice it was. I stopped at the front door, and noticed that there were three glazed windows right next to the door. I mentioned how nice those windows were, letting in light but not letting people look into the house.  That’s when someone told me sheepishly that those windows weren’t glazed, but had some time ago shattered and what I was looking at was not nice and clean as it appeared, but was in all actuality something that was broken.
Yesterday afternoon as I was sitting in the living room, I glanced over at the front door and with the light coming through the windows just right I could see the many small cracks in the glass that showed that while it appeared beautiful, in reality it was a shattered version of its former self. And the more I thought about that the more I thought about people I encounter all the time. When I first meet them they always seem so nice and wonderful and put together. However, the longer I get to know them, and the deeper relationship I develop with them the more I come to realize that they are not what they first appear. More times than not, what I see is a shattered and broken version of something that once was. It’s always something different that has made them that way: a broken marriage, a deep depression, great loss of a loved one, frustration at work, trouble with the kids, disappointment, failure, loneliness, loss of hope.  The more I look, the more I see shattered lives all around me, and I wonder if anyone else sees?
It seems that people are scared to admit that they are shattered and broken. They are worried what others might think about them, that being that open and vulnerable might lead to them getting hurt again, or perhaps they are just embarrassed at the situation they find themselves in. Yet what they long for and need more than anything, is for someone to see them in their broken state and to tell them that they are still beautiful and priceless, just like they were before they were broken and shattered.
So here’s what we’re going to do about this:
First, if your life is shattered and broken: You are precious and loved and treasured by God! Jesus said He didn’t come for the people who had it all together, but for those who were broken and falling apart (Luke 5:31-32). It is ok to be broken, because everyone is, some are just better hiding it than others. God loves you just like you are, and if you ask Him to He will help put you back together one piece at a time. It will be slow, and it won’t be easy, but He loves you so much that no matter what you’ve done, He thinks you’re worth the time and effort to piece back together! You matter to Him, He loves you more than anything!!!
Second, if your life is not shattered and broken right now or you’ve been put back together: Find the broken and love them. How else did you think Jesus was going to put them back together again but through you? God’s favorite way of working is through those He created. Your job is to love others and help them put the pieces back together through the Holy Spirit. Invest your life in broken people. Open yourself and your scars up to them. Be accepting and forgiving, guide gently, pray fervently. Give yourself to them and help them heal.
 
Here’s my final thought. You know what I secretly think about those windows in my house? I think they’re the most beautiful windows we have. Yes, they’re broken, but the way they look when the light shines through them takes my breath away! And you know why? Because we’re all broken to, and when The Light (Jesus) shines through our brokenness, how we look takes God’s breath away. And that is a beautiful thing indeed!    
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May 2, 2011, 10:11 AM

Rescue Team


This morning when I woke up I do what I always do and turned on the tv to catch the news. Of course, the lead story was the disaster that has occurred in Haiti. As of the last statistics I saw there are 70,000 confirmed dead and experts believe in the next week that number will climb to well over 100,000. Do you realize that many people is equal to the population of Abilene? Imagine if everyone in Abilene was suddenly killed in a disaster. The enormity of this whole disaster is truly beyond thought.
I know this isn’t the first disaster recently, or even the deadliest, but I’m sad to say that it seems like these disasters aren’t “real” to us. I don’t know if it is because we see this kind of disaster on the movies all the time or on the news, but we need to remind ourselves that these are real people really suffering, and not simply some characters we see on the television. On that note, I am excited and proud of FBCKC. Yesterday when we asked people to sacrificially give to Haiti, the church gave $1045.15!!! With that being multiplied three times through grants, we’re essentially giving $4180.60. We will not send in the offering until next Monday, so those of you who asked if you could still give this coming Sunday, the answer is yes.
On another note, I have to tell you something I saw on the reporting this morning that made me think. The report was focusing in on a rescue team from Miami that was looking for survivors in the rubble. It has been six days since the quake and most rescues occur within the first three days, or people aren’t rescued at all, just bodies are found. But a man was working in the rubble of his home when he heard what he thought were voices. He yelled, and to his surprise a voice yelled back from the collapsed house next to his. The man’s next door neighbors were a single mom with four children. She made it out carrying her 3 year old son, but her 6 year old son Nezer had gone back in the house to try and help his 14 year old sister and 5 year old brother out, and the house fell in on him and his siblings. Now the neighbor heard the voice of the daughter and the younger son, and he went and found the rescue team from Miami.
The team came over and quickly and carefully cut away the concrete and rebar, and out of the rubble and death, pulled the boy and his older sister. The cries of joy from his mother were unintelligible joy, and as her son was pulled away to the hospital he raised a shaky little arm and gave the thumbs up. But as much joy as his rescue brought, there was terrible sorrow as well. The sister had thought that her older brother (named Kevin) was alive in the rubble with her, but as the rescuers got to him they found that he had died sometime after the collapse. His sister laid on a stretcher wailing her anguish at losing her brother, moaning that she thought he alive but she couldn’t see that he was dead.
This terrible and wonderful story really made me think spiritually. Our world is a disaster, and has been devastated by sin. It has collapsed what was once good and made it wasteland. And because of that there are people all over this world trapped and dying. Buried under their sin, and separately in need of rescue by the Savior, and we are the recue team! We are the ones who need to be out in the rubble looking for survivors, helping pull them to safety and freedom, pointing them to Jesus. We are the ones who must be sacrificing our time and comfort to save those who have no hope that they might find life in Him. And our job is the most important one in the world, because lives are on the line. Are we looking for those souls in need of help, are we giving our all to rescue them? After all we should all remember that it wasn’t so long ago that we were the trapped ones crying out for anyone to come and rescue us.
Pray for broken hearts church…for the people lost and dying in Haiti that need help, for the people lost and dying here in Karnes City that need Jesus. Will you be part of the rescue team?
Here is a link to the story I was talking about abcnews.go.com/video/playerindex. 
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May 2, 2011, 10:10 AM

Deacon's Meeting


Wow…are you a little washed out by all that has happened with Christmas and are just now realizing that you still have to deal with New Year’s just later this week? There has been so much going on! It will be nice when everything settles down. Meanwhile it was back to work today, and I had an early morning meeting with a deacon in my church, Ed. He stopped by my house and picked me up while it was still dark and we went visiting. So after a short drive we climbed up in a deer blind and waited to see if any deer would come visiting. (Have I mentioned that all deacon’s meetings should be like this?)

Ed had a cool new speaker his son Taylor had picked up at Cabela’s, it is a camouflage with a cord to plug into your i-phone, and on the i-phone we had an app for deer calls and horn rattling. Technology has forever changed hunting, and not in a bad way! As the sun came up, Ed pointed out a deer about 200 yards away at a feeder. It was a small 6 point buck, too small to shoot, but really cool to look at. So Ed starts playing with the horn sounds on the i-phone. They sounded really realistic, but no good. So then Ed makes the call of a pretty doe desiring attention…but nothing.  The buck was much more interested in corn than in our sounds of a doe looking for a date. But then, about 10 minutes later after he’d eaten his fill, we played the call again, and this time the buck came up pretty close to find out where his digital doe was.
As I sat there holding a hand-warmer (which by the way didn’t actually heat up until 3 hours later!!!) watching this beautiful animal, I have to admit it made me think about church. Here’s what I thought. As Christians, as the church, we are kind of like hunters hoping to be visited. And we want to put out these great new calls to try and get people interested in what we’ve got going on. However, people without a relationship with Jesus (the buck) are not concerned with the fancy calls we give them, they are more  concerned with what they need. For the deer, it was corn to eat. For people, it is acceptance, being heard, finding someone to spend time with them, being invited to hang out, finding someone to love them, being wanted, a friend. And it will only be after we give people without Jesus these things that they are so desperately needing, that they will ever hear our call telling them about Jesus.
We must quit being so concerned about getting people “in church” or behaving a certain way. Instead, we need to focus on finding people with needs, and meeting those immediate needs, because it is only then, after we have developed relationship and cared for them that they can hear things from us that really matter, like how much God loves them…so much that He sent Jesus for them. Makes sense really, I had a teacher who used to always say, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” In James 2:15-16 we read it this way, “Suppose you see a brother or sister who needs food or clothing,and you say, "Well, good-bye and God bless you; stay warm and eat well"-- but then you don't give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?”
Let’s quit hiding in our stands making calls out to the world to come to us that they pay no attention to because they are consumed with their needs. Instead, let’s climb down and go over to them and help them with their needs, so that when we then in love call out to them, they will hear, and come, and meet the One who changes everything. Now that’s some good hunting! Hmmmm, sounds like I need should talk with the deacons about this...I better call Ed and schedule another early morning meeting! 
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May 2, 2011, 10:09 AM

Are You Dying?


Today we're going to talk about death, simply because it has been on my mind and something I've had to deal with a lot lately. This past week I had two funerals in four days. And I have concluded that one of the sadder parts of my job is the fact that I have to do funerals. Funerals are so sad, because even if you know that someone was a Christian and you know they're with Jesus, you just can't get over the fact that their leaving hurts, and makes you grieve. And the loss and pain are real, even if you know that you will see them again. Of course the really sad funerals are the ones where you are not so sure where the loved one ended up...but that's not what I want to talk about.

The hardest part of any funeral for me is the eulogy, that wrapping up the essence of who a person was in just a couple of minutes, trying to convey to people their deepest loves and hopes and dreams. The sharing of who someone was as we say our final goodbye to them is a big deal, it says who they were, and tells us what they devoted their lives to, what really mattered to them. So it was with a sad heart that at the conclusion of a eulogy at one of the funerals, they played a song that the man had requested to sum him up...."My Way" sung by Elvis Presley. I was amused that every song at that funeral was done by Elvis, and even more amazed that they had a copy of Elvis doing this song, but there is nothing sadder to me than having this song played at your funeral if you're a Christian. I mean have you listened to the words?

For what is a man what has he got
If not himself then he has not
To say the things he truly feels
And not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows
And did it my way

Every time I hear this song, it makes me wish there was another version called "His Way" that they could play at my funeral.

For what is man what has he got ,
If not Jesus then he has not.
To speak to others in their blind need,
To lead them to the one who sees,
The record shows, He took my blows, so I did it His way.
 
My point is this, if you were to die today, what would they say about you in your eulogy? Would they talk more about how you loved hunting and fishing, or how you had a heart for Jesus? Would they focus more on how you were outspoken politically, or how you stood up for Jesus in everything? Would they talk about how much you put in your job, or how hard you worked for the kingdom? Would they tell how you're family meant everything to you, or that Jesus meant so much that you taught your family that He comes first before even them? If you were to die tomorrow what would they say about you?
 
My father-in-law has a t-shirt that says, "Live so the preacher won't have to lie at your funeral." And as a preacher that makes me laugh, but what would thrill my soul would be to get up at your funeral and say this:
 
What more can we say about (your name here)? They loved Jesus with all their heart soul and mind. And they loved us with all that they had. We are richer because of that, and we know God better because of how they loved. And if they were here today, they would only want to ask you if you were living the same way. (Your name here) was not perfect, far from it, but daily their life was a journey to know and love God more, and to share that love with us. And they made a choice a long time ago to live every day as if it were their last, and to end each day one step closer to God. And they want to challenge you to do the same. So today as (your name here) dances with Jesus, we don't have to ask if it was worth it, because we can feel their joy even down here. Now we just have to decide if we'll be brave enough to live the same way.
 
How we live matters, so live like you're dying. Love God, love each other, know Him more intimately daily. Don't just go through life doing it your way, take a risk and do it His way! 
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May 2, 2011, 10:07 AM

What Are You Looking At?


Been a long time since my last blog…life can be hectic. Since Thanksgiving is this week, thought I’d share 2 stories with you that I’m thankful for. The first comes from dear friend of mine who is a music minister in Hong Kong. She shares a story about how God can redeem anyone. In the story no names are used because most people in Hong Kong are simply studying or working there short time, and must soon return to mainland China. As you know, mainland China frowns on anything other than state sponsored Christianity, so names are frequently withheld for protection. Here’s the story she shared with me:
On January 23 of this year, a Hong Kong truck driver was driving drunk when he struck a taxi, killing all six occupants.  This driver, Mr. L, ended up encountering some Christians and found his way to our church.  Though his English is limited, he attends regularly.  Yesterday, he was baptized at our church, and—as is our custom here at KIBC—he shared his faith journey at that time.  (You will find portions of the English translation of his testimony below.)  Throughout the service, his seven-year-old daughter sobbed, inconsolably.  As we sang “God Will Take Care of You” and “It is Well with My Soul” thereafter, I found myself pondering the fact that if ever a family needed to hear such a word of hope, this was it.  Mr. L faces trial in a few weeks; prayers for him and his family are welcomed.  
Mr. L’s story:   Early this year, I was in a detention centre for couple of days due to a fatal car crash; lives were lost. Even though I was granted bail, I was deeply sorry for my part in the situation which caused families to lose their loved ones. The accident was a nightmare. I nearly broke down, and a family member worried about me, and then suggested I seek help from his Christian friend, T.
T. brought me to church where I met a lot of friends. Though they knew I had a trial waiting for me, not only did they not look down upon me, but they also prayed for me. When I was sick, they visited me; their love made me feel the presence of our Lord, so I decided to accept Jesus as my personal Savior.
I’ve changed since I became a Christian; I’ve learned how to trust God, for I lift my wife and my daughter up to Him. I have courage from Him to take up my responsibilities and to face the coming trial. I even had courage to let my dear daughter know that I may have to be in jail because of the fatal accident. I asked her to be good to her mama and study hard. We hugged each other in tears. It was the first time I really felt I’d set an example for her – to be brave and to learn lessons from consequences though they may be painful. I come for Bible study and worship every Sunday.  I’ve learned the teachings and the miracles of Jesus, and they’re so true and so real. I’m so thankful for His grace. I’ve decided to follow Jesus—no turning back. -Mr. L
The other story is from close to home. Yesterday morning right before church, I got the opportunity to talk with a guy named Joseph. He wanted to be baptized, and as I explained that what he really needed was a personal relationship with Jesus. I asked him if that was what he wanted to do, and he said, “Most definitely.” But then he paused for a moment, and looked me in the eye and asked, “Will God accept me like this?” and he motioned to his big neon green earrings and clothing that some people would say was not church clothing (as if there were such a thing.) I smiled at him and said that in the Bible God tells us that man looks at the outside, but God look sat out hearts. So I asked him if his heart was ready, and He said, “Without a doubt.” And then Joseph started a relationship with Jesus.
2 guys that people would have trouble with for different reasons, and now 2 guys that are our brothers. Wow! Aren’t you glad that God meets us where we are and regardless of what we’ve done and welcomes us into His family! Where would we be without that kind of love? So what am I thankful for? For Mr. L and Joseph, my 2 new brothers, and for all my family striving to walk faithfully with our Lord. What are you thankful for? Leave a comment sharing what you’re thankful to God for that we might encourage one another! 
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