San Antonio - I want to begin by thanking all of you for your prayers for my family. This has been a difficult time for all of us, and I don’t believe we could have made it without the prayers of so many people.
Today was especially difficult as we had a private burial service for my Dad. Tomorrow will be tough as well as we have the public memorial service for my Dad. The service will begin at (or around) 7:00 PM. I may see if there is a way to stream it or perhaps utilize FaceBook Live.
Monday night we went to one of those restaurants that have peanut shells all over the floor (my Mom really wanted some “real” food, as several people had brought sandwich stuff and cakes of all sorts by the house).
When we entered, Jamie immediately began to feel nervous. There was loud music, a crowd of people, and peanut shells all over the floor. This last one was more about Gabriel then her...she was afraid he was going to eat some shells and get sick.
We found a corner of sorts in the waiting area and, after cleaning a part of the floor with our foot, Jamie put Gabriel in a “down” (that’s where he lays down on the floor) and was petting him.
Jamie was still nervous, though, and told Monica as much. About that time, Gabriel started pawing at Jamie. She soon found Gabriel on her lap (or as best he could with her just squatting, but not sitting on the floor).
You see, Gabriel has been trained to pick up on subtle clues that Jamie is panicking...sometimes before she even knows it herself. When he picks up on this, he will immediately “go to work.” And he did just that Monday night.
See Gabriel isn’t just Jamie’s dog...Jamie is Gabriel’s girl. His job is to pay attention to her and her only. Even when he is “being a dog” (i.e. when he is “off duty”), he still checks with Jamie before doing anything...to be sure she is OK.
That’s exactly how our church family ought to be. We should be: we should be so in tune with each other that we sense when a brother or sister has a problem. And we should be so in love with one another that, when we see someone having a problem, we do something about it.
Greetings from San Antonio! I know that those of you who knew our plans for our trip to San Antonio thought that my whole family was leaving on Saturday...well, plans sometimes change.
For several weeks now I have made it a practice of talking to my parents via FaceTime at least every other day. On Sunday night, my dad looked so weak and tired.
After the call was completed (which included me telling dad that he didn’t need to wait for us to get there on Sunday), Monica looked at me and said, “You need to get down there!”
So yesterday, Tuesday, Art was kind enough to drive me to Tulsa so I could fly to San Antonio. My brother picked me up at the airport and, when we arrived at my parent’s house, my sister happened to be there as well.
So my dad was able to see all three of his kids in the same room at the same time, perhaps for the last time. He summoned strength from somewhere within his frail frame of a body, to give us, as a group, his final bit of advice: “Take care of your families.”
Each of the three of us said what we needed to say to reassure him that we will and that we will take care of mom as well. Then my brother and I led us in prayer. So many emotions...
So that was an unexpected blessing of my coming here early. I really think God had that in mind when He put the idea in Monica’s mind, and He provided the way and means for me to come ahead of the rest of my family to be here with my mom and dad.
Monica and the girls will be leaving Friday afternoon and driving as far as they can, spend the night, then come the rest of the way on Saturday. Your prayers for their safety would be appreciated.
Even in sad, difficult times, God can bring about a blessing that is, well, absolutely unexpected and amazing...and that doesn't even do His blessing justice.
I truly believe that in dad’s room Tuesday afternoon I experienced, at least in part, “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding…” (Philippians 4:7).
Most of you are aware that since we moved here almost five years ago my primary means of transportation has been a 2008 red Suzuki Grand Vitara. Most of you probably know that my family grew by one “medium” dog a couple of weeks ago.
Over this past Christmas, we took our shih-tuz Princeton to San Antonio with us. We took Monica’s car, a Kia Forte. Even with a small dog, the back seat got very crowded, very quickly.
Gabriel, Jamie’s dog, just would not fit in Monica’s car with Jamie and Rachel in the back seat. Nor would he fit in our Suzuki with the girls in the back seat.
We had known this for several months and had been searching for a bigger vehicle, but had not found one that would work for us. Well, this past week, God provided what we needed.
We traded in the Suzuki on a Dodge Grand Caravan. We all fit nicely in the van and, when we go to San Antonio to see my parents in a couple of weeks, we should be comfortable, but not cozy.
On Tuesday, Monica, Jamie and Gabriel had something to do in Bentonville. So I took Jamie and Gabriel (Rachel went too - there was Starbucks involved) to meet Monica.
Once we got our drinks, we changed cars. Rachel and I took Monica’s Kia and Monica, Jamie, and Gabriel took the van.
The Suzuki was a small SUV. The van is, well, a van. The Kia is, well, SMALL! I had never really noticed it before, but the road looks a lot different when you’re driving a small car verses a minivan.
My point is perspective. From the driver’s seat of a minivan, you have a different perspective than from the driver’s seat of a small car. Everything looks different...because of your point of view. This doesn’t mean that one is inherently better than the other, just the point of view is different.
We meet people every day who may have a different perspective than we do about life. They are not bad people, they just have a different point of view towards things going on in the world.
We need to be patient with those who have a different perspective. We don’t know what they are going through...but by being patient with them we can share a more important perspective with them: the perspective of Jesus Christ.
It has been said that the only thing that is constant is change. Well, I want to let you know of several changes that are taking place here at Eastgate.
First, you need to know that these changes are for security reasons. Second, you need to know that there will be more of these type of changes coming in the near future.
For now, though, you need to know that all of the external doors to the church building (that open out, excluding the main entrance for now) now have panic bars on them. You also should know that several of these doors now do NOT have door knobs on the outside. This means that when you exit, you will not be able to get back into the building without walking around the outside to the main entrance.
You also need to be aware that, on days when there is a fellowship meal (Agape Sunday, Family Life Groups, etc.) the door to the kitchen and the door to the fellowship room will be unlocked before Bible Class and then locked five minutes after class starts. When there is roughly 10 minutes left in class, they will be unlocked again and five minutes after worship services begin, they will be locked.
So if you arrive on Sunday morning between 9:50 and 10:20, you’ll need to use the main entrance. If you need assistance, someone will be in the foyer to help carry your food to the fellowship room.
Why are we making these changes? Again, it is for security reasons. Is there a problem with security at the church building? No, but we are seeking to be proactive rather than reactive.
We are consulting with a number of security professionals about additional changes. Please know that while the elders and deacons trust in God to protect us, they also understand that stewardship (proper use of the blessings God provides us with - including our church property and even our very lives) is very important. And protecting those blessings is equally important.
As most of you are aware, I have a tooth that needs to be extracted. That extraction is set for Friday, May 11 at the oral surgeon’s office in Rogers. Why am I waiting so long? Well, I can give you a large number of reasons and they all have pictures of dead presidents on them.
When I went to the dentist, she took an x-ray and said the tooth that was bothering me had a gold crown on it...so I knew right away that it had been there a long time (like, since my parents were paying for my dental work sort of “long time”).
She said a root canal wouldn’t help and referred me to an oral surgeon.
The oral surgeon took another x-ray and looked at the tooth for about two seconds and said, “Yep, that’s where all your problems are coming from.”
Apparently a crown on a tooth doesn’t protect it from decay. All it takes is for a little spot of decay to get under that crown and, well the little spot grows to the point that a dentist doesn't want to take any chances...she sends you to the oral surgeon.
A lot of times we think that because we are a Christian that, somehow, that is going to protect us from temptation...but even if we are tempted, certainly we won’t give in to temptation and sin!
Unfortunately that is not the case. Unfortunately, as Christians, we are the targets Satan attacks with his deadliest arsenal. Unfortunately, as Christians, we are often overconfident and are caught unaware when Satan hits his hardest.
In 1 Corinthians 10:12, Paul gives a very stern warning. He writes, “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (NIV)
So what is the point? We need to be on our guard all the time. Satan is always on the attack...especially when we are so confident in our own righteousness. that we don’t see any possible way one of his darts could hit us.
And while Paul also tells the Corinthians in the very next verse (1 Corinthians 10:13) that God is always going to provide a way of escape when we are tempted, if we are overconfident or just not paying attention, we’ll find ourselves missing the escape provided.
We are engaged in a real war with real consequences that are even more costly than an oral surgeon pulling a tooth. Your soul is at stake. Be confident in the One who will help you in temptation...not overconfident in yourself.