Living Examples

Dr. Loken suggested in class today that we journal about some of the “living examples” in our lives. We were studying Colossians and at the end of all the things Paul tells the people there – he lifts up a few guys  as examples for how to live the way he has just described. He talks about Tychicus, Onesimus, Aristarchus, Mark, Justus, and Epaphras. (and some others)

I’m gonna tell you about Mike, Joe, and Jon – these are guys who I can point to who are true disciples – they have been tested and been through so many things, but still have remained faithful to the Lord. One day, when my son grows up (He’s gotta be born here first), but one day – I will tell him about these men so he can know that living for the Lord is something which can truly be done and that it makes a difference.

“Mike”. . . . . .wow I’m not even sure where to start – “Mike” is Mike Mathews – he is now my father-in-law, but was first my boss. That’s about all he was at first, but eventually our relationship grew and he became my pastor, then my later – a friend. He and I traveled the  world together (Israel, England, and to all kinds of churches in the US) Eventually, I fell in love with his daughter (that’s a whole other story though) and married her. Anyway, Mike had been an incredible pastor for over 20 years, when the system failed him and his ministry was stripped away from him without grounds. His life was turned upside down – his esteem and identity were thrown to the ground – he ended up working at “home depot.” And yet – through it all he was faithful to God – he handled the situation with integrity and love for the very people who were falsely accusing him – he even found his way into a church within a month of being run out of one. This is a true MAN of God. If you wanna see what it means to follow Jesus – look at Mike – his life will testify of an incredible love for Jesus.

Joe – Joe Torrez was my youth minister – nothing all that special in the eyes of the world – just a regular “Joe” who served in a tiny little church doing ministry “part-time.” But Joe led me to know the God of the universe! Now he quietly serves the Lord by teaching the Bible  in his home. That small group of people who meet with him have truly become what I believe the church is supposed to be. If you wanna see what it means to follow Jesus – watch Joe – he’s doing it every day in a quiet way.

Jon – Jon Godbold is my friend – He and I served together doing music together, but more than that – when I was alone in a new town – Jon invited me into his life and  even considered me a part of his family – to this day, I can go to his house @ Christmas and see a stocking on the mantle with my name on it. Jon and his wife Laurie are amazing in the way they live out their faith. They simply love people. There are probably more people than I’m aware of, but I know of at least 3 people who they have invited to live in their home with them when they were in need. I was one of them. My wife was another – (we weren’t at their house during the same time, but she lived there too). Shelby is the third. Anyway, by simply loving people and sharing what they have, they become witnesses not just to the people  who they have taken in, but also to anyone else watching the situation. Their home is one where faith is discussed openly and often. It’s a home where people are always welcome – even when they aren’t there. It’s a place where people feel loved and for whatever reason – people are drawn to their house – they want to be there because you simply can’t be at the Godbold’s and not experience God. I pray that my home i like that one day too.

Anyway, those are some of the people I’d tell you to watch if you wanna see what a Christian looks like today.

Friends and Heroes

With_dawn_and_jane_2 I got to spend some time this past weekend with some people who are both friends and heroes. Here’s a pic of Miranda and I with Jane and Dawn.

First I’ll tell you about Jane (cause she’s first in the pic if you go left to right)

Jane Miranda and I met Jane 3 years ago through Dawn. Dawn was my summer youth assistant my first year in Lake Jackson and she introduced us to Jane. Jane is a great Christian and she has lots of ideas about how our faith should be lived out. I really enjoy talking to her. She’s funny. Anyway, this past year she was diagnosed with cancer and she’s undergoing treatments right now. That’s why she doesn’t have any hair in the pic – but she has been known to shave her head just for the fun of it too. Anyway, a couple weeks ago she sent out an e-mail describing her feelings and I thought I’d share some of what she wrote here:

I have to admit…sometimes I pray more fervently for complete healings simply for the pleasure of not having to go through chemo again. I’ve never been the most patient person, and this time, the story is the same…I want all of God’s healing and goodness without having to wait or to do any of the work. So this brings us back to this morning. God graciously sent a dear friend to pry into my heart on the very morning when I was determined to “quit” regardless of the evaluation results. I was once told that God’s grace is always on time…I don’t think I’ve believed that to be more true than now. But even after much prying and praying I still wrestled, like the “good” and faithful servant that I am (sarcasm noted). Even throughout the entire afternoon…I was sure that God would HAVE to heal me…I mean, He just HAD to…chemo is too awful, cancer is too lame, people have been praying too hard…and most importantly, I was sick of it all. Sadly, there it was, the core of my whole reasoning…God just HAD to heal me, because I was tired of dealing with cancer. Then this evening, after my stomach stopped making noises, my concentration returned to me, there I sat face to face with my feeble conclusion. The reality is God doesn’t HAVE to heal me…He doesn’t have to do a thing…but He chooses to speak healing into me. Even the breath that I am currently breathing is only possible due to His abundant grace. Without His grace and mercy, life would be empty. I can’t believe how often I forget to count the blessings that He bestows upon me…all I seem to do is demand things that I “need”. Funny isn’t it how we always seem to assume we know what we need more than He does. . . . . . I will continue to have the courage and faith to fight regardless of the results…simply because He is calling me to this place right now, and as it were, I have to work on this whole obedience and patience thing. As a recent quote I read says, “You don’t have to do it well, you just have to do it and well will come one day.” I am realizing now more than ever that perhaps the greatest testament to grace is that He gives us the will to fight each day.

I don’t know about you – but this is the kind of person I look up to – a true hero. Jane has courageously looked into her own heart and realized that God has given her an incredible gift – even with cancer, she recognizes that she doesn’t deserve anything. It’s only His grace that “breathes” into our lives. I also see an incredible faith in her thoughts and I have seen her walking out her life following after Jesus. Cancer. . . .now that’s a scary word, but Jane knows her God is bigger.

Dawn OK – now Dawn. Where do I start with Dawn? As my summer youth assistant, she was great. Dawn truly has a heart for prayer and for the youth that we worked with. It was her desire to know them and really be a part of their lives. For Dawn, ministry comes out of relationship. (That’s my philosophy too.) Anyway, Dawn just got back from Africa where she was doing ministry in Swaziland for the past 7 months. She shared some incredible things and clearly has been called into mission work. Dawn is a tiny woman with a huge faith. She led two different teams of missionaries in Swaziland and talked about how God used them to reach people in incredible ways. God used them to perform healings and even more importantly the miracle of salvation for many African people. Dawn also worked in new Orleans and even hosted a bar-b-que picnic in the neighborhood where she lived. I know that doesn’t sound like a big deal, but when you know that she lived in the neighborhood which was considered the murder capital of the United States, and when you understand that the racial tensions are extreme – to imagine a little white girl hosting such an event – well – that’s why she’s my hero. Dawn listens to the Lord and acts on what He tells her. No matter what the risk, she understand that if it’s God speaking, it’s not a risk at all. Dawn has incredible courage! I’ve attached an mp3 of Dawn telling our youth about Africa if your interested: Download AfricaMissions 07.05.06.mp3

I thank God that He has given me these precious friends and I pray that He will continue to use them in mighty ways wherever He decides to send them.