Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Day 170 - Last Night in Mobile

Here I am sitting in Lisa’s living room. I’m in the only chair left in the room and there is one coffee table; otherwise the room in empty. The movers came to pack boxes today. I counted over 120 boxes packed in the space of about seven hours. They did a good job. Too good in fact! There was this one elderly guy. Really, he had to be older than me. He was packing everything. He even packed his partner’s backpack in one of the boxes. They noticed it was missing, and were able to get it before it was left. But he also made a critical mistake. We will find out how critical tomorrow. Lisa has one of the new extra capacity front loader dishwashers. It is very nice and with two young children, she needs it. Well, these washers are very susceptible to damage when being moved. The big drum has to be stabilized with a certain block. They come with the washer, but are very hard to find anywhere else. Lisa had dutifully saved this device and had placed it in the cabinet overhead the washer. She told the movers (the elderly man) not to pack it. She knew that she would need it later.

Well, you know how this ends. It is somewhere in a box. The problem is that the box is somewhere on the truck. It would be like searching for the Ark of the Covenant in that Washington warehouse. You know the one that the government put it in after Indiana Jones had discovered it. You see, the good news is that the moving truck came early. It wasn’t supposed to be here until tomorrow morning, but it came around three in the afternoon. They immediately took inventory and then began packing. So, all the boxes are on the truck, along with over half the furniture. Somewhere on the truck, in one of the boxes, is the device to stabilize the washing machine. Obviously no one wants to unload the truck to look for it. So, tomorrow morning we are going to begin a search for another device. I pray that we can find one quickly, because the move might be delayed until we do.

So, I am here in a house with not much more furniture than the beds we will sleep on; writing my blog. There is no Internet, and no TV. Everyone is tired, but little Julia who hasn’t slept all day is still fussing. I’ll have to go to StarBucks to get this posted, so if it’s not posted until in the morning, please forgive me. I’ll see how I feel when I finish. It has been a good day. It did rain a lot, and it is supposed to rain again tomorrow. I’m glad we got so much in the truck because it wasn’t raining this afternoon. The big question is will we be able to get everything in the cars. I haven’t a clue, but I want to make sure before the truck leaves.

As I look around this house, knowing that it will probably be the last time I’m ever in it, I have mixed feelings. I see Julia in every room. I think she either painted or helped paint every room in this house. She helped Lisa choose the colors and helped her coordinate. So I feel sad knowing that she will never be able to do that again. I am doing what she normally would be doing. If she were here, she would be taking care of Ann, Julia or both. I tried today, and I think I have done a pretty good job. Yes, Julia is probably watching me proudly, saying that she taught me well.

I look forward to the drive back north tomorrow. Hopefully we will be able to get away by 2PM and back home by 9PM tomorrow night. That is being pretty optimistic, but I am, if anything, an eternal optimist. At any rate, I have to get up early Thursday morning to go pick up Adair and Meleah at the airport. I saw a truck riding down the road this afternoon. It made my day. There was in big letters on the back window, this phrase: “God is Good; All the Time. It was refreshing to see. So I close tonight with that thought. God is Good; All the time. I think I will reflect on that as I go to sleep here in Mobile tonight.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Day 169 - It's Fun Being Papa

I’m sitting in Lisa’s living room while the girls are being put to bed. It’s 9:10PM here, but I am probably not going to be up much later either. When I look back on my day, I shouldn’t be so tired, but in reality, I am worn out. I love being “Papa” and I really enjoyed being with Anna Roan and Julia Anne all day, but I don’t know how Lisa does it. I have so much respect for young mothers and dads. I have even more respect for Julia. She would have been doing all that I did today and more. She was a great Nana. She loved the kids. She loved to hold them, play with them, and make things for them. They were so much a part of her life. I was thinking of her today when I had Anna and Julia for a little over two hours while Lisa went to her base to say goodbyes and get her final orders. I was trying to do something with Anna while holding Julia. Then Julia would get fussy, and I would have to stop what I was doing with Anna. It was never ending. But tonight, just holding Julia and watching Anna it was so peaceful and loving. There is no way that I would want to miss any of this.

The movers come to start packing up at 9AM. Just looking around I would say that things don’t look ready, but how ready do they have to be. I cleared out a place in the storage closet out in the garage for us to take everything that we are taking in the car. The movers will be packing everything else. Shoot, we had better empty the trash; otherwise they might pack that too. So, tomorrow I will help move everything into the storage closet that we need to put in there and then help watch the kids and do anything else that is needed. Sounds easy? Probably not! Anyway we will sleep here tomorrow night. The mattresses should still be out.

I was chasing Anna while holding Julia tonight. Anna was laughing, Julia was laughing and I was not laughing out loud, but I was having so much fun because they were having fun. Do you think that is how Papa is with us. He loves to see us laugh and have fun. He would have to, because we are made in His image, so if we love to see our kids and grandkids having fun and laughing with us, he should love it so much more. Why is it that we see Father God as someone who is always angry and cold; someone who is always distant. For the most part, we have the wrong image of Him. I just want to rest in His arms and let Him carry me the way I was carrying Julia tonight. Sometimes she didn’t want me to carry her and would squirm and arch her back. If I wasn’t careful, I could have dropped her. But I was careful, and I just changed positions. Sometime we squirm when Father God is carrying us. We want to do something that we shouldn’t or we see something else we think we need. He will change positions so we can get more comfortable.

He enjoys holding us and cuddling with us as much as I enjoy holding and cuddling with my granddaughters. To bad we don’t let Him do it more often. Anna asked me three times today if I was going home tomorrow. I told her no. I said that I would be with her when she left Mobile for Virginia. I guess that last trip when I came for only 20 minutes is still I her mind. Papa wants us to know that He is with us, and will never leave us, no matter what we have seen in our life. Sometimes I wonder how much trauma is released to a three year old when someone they love dies. I know they don’t understand. But then, neither do I, so I guess in many ways we are even.

I’m really looking forward to having most of the family together next week. Adair and Meleah will come up Thursday and then Jennifer will come up on Saturday. We will have a big family get together on Saturday the 3rd. then Julia Anne will be dedicated at the 11AM service on Sunday at RiverStone. Sunday will be a busy day. I will run my 30th Peachtree Road Race. Julia will be dedicated and then Jennifer and I will drive down to Summer camp to take Adair. Well when you think about it, these next two weeks are going to be very busy. I am very tired tonight, but very happy. It is going to be a good time. Well, tomorrow, the adventure continues.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Day 168 - Back to Mobile

Well, I’m back in Mobile tonight. After being at church this morning and then a late lunch, I started the drive around 3PM. It only took five and a half hours and was pretty uneventful. It is really good to see Anna Roan and Julia Anne. Of course it’s good to see Lisa also. Right now Lisa is trying to get Anna to sleep, so I figured that it was a good time to start my blog. I’m not sure whether I will finish it in one sitting or have to start it again later. Right now I’ll just play it by ear. As I look around the house I really miss Julia. Tomorrow is the last day before the movers come, and there is much to be done. So I’m sitting here asking this question: WWJD? No, it’s not “What would Jesus do?”. It’s “What would Julia do?” I know that she would have a plan. She would come in, look around and then sort things out in her mind. She would assign me various tasks, and I would get to work. Well, unless she shows up in my dreams tonight and tells me, we are on our own. So I will just work with Lisa and we will do the best we can. I’m sure that we will get it all done, eventually.

I have a love/hate relationship with UHaul. Fortunately, the Coast Guard is moving Lisa so all we have to do is take the things that she needs before her furniture arrives. Anyway UHaul has a slogan “Adventure in Moving”. Moving is always an adventure, and usually not a very good one. It doesn’t matter whether you are moving yourself or having someone else move you, it is still high on the stress level. My three and a half year old granddaughter said it best tonight. She said “Moving is hard work!” And the look on her face would confirm that she really meant it. Well, the adventure starts in earnest tomorrow. We have to separate what is being packed b the movers and what we are taking. That will take a lot of the day. I hope to get a run in, but we will see how the day unfolds.

Tuesday the movers come to pack up the boxes, and then they pack everything up on Wednesday. So sometimes between Tuesday and Wednesday we have to back the cars. We will drive out Wednesday afternoon for Atlanta. Hopefully we will get to my house at a halfway decent hour on Wednesday. Thursday, Adair and Meleah fly up, and Jennifer will come up on Saturday. It will be a full house next week, but it will be fun. I can’t wait to see all the grandkids together. They don’t get enough times to play together, and it will probably be even worse now that they will be so far apart.

So, here I sit, the house is totally quiet right now, sort of like the calm before the storm. Even the dogs are lying down. I am at peace; it’s good to be here, and to be able to help. I wish that I could be in two places at once because down in Ft Lauderdale, Jennifer and Sean are getting ready to move too. At least there move is local, but as I said earlier, any move is stressful, and they have to do it themselves. I really just want to tell Julia that it’s not fair for her to be gone and leave all of this. She was always the glue that kept everyone together during moves. She is always missed, but right now all of us feel the emptiness that her absence leaves. So, as I sit here tonight I really do ask the question “What would Julia do?” She leaves some very big shoes to fill. I’ll do the best I can and ask Holy Spirit to give us all grace to get the job done. Tomorrow should be interesting.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Day 167 - Surprised!

Wow! I just got back from a surprise birthday party with most of my closest friends. They really did surprise me tonight. I really didn’t see it coming. Almost two months ago, John and Biddie asked me to reserve the 26th. We would go out that night to Nuevo Laredo, my favorite Mexican Restaurant in Atlanta and celebrate my birthday. Then when their friend from FL was coming in for the weekend, we decided to do something last night. I really thought that tonight would be overkill, but I do love Mexican food so I was fine with the idea. I do remember wondering why they wanted me to reserve the date so early, but I was so busy working that month that I completely forgot about it. We always go early down to Nuevo Laredo because the line gets very long after 6PM. So when Julie Cone asked me to come over to pray for someone at 6, I asked John and Biddie if that would work out. To my surprise they were fine with being a little late. That should have been my second clue. But this ministry opportunity really was important and I knew it was something we needed to do, so I agreed.

Tonight, I met them at their house at 5:30 and we went to the Cones. They were not staying there because of their guest. They left to go to the square. Terry and I were there with Julie and Ed to pray for healing for someone. It was a powerful time, and we could feel the presence of Holy Spirit in such a sweet and peaceful way. We were able to pray for them and minister to them prophetically. It took longer than expected and I was hoping that John and Biddie were not getting impatient. As we left, I was in a hurry saying goodbyes so that I could get going as soon as possible. I opened the back door and I saw all these people. There was Bud and Cathy, Bob and Lynn, Susanne, Mike and Ginger and of course John. Biddie, Ed and Julie.

My first thought was “Why aren’t you all inside with us praying?” Then it hit me. There were tables being put up in the back yard. It was a surprise party for me! They asked me to say something and all I could say was “You got me.” I was truly surprised. We had a great meal and a good time. I had to open cards and read them out loud, but the cards were a lot kinder than they were when I had a surprise birthday party at 50. I had a great time. I think everybody did. It was really good to spend time with some of ny friends that I haven’t really been able to spend time with since Julia’s death.

I know that Julia must have been smiling in Heaven tonight. She would have loved it. We both love small intimate gatherings where you can talk and just be yourself. Once again, I am learning that she is not there, yet I can feel her presence along with her absence. That probably doesn’t make sense. Let me try to explain. I always feel her absence. It’s like a tooth that has been pulled. It doesn’t really hurt anymore, but you always notice that it is not there. You don’t think about it, you don’t dwell on the fact that it is not there. It’s just not there and you know it. Every time you move your tongue, you can sense its absence. That probably explains my feelings right now better than anything I have said yet. I can sense Julia’s absence in everything I do, every minute of the day. There is no pain, most of the time, but that sense of loss is always there.

But sometimes, not always, I can sense her presence as well. Tonight I could almost feel and se her laughing and having fun with the group. These were her dearest friends too. Oh yes, she was present tonight. I could feel her almost as if she were right here in the flesh. The other night, when I was almost asleep, I could almost feel her lying next to me. It was very comforting and peaceful. This is good, and I do enjoy these times. But they are becoming less and less. I don’t know how long they will last. But that’s OK. It’s OK because I am learning to sense His presence more. Holy Spirit is always with me and He does comfort me. Jesus and I can talk and hang out, but it’s when Papa comes into the room. That’s when I can just be the little boy and crawl up into His lap knowing that He will protect me and watch over me. The nuances of each personality of the Godhead are so important to learn if you are going to grow closer to Him. It’s like I am learning which part of the Trinity that I need to run to when certain things happen. Their presence is so much stronger than Julia’s. I love her presence because it reminds me so much of what we had. But I love the presence of God so much more because it reminds me of what He has for me.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Day 166 - My Birthday

I have always believed that birthdays are important. Not because the mark another year gone by, but because they celebrate your life here on earth. I always wanted to make sure that we celebrated the girls’ birthdays when they were growing up. It was really hard for Jennifer because hers is in December close to Christmas. We had to make sure that we made a distinction between her birthday and Christmas. I think that we did a pretty good job doing that over the years. Lisa on the other hand was easier. She has a summer birthday and we wanted to make sure that her birthday didn’t get caught up in vacation or other summer activities.

Growing up, I didn’t have to many birthday parties. The main reason was that it seems we were out of town on vacation for a lot of my birthdays. I don’t remember many of them, however I do remember my 10th birthday. I got a pocketknife and I thought that I was grown. I was so proud of that knife. I remember when I turned 16 and got my drivers license, and I remember turning 18 and having to register for the draft. I also remember turning 21. My Dad took a friend and me out to dinner and I could legally drink.

But for the past 38 years I have shared most of my birthdays with my best friend. We would normally have a quiet dinner or maybe go out with friends. We didn’t really do anything special except for a 50th surprise birthday party. But she was always there to talk to and to hug. She always had a special card and a surprise gift. I missed that today. It was just different. Her absence was evident to me in everything I did, but I was still able to enjoy the day and spend time with good friends. I guess this is part of the new normal. I miss her, and feel the emptiness that her absence leaves, but life goes on, and I can enjoy it and feel the love of friends and relatives. I can live and move on. I am not stuck in the past, wishing for what can’t be to the point that I and enjoy the now. Remember, now is where we live. Sure there will be the future and Eternity, but NOW is where we are to live our life. So once again I have a choice. Do I live in the now and enjoy life to the fullest possible extent, or do I live wit one foot in the past and one foot in the now, unable to enjoy either.

God told the Israelites that His name was “I Am”. I AM, to me means the God of now. If He wanted us to live in the past, wouldn’t His name be “I Was” and the same for the future. Wouldn’t His name be “I Will Be”? You get the point. He wants us to live in the now. Yea, we are to look with hope to the future, but we live in the now, right here. This is where all the “training for reigning” takes place.

This time last year, Julia and I were making the decision about me going to BSSM. She was all for my going. For some reason, she didn’t think that she was supposed to go. We both figured that it was because of Lisa’s baby coming and all Julia would have to do. I know that was a part of it, but she and I both knew that wasn’t the only reason. Just as sure as we were that I was to go, we were that sure that she wasn’t going. This was odd for us, because we normally did so much together. So I started school, and I would spend hours talking to her, telling her what we were doing. She got to go to conferences kept up with me, but she didn’t go. By not going, she was able to go see the grandkids more than I did. I’m so glad that she got to see them last fall. They will all be up here next weekend for the first time since her death. I’m looking forward to seeing them all. Julia will be greatly missed, but we will love and live and continue on. That’s the way that she would want it.

There are two times each year that I like to spend a little time reflecting on my life and what is going on. The first is obvious, the beginning of each year. Instead of making resolutions, I try to seek God and look at where I am and what He wants me to do. I didn’t get to do that this year. We were at Webb AL at the conference, Julia got sick, and you know the rest. The second time of the year is around my birthday. I have spent a little time in reflection today, and I want to do more tomorrow. Although when I think about it, I am doing it each night as I write.

So, here I am, in my rocking chair, writing at the end of “my day”. It has been a good day. God is good. He has given me a wonderful family and true friends. He allowed me to spend so much time with a wonderful woman who loved me as much as I loved her. I am truly blessed. I have so much to be thankful for and to celebrate! I do choose to enjoy all that Papa has given me. Life in the Kingdom is good.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Day 165 - Life Begins Outside My Comfort Zone

Today was a good day. I finished four days of work in a row, and now I am off for the rest of the month. After having three 3AM wake ups in a row, I was able to sleep in until 6AM. That gave me some much-needed extra rest. Work went well, and I went out to eat Mexican with John and Biddie before we went to our Healing Ministry at RiverStone. It’s the last Thursday night at of the month and we have a healing room open from 7 – 8:30. We have a sign out on the street, and we mention it at church, but it is mostly advertised by word of mouth. I don’t know how many people e prayed for tonight, but I think it was well over 60 people. Once again over half of them were not from RiverStone. They either saw it on the sign in front, or heard about it from someone else. Tonight we were so busy that we didn’t stop praying for people until well after 9PM.

It really is all about His presence and His power. Without Him, we may as well all go home and watch a movie. But He was with us tonight just as He is with us every time we meet. We do everything to invite Him. We meet early for prayer and just to invite Him to come and release His anointing and His presence. Then we have live worship in an area where people can just rest in Him and people from our team just go around and quietly pray for them. After they “soak” in His presence they are led into another area where we have teams of two that pray for and declare healing over the guest. People come for many different reasons. We had people come because a family member was in trouble; others come for physical healing; others come for emotional healing. It doesn’t matter why they come if they come, we will pray.

We have what I consider four places for healing and healing ministry at RiverStone. The first is at the alter on Sunday morning. We have teams of people to pray for those who come down with specific needs. This is a place where anyone can receive prayer. All that they have to do is to walk down front. Normally our alter ministry is very busy on Sunday morning. Most of our people have finally realized that there you don’t have to be dying or have a marriage falling apart before you come for prayer. On the contrary, we all need prayer, and I believe that everyone should go down sometimes. Our second level of ministry occurs in our cell groups. If you are in a cell, this is your primary method of receiving ministry. There you can get prayer every week if you desire. The third is what we did tonight, our Night of Healing Prayer. Really it is a Healing Room and I am hoping that we will change the name to reflect that. Anyway, this is a lot of fun and very rewarding for all who are involved. Lastly we have Sozo. This is an inner healing, deliverance session that is normally between 1:30 – 2 hours long. It is in depth and deals specifically with wounds and lies. The wounds and lies keep us from being who Papa has called us to be. For this you need an appointment. We can normally do around 30 of these a month.

So, why do we do this? Why are we so committed to healing at RiverStone? Well, the main reason is because Jesus commanded us to. We are commanded to preach the Gosple of the Kingdom, heal the sick, raise the dead and cast out demons. If we are going to have an impact on our community and bring true community transformation to an area, we have to be doing this stuff. It is not optional. But really the main goal of doing it in the church is to train, equip and release our members to take it to the streets. I find myself constantly being willing to pray in church, but I find it hard to pray outside the church. That is the main reason that I went to BSSM last year. I wanted to be pushed outside the four walls of RiverStone. I was, and I realized that I have a lot to give the community because Holy Spirit lives within me. I’m going back for year two because I still fond that I need to be pushed. I haven’t quite gotten all that I need to “just do it” yet.

But there is another reason. I have to continue to be pushed to operate outside my “Comfort Zone”. What is a comfort zone? It is where you can operate comfortably. At work, you know your comfort zone. You know when you get out of it. You get worried that you can’t do things right and that you will be criticized. We have comfort zones in the spirit too. For some of us, we can worship to slow songs, but worshiping to fast songs makes us uncomfortable (out of our comfort zone). Well in order to grow, we have to press out of our comfort zones. As we continue to step out a certain distance, it becomes more comfortable as our “comfort zone” expands.

In order to continue to grow in any area, but especially in the Spirit, we have to press outside of our comfort zones. That’s where life expands and grows. So the framed plaque I saw tonight is really true. Life does begin outside our comfort zone. My comfort zone continues to expand because I continue to push outside its boundaries. I guess that is why I love and embrace change. You see, if we are to impact society, we have to have something that they want. But we have to get it firat. I believe that the way we get more of His love and His spirit is to press beyond our comfort zones into areas whwere He has to show up or we will fall flat on our face. So I invite you to join me tomorrow. Press outside you comfort zone in an area. Choose to take that step of faith. If you fail, so what? But what if you don’t?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Day 164 - Questions?

How big is your God? Really I should right “How big is my God?” Don’t you wonder sometimes why God does certain things or doesn’t do certain things? I do, more than I would like to admit. It used to worry me that I didn’t understand things. There are questions that I have that I will want to ask Him when I get to heaven. The stinking feeling that I have though is that when I get to heaven all of the questions will not matter. So if they won’t matter in heaven, why do they matter now? I have a lot of questions, so many that I can’t remember a lot of them. I guess that after time they don’t keep the same level of importance that they had originally.

So, what kind of questions do I have? Well here are some examples. Why doesn’t the Kingdom come in fullness every time I pray? What causes some people to get healed instantly while others don’t? How can I gain more anointing and power? How can I release more of His presence? I could go on and on but you get the idea. Sure we all have questions, but what defines us and how we can be used in the Kingdom is not that we have questions, but how we react even when our questions aren’t answered. You see, it’s OK to have questions but it’s not OK to demand answers. I believe that a big part of faith is being willing to have the questions, but then put the questions up on a shelf and not worry about them. As Bill Johnson says, we must be willing to put the questions on the rack in that closet of mysteries that will be opened when we do get to heaven.

I have come to think about it like this. If I have to understand everything God does or doesn’t do, then I have relegated God to be just like me. I’m glad that I don’t understand everything He does. That allows me to believe that He really is much bigger and better than I could ever imagine. I had much rather to be able to feel His tangible manifest presence than to understand everything He does. It’s His presence that brings life. Out of His life flows healing, peace, health, love all of the goodness that He wants to release upon the earth. We all need to be able to rest in His presence. What is the most important thing that I do each day? Now that is an interesting question. I really think the most important thing that I do all day is taking time to rest in His presence. That is what renews my spirit and recharges me to keep on pressing in for more.

The interesting thing is that for me, the way I get into His presence varies each day. It’s not just one thing; it’s purposefully pressing into Him whenever you have a chance. Sometimes it is when I read the word; other times it is when I lay soaking to worship music. Many mornings, especially this week, it is as I drive to work listening to worship music and drawing deep into Him. So it doesn’t matter how, it’s not a formula or a discipline. No it is just a heart felt seeking, a desperation that causes me to press through outside surroundings to seek His love; something that I can get nowhere else.

How do you know when you are there? Well for me, I just have a sense of peace and love that overcomes and overwhelms all of my circumstances and feelings. I cam be feeling stressed and uptight. The minute I enter His presence, I feel relaxed. The circumstances didn’t change, but I changed. He was resting in and upon me; and that made all the difference. One of the ways that I can enter His presence, and it might sound weird is for me to start listening to worship music and start writing this blog. When I’m writing, many times it’s just like I am talking with Holy Spirit just asking questions and writing down what He says to me. While I am writing I feel such a peace, and it lingers upon me after I’ve finished. I pray that you who read this can sense His presence as you read. I can feel His presence strong within me right now. As I rest in Him, He renews my soul.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Day 163 - The Quest Begins

That night in 1981 when I prayed to be baptized in the Holy Spirit was one of the turning points in my life. Julia and I were on the same page spiritually. For me to agree with her that she needed to quit school and stay home with the girls even if we never built the house on the land we had bought was a miracle in itself. Surly that was evidence that something had changed in my life. I was on fire and so was she. I really believe that all we had been through, even Marriage Encounter was just a precursor to this event. We, for the first time in our lives, both wanted more. We wanted more, but we had no idea what the more was, or where to go to find it. So we began our own search. We began to search out people that we didn’t know because we heard that they “knew God”. We wanted to know everything we could. We wanted to know more about the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We wanted to understand and experience this “power” that people talked about. I was really tired of living a good life and waiting for Heaven. We were both ready for action.

Where could we go, and what could we learn. Obviously, on a day-to-day basis there was nothing to learn at First Methodist. It was a good church, but when there were no special speakers, it was as one of the associates said, “business as usual” I didn’t want the “business as usual” I was seeking the unusual. I just had no idea where to find it. We began reading books. I remember reading a book by Pat Boone about speaking in tongues. Si I wanted that. Julia and I both read the book, and we were both seeking after this gift, but we had never even heard anyone speak in tongues. So the quest became: let’s go somewhere they speak in tongues. Well, we knew that the Church of God believed in tongues, so we figured if we went there, we might hear someone do it, and that might help us. So I remember the first Sunday night we visited Mt. Paran Church of God. It was a big church, and they had a huge crowd on Sunday night. We didn’t know it when we went, but Dr. Walker was probably one of the most anointed speakers I have ever heard. Well, we were ambushed that night. Ambushed by the Holy Spirit. We did hear some one speak in tongues. They were so loud you could hear them all over the building. Then Dr. Walker gave the interpretation. It was a strong word of exhortation and I was really impressed. I wondered if the only time you spoke was in a congregation. I later learned that you could speak (pray) in tongues anytime you wanted to and you didn’t need and interpretation unless it was to an audience.

But that wasn’t what ambushed us. We were ambushed by the worship. We had never been in such free worship. Worship where it seems you could be taken up into the heavenlies as you san over and over some choruses that until that night I didn’t know. For the first time in my life, I could literally feel His presence, and taste His goodness. We could never go back. We had tasted something that too few believers ever taste. It was like liquid love being poured out, and we were in a position to come and drink freely of it. That night started us on a normal routine of going to First Methodist in the morning and then to Mt Paran on Sunday evening. We begin to listen to Dr Walker’s messages and cry out for the more that he was talking about. We were caught up in the weekly outpouring of worship. We begin to bring friends with us, and pretty soon we had a number of our friends coming with us almost every Sunday night.

Yes, I did speak in tongues. I was rereading Pat Boone’s book and was laying over in Columbus OH in a Holiday inn. I was in bed, about to go to sleep, praying and asking God for more when all of a sudden, words started coming out of my mouth. Words that I didn’t know the meaning of. I felt totally stupid, and kept asking myself if this was real, or something I had contrived. At once Holy Spirit told me to receive it like I had received everything else in the Kingdom. I had to receive it by faith. So that night I chose to believe that those words that were coming out of my mouth were the gift of tongues manifest in me. I’ve been speaking in tongues ever since. I think it was the same week; Julia got the gift of tongues in a similar manner. This began a pattern in our life and marriage. One of us was always pushing the other deeper into the things of God. There were times when one of us would be farther ahead than the other, but through love and prayer and patience, we always managed to join back together in our quest for more.

This sweet time of learning more about worship and the kingdom strictly through Mt Paran would go on for over five years. It was a time of great growth and happiness for both of us. I loved Dr. Walker, and always thank God for his impact on our lives.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Day 162 - The Longest Day

I have always been fascinated with summer and with June 21st in particular. Maybe it is that scientific bent that I had growing up. You know the one that made me think that I wanted to be a engineer. Anyway, I have always been fascinated with June 21st because it is officially the longest day of the year. Sunrise today was at 6:28AM and sunset was at 8:53PM. That’s Fourteen hours and twenty-five minutes of sunlight today. Tomorrow will be a little less and then less and less until December 21st when it will be the shortest day of the year, then the process will begin again. Why is this relevant? I don’t know but I have always looked at these days as days of seasonal change. Sure, we still have the hottest days left, but the promise of cooler weather has started. We just can’t see it yet. It’s the same in December. By then we have had some cold weather bet the worst is yet to come. Yet, the promise of warmer weather has already come, we just haven’t seen it yet.

Isn’t that the way life is, especially in the Kingdom of God? We have the promise of victory. His son has come and taken the keys from the enemy. But we haven’t seen the results yet. It is there and it is coming, but we sometimes have to pass through dark days. If we just look at what is going on right now, we will think that we have failed. We might think we will never see His glory. Yet, the lightning is just over the hill, the sunrise is just behind the cloud. We, no I, am so often caught up by present circumstances that I forget His promises. Sometimes I have to realize that what I don’t see is just as important as what I do see.
I woke up this morning with a different sort of feeling. At first I thought I was trying to be overcome with “the great sadness” again. But I realized that wasn’t it, and as I rebuked it the feeling changed. No, it was a feeling of anger. It wasn’t very strong, and wasn’t aimed at anyone or anything. It was just anger over what I had lost. Anger over what we had all been robbed of, Julia’s presence here on earth. I was thinking of all the things that I really needed her for right now. I was thinking of Jennifer and Lisa and how much they needed her. I thought of her grandchildren, especially Anna Roan and Julia Anne who would never get to know her like they should. I was just angry. Like I said, it wasn’t at God, or any person. I really think I was angry at the enemy. He had gotten in a sneak attack and we lost Julia. Not forever, but her presence right now. I remember John Wimber talking about the Kingdom of God and this present evil age. We are at war. We have won the ultimate victory through Jesus Christ, but we have to fight all the battles to mop up and clean up the earth. He related it to WWII and D-Day. After D-Day, the Allies knew they had won the ultimate victory. Hitler and the Nazis knew that they had lost. But more men were killed after D-Day than in the whole war leading up to it.

We as believers have to face the fact that we are at war. We are commissioned to ring the Kingdom of God down to this earth. Do you think that Satan and his legions are going to stand around and not fight back? We are still learning. So there are casualties. Things that have been sit in motion since the fall of Adam still prevail in this world. Sickness and disease, sin and perversion, death and destruction: all of these and more we have to fight in order to see His Kingdom come. So I have made a choice today. You know it’s always about choices. I have chosen to focus that feeling of anger on my search for Divine Justice for Julia’s passing. I have chosen to join with Papa and continue to press into declaring and decreeing Divine Justice for her untimely passing.

I guess I woke up just thinking how young and full of life she was. All the plans, all the unfilled dreams we had, changed almost instantly. But as I breathe in, I can feel His strength filling me and giving me hope and glory. Even in this anger, I am so in love with Him and I know that He loves me and all those I love. So all I can do is give Him the anger, and ask Him to give me His peace as we go after Divine Justice together.

So, just as I have the promise of fall on the longest day of the year, I also have the promise of His Kingdom come on earth. So Papa, let your Kingdom come as we lift you higher. This is my desire, and I know it’s Julia’s desire.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Day 161 - Father's Day With My Dad

It was a good day. I went down to Bethel Atlanta and saw friend and worshiped wit them before I went to see dad in Peachtree City. Both of my sisters were there for lunch then my nephew, his wife and daughter came over. It was a good family time of sharing old stories about times past. We spent a lot of time laughing and taking pictures. It was way too hot to be outside. So we all sat around the dining room table for most of the day. We had sandwiches and a coconut cake for desert. It wasn’t Julia’s coconut cake, but dad seemed to enjoy it. I was happy to see my sisters and Dad and Allene. It was a fun time but I kept thinking about Father’s Day last year.

Last year, we had two of our granddaughters, Adair and Meleah, with us, and we all went down to spend the day with Dad. My sisters were there along with my niece and her husband and then my nephews came. We spent pretty much all day outside. It was hot, but not like today and everybody was more active, more alive. That sounds bad, because today everybody was alive and active. I guess I just remember Julia being there and the two of us watching the granddaughter’s interaction with their great grandfather. Not many people get to do that. I have a picture of all of us together, so full of life with so many dreams and so much to do. For me today there was such a missing piece and it was hard to overcome the constant thought of what was missing.

You know today’s like this I have two choices. I can choose to dwell on my loss of Julia and wallow in self-pity. Or I can choose to press into life and enjoy those around me, even as I recognize the deep loss that I feel. There is only one way to live and to thrive and that is to choose the latter. You can’t go back, no matter how much you would like to. We must move forward. So, I have to choose to stay in His presence no matter where I am or what memories flood my mind. As I think back, I can just remember how much Julia loved mom and day. She really thought of them as her parents too. Especially after her dad died so young and her mother died. Mom and dad were the only parents we had. Then when mom died, and dad remarried, Allene took that spot. So, I know that everyone missed her today.

I did miss seeing my girls, but I will see them all in two weeks. All my granddaughters are growing so fast. Julia Anne is about to start crawling. All the rest are just changing so fast. It makes me wonder how Papa sees us. Does he notice when we change? I think so. Even though He knows what we will become, I can almost here Him shouting out: “Way to go Tom, I know that you could do that” or giving us encouraging words when we fall a little short. I can almost hear him now talking to Jennifer and Lisa saying: “I’m so proud of you, you have so much going on and have gone through so much this year! Keep on pressing toward me, I will help you, you will get through all this move. I will help you organize and prioritize. You can do it.”

So, here we are with another Monday about to begin. I have to get up at 3AM for the next three days. As I go to bed tonight, I am grateful that I can sleep well knowing that He loves my family and me. I can sleep well knowing that I don’t have to “fix” anything, that in reality I can’t “fix” anything. I can rest in His goodness, thankful for all my family and the time I had to spend with them today. I can rest in Him thankful for the wonderful memories I have with Julia, and the wonderful memories yet to be made with the rest of the family. I can rest in the knowledge that my Father God is the “Best Papa” in the whole world. Happy Father’s Day Papa!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Day 160 - A Company of Fathers

I had a thought the other day. It was about a week ago and I was running and thinking/praying about my future and destiny with God. The phrase “A Company of Fathers” came to me and it has been with me ever since. I’ve tried to put it down, but it just keeps coming back to me. I was asking Holy Spirit what it meant. I got several different things. But right now I have no clarity. But I will write about what I was thinking because I have found that writing sometimes gives me clarity of thought. So on one level, I know that we are living in the “fatherless” generation. A lot, if not most young people today have been in a single parent home. Normally that is the mother raising them. Even if the father is around, too often He is so involved with work that he tends to be an absentee father.

Our earthly father is the best representative that we have to our heavenly father. The best earthly father can in no way represent how much our Heavenly Father, Papa, loves us and cares for us. I think that I was a good dad, but I know that I couldn’t be the dad that Father God can be. My dad was a great dad and I love him very much, but he couldn’t be the dad that Papa is. So no matter how good our dads were or are, there are wounds and lies that we have in our spirit that keep us from really connecting from Father God. Without a good connection to Papa, we will never realize our true identity and who we have been called to be.
What if there was a company of men who traveled around with other ministries that ministered to youth? Places like youth camps or to rehab centers or with ministries like Jesus Culture. What if all these men did was release the Father’s heart and show Papa’s love and forgiveness with prayer and consoling? These are just thoughts. I had almost shelved these thoughts when I heard that there was a book written on some of the founding fathers of the US called “A company of Fathers”. The book was about wisdom that was necessary but had been lost.

I look at good men around me; men with wisdom, who have fought the fight and overcome. I see men that I know from RiverStone that have so much to give. I see men from Bethel Atlanta and from BSSM. I know that individually they are making a difference. I guess the question that I have is this. Is there a need to form “A company of Fathers” that would intentionally travel around and minister? I don’t know, but I am praying about this and seeking His wisdom and direction.

As I look at Father’s Day tomorrow. I know how fortunate I am to have such a good father. Was he perfect? No, but none of us are. What I do know is that he did the best he could, and he loved his kids. As a dad, that is all any of us can do. I know that I wish that I knew what I know now when I was raising the girls. As dads we can all look back and see things we could have done better. But it is not time to look back, it’s time to live for the future in the present. Whether you are in a certain ministry or not, God is calling for a company of fathers to rise up and father this next generation. We are to lead by example. Iif we press into everything God has for us, we will pave the way for this generation to press into things that we have never seen.

So, whether I start a ministry or not, tonight I am calling for this company of fathers to rise. Start with your own kids, but don’t stop there. Be the example of Father God to everyone you meet. He is with you, and He will give you the grace and release His love through. Release the passion for Him that is within you and let others see and feel it. It is infecting and will draw others to Him. Can you see it: an army of Fathers, moving through the streets of our cities and the world. Now that will be a sight to behold. Happy Fathers Day

Friday, June 18, 2010

Day 159 - So, What's the Problem?

I have a love/hate relationship wit this quote by Bill Johnson: “Anytime I have a problem that becomes larger in my consciousness than the awareness of God’s Presence in my life, I have to repent to regain His perspective.” I love it because it is so true, and it forces me to reevaluate my thinking and what lie I might be believing. I hate it because it is true and it won’t let me stay and dwell in my “comfort” of self-pity. No, seriously I do love this quote because it makes me think about how big God is and how much He loves me. It makes me focus on His goodness an the depths of his presence and love.

Tonight I really, really miss Julia. I miss how much she loved me and the girls and her Grandchildren. I miss how she was always there to help the girls in their time of need. Both of my girls are moving in July. Jennifer is making a local move across town and Lisa is moving from Mobile to Norfolk. Both families have stress on them, and Julia’s presence would do so much to help east this stress. She was a phenomenal packer and unpacker. Plus her help with the children was so needed. I know that both of the girls are missing her especially right now. So am I. Today is probably the most I have thought about her and missed her presence in a while. The overcoming pain is not there, but there is a deep level of sadness and sorrow that is trying to overwhelm me tonight. It’s probably because I can’t be there to do all the things Julia could and I wouldn’t be able to do them anyway. It’s amazing how much your kid’s problems become your problems and you ache and hurt so much for them. I didn’t know this would be part of the deal when we had them. I figured once they grew up, I wouldn’t feel this way. Shoot, it’s worse now than when they were kids. When they were kids, dad could fix almost everything. I shouldn’t have, but I did. I wish that I had seen all the teaching that I have seen now. Anyway, I can’t fix things anymore, all I can do is worry or pray. I have to choose not to worry, but instead to press into His presence and pray.

That is why that quote is so important to me tonight. I have allowed some of my girls problems to become bigger in my consciousness than my awareness of God’s presence in my Life. So before I started writing tonight I had to repent. Now repent really means to change the way you think. So I had to change the way I think about the problems. I have to remember who God is and how big He is. I have to remember all of His goodness and how He loves for me to pray so He can do good things. So I have to call for His presence and ask Him to intervene with His Kingdom in their life. I have to choose to trust in His goodness and that all things will work for good for those who love Him. I have to trust in His ability, and not look at my inability.

So I had to ask Holy Spirit what is the lie I am believing? He showed me the lie is that it was up to me to fix their problem and if I couldn’t come up with a solution they would be hurt. Then I asked Him, Holy Spirit what is the truth? He said the truth is Papa loves my girls more than I do, and He will watch over for them even better than Julia could. As I get His answer, I am crying, not because of sadness, but because of joy and the overwhelming sense of His presence. He is so good, and He loves me so much, but He loves my girls just as much, and they will be OK. They are His daughters even more than they are my daughters. Julia is with Him, and I know that she is not worried.

I feel right now like a weight has lifted off my shoulders. Did any on the circumstances change? No, the problems and stresses are all still there. So, what did change? My perspective changed, and that makes all the difference. Now the problems are not bigger than ny awareness of God’s presence in my life. This makes all the difference in the world. This and the core value that God is Good, and He does good things. I really feel sorry for those believers who can’t or wont grasp this truth. Core values are things that you believe in so strongly that you would be willing to die for. This is one of my main core values. It is a rock that helps me stand. If I couldn’t believe in God’s goodness, I couldn’t be standing and declaring the solutions over my girls right now. The question always comes down to how we choose to live. I choose to live on the offensive, declaring what should be until I see it. Otherwise I might never see it. I am so glad that I wrote this blog tonight because I end it with so much more hope and so much more of His Presence than when I started. That is a good thing

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Day 158 - You Are My Passion

I’m sitting here in my rocking chair, but I am listening to a new song tonight. Actually I am listening to three new songs by Jesus Culture. The first is “You are my Passion” sung by Kim Walker Smith. The words are unbelievable. It just sends my heart flying. The words are so strong that they are a message; in fact you could say that they are the message I have been trying to send for the past 30 years. Of course the music and Kim singing it makes it even more powerful. I can’t wait until we do it at RiverStone. It ends with “You are my hearts desire, I live to know you more. I guess that is why I am alive tonight. I am in the process of evaluating what I am doing. This is not an empirical process where I am writing everything down and looking at the pros and cons. No it is really a softer process of just asking Holy Spirit to begin to show me. I have given Holy Spirit permission to trim back, prune, weed, however you want to think of it. I want to be focused like a laser on the task that Papa is calling me to do. There might be more than one, and there probably will, but I don’t want to keep doing something because I have done it in the past.

This afternoon, I did some pruning of my knockout roses. They had been beautiful in season, but in order for them to put out more flowers, they needed to be pruned back radically. If I was the plant and that was happening to me, I would be very upset. I would probably be doing self-analysis wondering what I had done wrong. It would be hard to accept the fact that I had done nothing wrong. Instead I had done everything right. Of course it wouldn’t seem fair, but life is not fair. Sometimes, no I would say most times, we have to be pruned back to reach the next level.

“Tom and Julia” or “Julia and Tom” produced a lot of fruit over the years, but I must be pruned to go to the next level. Pruning is not fun. Today I cut off some of the strongest limbs from that rose bush. It was where the most productive fruit had been produced. But this is the time, this next year. I sense that a lot of reshaping in my life will take place. Don’t read anything into this; I have no idea about any details. It’s just a sense I have in the spirit. The only thing I know is that I feel Papa has told me that second year at BSSM will help me gain the focus I need to press into the next level He is calling me into. I belong to Jesus, and I am free to be blown by the wind of the Spirit. I want to see His Glory and my time no matter how many years I have is shorter than it was last year. None of us has time to waste. That’s our problem; we all think we have all the time in the world. Well I wouldn’t be writing this blog if that were true, would I. The last song is show me your Glory. I really want His Glory to manifest all around. That won’t happen if I stick just to what I have done. No, living is about adventure, it is about risk and it is about change. And this I do know: I am going to live! I will live my life to the fullest. That means I want to live my life totally for Him, to release His glory upon the earth.

That is my heart, but how does that walk out. Well today it was only in interacting with my students. They were really the only people that I talked to. Then I cam home, and never left the house. It’s hard to minister to others when you’re totally alone. But tomorrow I won’t be totally alone, so I will have to ask for some divine appointments and be willing to risk talking to them and being led by Holy Spirit to do whatever He says. So it will be an early getup tomorrow as well. 3AM comes early, that is why this blog is so early tonight. I like the early periods, I think. Well I had better like them because I have 12 of them next month. Should be interesting. So tonight I stop writing while listening for the second time to “ You are my passion”. One of the phrases is “My strength in life is I am Yours”. That is so true of me. That is my main strength, that I am his. “My soul delights because I am Yours.” I downloaded the songs from Itunes this afternoon. Well worth the 2.49 I had to pay.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Day 157 - Rain Showers

We just got a rain shower. I think we got about a half inch of rain. Isn’t it amazing how good rain feels when it is so hot and dry? The rain changed the smell outside. It temporarily cooled everything off, and the main thing is it gave everything water. Without water, everything eventually dies. I know that yesterday I was out watering the plants in the back yard because they were looking stressed. Tonight after the rain I looked out back. Everything looked clean and happy, if plants can look happy. Anyway, the rain did wonders. I could water all day and not have the impact that a good 15-minute shower can have on the plants and grass. I remember the drought we were in for the past few years. Julia and I bought two rain barrels just to catch the rain that ran off the roof of the house to water the plants. I still have them and I used them yesterday to get water to take in front to water those plants.

Summer in Georgia can be so fickle. It can be so hot and dry for days. Then you see a thunderstorm pop up and it can rain for hours. If you are lucky, you will be under that storm and get the rain. If you are unlucky, you can watch it rain literally across the street while your yard never gets a drop. We get used to it, and pray for showers to pop up in our area. We at least want our share, don’t we? Well, yesterday I watched it rain everywhere I was except for my house. So today I was glad to see it rain a little here. Jesus told us that out of our innermost being would flow rivers of living waters. I guess that makes us sort of like a cloud. So we are clouds that float around raining, I know it seems foolish, but bear with me for a moment.

Follow my metaphor. If the world is a dry and thirsty land, what does it need? Water, it needs water just like we do in the summer. People all around you are looking for water to quench their thirst. They are trying everything, alcohol, drugs, sex, and materialism. These are all like little sprinklers. They give momentary relief, but the pain and thirst is still there. What they need is a good heavy rain. But they don’t have anyway to get under a cloud. Sure they could go to church, but to most of them, church is irrelevant. What they need is an experience with the King, but they don’t know Him, or how to get to Him. So what do they do? Where do they go? What hope do they have?

Really, we are their hope. We are the representatives of the King. As we move through life, we are to reflect the King in everything we do. It’s not about knocking on doors or about some program. It’s about living a Kingdom life. A life where love shines through in everything you do. A life where “Can I pray for you?” just rolls off your tongue because you know if you pray things will change. They might not always get instantly healed, but things will change. They will change because you cam into the room as a cloud, and rained down the living waters of life. You gave them hope where there was no hope. You gave them a smile when they needed a smile. When you cam in the atmosphere changed because you are the cloud with water to heal a dry and thirsty land and you do what you do best. You let the rains come.

This is all life in the Kingdom is about. I don’t know why I have such a hard time sometimes doing it. As I write about it, I want to do it more. It is just doing it. It shouldn’t be hard, no It should be fun. So tomorrow, wherever I go, I want to rain. I want to let Jesus just leak out. I don’t have to be religious. I hope I’m not, but I do want to be “Christ like”. That is going to be my prayer. I want to be the cloud that rained down on the dry and thirsty land, wherever that is. It doesn’t sound hard. I’m sure that it will be fun.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Day 156 - Mark Rutland Comes to Town

After Julia and I went to the Marriage Encounter Weekend my life was never the same. I had experienced for the first time, although I didn’t know it then, the freedom to hear God and act on what He said, not what I felt I had to do, or what other people said that I had to do. The change was dramatic and startling. From never wanting to go to church except to the morning service, I was there all the time. I was involved in committees on Evangelism. I was in an outreach called EE, where every week we went and knocked on doors trying to lead people to Christ. I was on the nominations committee that helped choose the pastors of the church. I had a lot of zeal and even more passion.

We also became presenting couples for Marriage Encounter. That entailed laboriously writing talks; talks that spilled out “guts”. These talks were about the innermost feelings in areas of our marriage. After we had them written, then we had to read them to sometimes 50 or more couples. It was very hard, but very rewarding because we could see how God used the talks to help reach others. This was an area where we both were being used as a team, and it was where our concept of team ministry was formed. After this it wasn’t just “Tom or just “Julia”. It was “Tom and Julia” or “Julia and Tom”. Sure we were involved in separate ministries sometimes, but we always supported each other and we were always involved together in each other’s ministry. For example: years later when I was ordained as a pastor at NE Metro Vineyard. I was the one who was ordained, but we “Tom and Julia” were know as the associate pastors. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Teams are much more effective. That doesn’t mean both have to be in the spotlight, but they both have to be involved. We were probably involved in Marriage Encounter for about two years. It got harder to give the talks, because we had changed so much it was like reading about someone else. Besides, something else happened. Something that would be like an earthquake, shaking everything in our lives. Mark Rutland came to First Methodist, and a Baptist boy and girl encountered the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

I was not prepared for what was about to happen. My life was under control. I was enjoying flying. Our marriage was better than it ever had been. We had a lot of friends and were really enjoying church. The girls were at a real fun age. Life was good. We had bought some acreage over off Stilesboro Rd near Kennesaw Mountain Park and we were about to build a house. It was during Jimmy Carter’s presidency. The economy was much worse than it is now. Interest rates were sky high. The only way that we could afford to build was for Julia to go back to work. We had a plan. She applied and was accepted to teach in Cobb County. This was perfect; we were working on plans and were about to apply for a construction loan within the month. Things were on track. It was the fall of 81 and we had a “Revival” scheduled. Now the concept of Revival I had then was much different than the concept I have now. Anyway we had a series of meetings. I think they started on Wed, but I don’t remember. I do know that a couple of nights were during the week. Our pastor had set up these lunch meetings where the speaker would speak while we ate a light lunch. They were called “Lunch Lifts”, and they were a pretty big hit with the community. Anyway, I wasn’t going to be at the first nightly meeting because I was flying. I would be back in time for the second night, and would be there for the weekend. We were having some Methodist Evangelist named Mark Rutland. I had never heard him speak, but he had a good reputation and I was looking forward to hearing him. Julia was teaching, I think school had been in session for almost a month, but she was going to the night meetings. I was flying late so I didn’t get to talk to her after the service, and I knew she would be at work and I didn’t talk to her until I got home late the next afternoon.

As I came in, I asked her how the night was. She said it was great, beyond anything that she had ever expected. Then she said that she had been “baptized in the Holy Spirit”. My immediate remark was “What’s that?” Being raised Baptist, I had never heard of that term before. She said it was like nothing that she had ever experienced; it was like God poring liquid love over her. She had surrendered every area of her life to Him, and asks for Him to fill her with the Holy Spirit. I could have debated her and told her that she already had the Holy Spirit when she was saved, but something stopped me. The look of peace and love in her face was different than I had ever seen in her. I knew that something had happened, and I just wanted to know more. Then I ask her how school was. I was shocked when she told me that she didn’t go. Why, I asked. She said that she felt like she was supposed to go to the lunch lift. Well I was upset, I didn’t want her to lose her job, all our plans for building depended on it. Then she dropped the bomb: “I think that God wants me to quit and stay home with the girls”. Well, you can imagine what was going through my head. “God didn’t tell me any of this. What about our plans? Where would we live, we were going to have to move out of our present house in about 6 months. My mind was swirling, but she looked so calm and so peaceful. I just dropped the conversation and began to have my own conversation with God.

So here we go into church that night. I really want to know more about this new ‘baptism”. I can see a definite change in Julia, and if it changed her that much in such a short time, maybe it’s real. The pressure of her quitting work or not quitting is swirling around me. All of the questions about building and all of MY plans are in question. I don’t remember the sermon Mark preached. I don’t even remember the alter call. All that I can remember about that night so long ago is me being down on my knees at the alter crying. I remember asking God for all that He had, and to keep me always seeking more of Him. Mark Rutland came and prayed with me. There was no hype. I didn’t speak in tongues right then or have any other Spiritual Gifts manifest. I prayed a simple prayer of complete surrender. Every area surrendered to His will. Mark told me that I needed to receive this Baptism of the Holy Spirit by faith, just as I had received salvation. He even had me write it down in my Bible, the day and time so that when the enemy told me that I hadn’t done anything, I could come back and say yes I did and read the date and time and the words “Received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit”. I came back to this mark in time on many occasions. After the prayer, I didn’t really feel any different, but I knew that I was. I knew that I was different initially because I no longer cared about MY plans. The building of the house was no longer a priority. That night Julia and I talked. She resigned the next day. We never looked back. It took us almost three more years to build, and we both loved every minute of life in between. So I was changed, very changed. This was the real turning point in my walk with God. Things have never been the same since.

I’m not going to get in to a theological debate on the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Some of my Baptist friends would debate whether it exists. Some of my Pentecostal friends would debate whether I had received it that night because I didn’t speak in tongues at the time. Personally I believe that you can speak in tongues at that time, although not all do. My feeling is that you should begin to manifest at least on the gifts of the Spirit soon after you pray. For me, a strong peace settled over me. I had more of a desire for Him and all that He was doing, and I desired every gift that He had to give. Did I speak in tongues that night? No. Do I speak in tongues now? Yes. It took about a month before it manifest., and I had to want it so badly that I could put the foolish feeling behind me. So, Mark Rutland played a very significant role in our lives. Mark Rutland, a Methodist Evangelist, then missionary, then pastor of Mt Paran Church of God and now President of Oral Roberts University. Amazing how Papa works, isn’t it?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Day 155 - Why are We Here?

Here I am sitting in my rocking chair listening to “Love Came Down.” Wouldn’t it be great if life were free of storms? What if we did live with no problems? What if there were no sickness, or any other heartache? What if there were no deaths? It sounds like Heaven, but it was supposed to be Eden. That’s how it was supposed to be. Then Adam and Eve made the wrong choice. We all know how it has been since. So Jesus paid the price for all. What’s all? Is it just salvation? I don’t think so. Salvation is wonderful and it is the first step. So what more did Jesus die for? Did he die for our healing and deliverance? Yes, I think He did, but it was for more. So what’s the more? I believe that he died to allow us, His followers to bring the Kingdom of God down on earth. One of my favorite books besides the bible is Bill Johnson’s “When Heaven Invades Earth.” This, in my opinion is what Jesus lived and died for. He died so that we, his followers, could bring Heaven down in our areas of influence. No, I’m not really crazy, read the New Testament.

In John, Jesus said that it was better that He go away so the Holy Spirit would come. I don’t mean to preach tonight, I really don’t. It’s just that is so important for us to realize why we are here. Jesus operated as a man. Of course He was with out sin. So there was no barrier separating Him from His Father. John baptized him in the Jordon River, and the Holy Spirit came upon Him. So He was full of the Holy Spirit. Well, we are men or women. If we have accepted Jesus as our Savior, then our sins are forgiven and are under the blood of Jesus. If that is the case, then there are no sins to separate us from the Father. So what is the only difference? He was filled with the Holy Spirit. Everything He did, He did as a man full of the Holy Spirit. So the only difference is how much of the Holy Spirit we have compared to Jesus. So the real question is how much of the Holy Spirit do I want? In Matthew and Luke Father God said He would fill us with the Holy Spirit. I want as much as Jesus had. Am I willing to surrender my life to the extent that He did, so I can be filled to that measure with the Holy Spirit. This is what I what, and this is what I am crying out for.

I was talking to a friend the other day. We were talking about being filled with the Holy Spirit. At that time I said it was a matter of trust and surrender. The more you could trust Papa, the more of your stuff you could surrender and the more you would be filled. I told him that was an on going process for me. I could trust at a certain level and then surrender at that level and be filled at that level. But there is always more. More trust, more surrender and more to be filled. In order to release the Kingdom of God in my sphere of influence, I have to trust Him and be filled, and then release his presence into my world. That is why I am here. That is why we are all here. Alone, I probably won’t make much of an impact. But think of what 100 of others like me in a small area could do. Think of what a church of 1000 could do in their community. Wow, think of what 20 churches of 1000 could do. Can you see the impact we could have in or community, in our city, in our state, in the world? I have to share this vision hoping that someone reading this will catch it. The unity of the Spirit is not about doctrine or politics. No, it’s about releasing His presence into the earth. It’s about our calling. My prayer is that His passion for the Kingdom would be stirred up in each of us and that we could not stop until we saw His Kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven.

Day 154 - A Sunday Afternoon Drive

Well, it’s 9:30 PM and I am listening to “Love Came Down” while I write. That is the only normal thing about this [posting. I will probably not get this posted until after 2AM on Monday morning. You see, I am sitting in the “shotgun” seat of my Envoy writing this while John is driving. We are a little over 100 miles south of Montgomery AL on I65. We have been on a little Sunday afternoon drive from Marietta to the gulf coast, to Mobile and Lisa’s. Instead of staying, we decided to come back tonight. So it is just a little drive of not quite 800 miles. It has really been an easy drive considering everything. We left afer church, got a Starbucks and then stopped in Montgomery for lunch. Then we drove to Perdido Key which is the most western beach in the FL panhandle. After we went to the beach, we drove to Lisa’s in Mobile to unload a bed and pick up their lawnmower. We did stop and play with Anna and Julia. They are both so cute. It’s amazing how much they have grown since the last time I saw them. We got a a little supper to go and another starbucks and headed north. John is driving now, and I wll take over later. I figured that if I was going to get any writing done, I had better do it now. So that is the trips itinerary, now I want to fill in some of the days details.

Church at “The Stone” this morning was awesome. We went to the 9AM service and with Tom and Daniel both in India Mark was preaching and Mellisa Drummond led worship. It was her first time leading for the complete service, and she did great. The presence of the Lord was so strong and so sweet that I really didn’t want to stop. Mark’s sermon was on Spiritual Warfare and was from Revelations 12, 13 and 14. During worship I could almost feel Julia’s presence as we pressed in to Papa’s presence. I don’t know if it makes sense, I’m not sure it does to me, but it seems the closer that I am to God, the closer I am to Julia. I don’t have to do anything, it’s just like as I press into Him, she seems to come too. I was thinking about this because Hernan sent me a text as we were driving down to Montgomery. He said that He had just finished worship at his church and the presence of God was so strong but he could almost feel, even smell Julia’s perfume as he worshiped. I told him I wasn’t surprised since I knew how much she loved to worship.

John and I got out and went on the beach at Perdido and walked out to the gulf. We didn’t see any oil. There were very few people on the beach and a few were swimming. We know it’s still out there close, because according to the news today, a little farther west there was a lot of oil in Orange Beach. Anyway we were crying out to God and declaring favor and prosperity over the entire gulf area. We were asking for supernatural intervention for the spill and cleanup. I know that many others are doing the same thing, but we couldn’t come that close not to stop and walk out to speak over the elements. It is such a tragedy, and unless God intervenes it will be terrible for all the people down there, and for the environment. We definitely need to continue to pray over the situation. But God is good, and I know that when we pray He hears us and wants to answer our prayers.
Going down to Mobile today and seeing Anna and Julia even for such a short time just showed me how much I miss seeing all of them. Adair and Meleah went to the orthodontist this weekend. It looks like Adair will have braces soon. It seems like only yesterday when Julia and I were having braces put on Jennifer and then Lisa. Time goes by so fast, yet there is still so much to do. Anyway they will all be up in Atlanta at the end of the month. We will have a big family get together and that will be fun. I am blessed to be able to get on an airplane if there is an empty seat. Otherwise having them in Ft Lauderdale and Norfolk would be really hard,

I don’t have to work until Thursday. I know that I want to sleep in tomorrow morning, but I really want to have a good time to soak. It is so funny that I can be alone and still not feel that I have quality time with Papa, Jesus and Holy Spirit. I feel that they want me to just be still and spend some time with them. Hopefully either tomorrow or Tuesday I will be able to do that. Shoot, maybe I can do it on both days. Well John has driven over 50 miles since I started writing and the album is on the last song so I guess that this will be it for tonight. The “Sunday Afternoon Drive” will continue for a few more hours. It will be my turn to drive soon.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Day 153 - Busy Weekend; Great Peace

I had a busy weekend with a nice quiet night at home. Las night we had 8 people from New Heritage church in Moultrie for sozos. It was a good night, and I think the sozos went well. You never really know when you are doing leadership from another church. Sometimes the people have been forced to have a sozo and that usually doesn’t work so well. But these went well. They and a few other people from Moultrie stayed for our Saturday Morning of Healing prayer. They wanted to see our model again, and it was a good morning. We prayed for them and another 15 people. So, last night I got home, wrote my blog and watched a little TV and went to bed. This morning we had Healing prayer, and then we meet for lunch with people from Bethel Redding, Bethel Atlanta, Daystar and RiverStone to talk about Sozo and doing things together on a Regional basis. It was a good lunch and time of sharing ideas and getting to know each other better. After going to Starbucks for a meeting after the meeting, the day was pretty much gone. Then John and Biddie came over and John and I loaded up the car for our trip to Mobile tomorrow. We are taking some stuff down to Lisa and bringing some things back on Monday. It will be a quick trip and I’m glad that John will be going down with me.

At lunch I had one of the ladies that didn’t know me asked me if my wife worked. She saw my wedding ring and I guess she was curious where Julia was. As I explained, I could she that she was pained much more than I was. I didn’t mind explaining, I just hated that she felt so bad. I find myself having to comfort those who are just finding out, or have seen Julia and I earlier, but haven’t seen me since her death. It seems weird. They are so upset, and I am at peace. There is always that awkward silence when they are trying to figure out what top say to me. Of course there is still the question ”Are you all right?” Like I’m lying when I say that I am. Then people say you are so brave. I really want to tell them that bravery has nothing to do with it; it is God’s grace. I really want to tell them a lot of things that I don’t say. I’ve learned jut to smile and say “Thank You”. Anyway, it wasn’t her fault, and I could see how bad she felt as I told her what happened.

After we had finished loading the car and everyone had left, I grilled some corn on the cob and a small steak for dinner. It was great. I watched a movie. The X men: Wolverine, the origins. No, I know that it probably will never win any academy awards and probably has no redeeming value, but I liked it, and it kept me interested. I guess that is one of the few rewards of living by yourself. I can watch any movie I want and listen to it as loud as I want. It’s really not a very good trade off when you think about it. I did talk with my girls. I usually talk to them once a day, and It is good to have the connection. They are both getting ready to move, and I can tell that they are both stressed to some degree. I wish that I could do something to help. Julia would have been a big help for both of them. Her absence is leaving a gaping hole in their lives right now, and I can’t really do anything to fill it. I pray that in the midst of all they are doing, they will be able to press into Papa God’s presence. That is where true peace lies, and it is where they will be able to rest in the midst of chaos.

I filled out my application for second year ministry school the other day. I really can’t wait. In some ways I feel like a college kid going into his senior year. I know that this next year is crucial, but I have no idea what will come after it. I have some glimpses, but nothing is set in stone. It’s like Papa is giving me so many options. He is saying “Tom, what is the desire of your heart? What is your dream? You can have it, but you have to name it.” Right now, I can’t name it. It is too nebulous. It has to be refined. This next year will refine it. I know that by this time next year, an new course and new direction will be set. The question is this, “How far off will the new course be from the one that I have been on until now?” That is the question that I can’t answer. I can see a course very close, and I can see a course very different. I will have to seek His presence and His guidance to fine-tune my heart in this next year. But one thing I do know. I will have an answer, because He wants me to fulfill the destiny He has for me.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Day 152 - Weeding and Planting

How is your garden? My garden has weeds, or should I say that my back yard does. It seems like only yesterday that I had weeded and got rid of them all. Well guess what, “There Back!” Wow, I didn’t realize how much Julia did in the yard. Like I said, I cut the grass and edged, that was it. Well like a lot of other things, times have changed. I was looking at the front yard this week as I drove in from work. I noticed that the pansies were pretty wilted. No surprise with all the heat we have had, after all, they are a “winter” plant. Also in the back on the patio were two big planters that should be in front of the front steps. I knew it was time to do something. I kept hearing Julia tell me it was time to plant. Then as I was walking in the back, it was if she was pointing out all of the weeds that had sprang up. I know that they wouldn’t be there if she were still here. That’s her job, and it is just not fair that I have to do it now. But of course we all know that life isn’t fair. Anyway I called Biddie and she said that she would help pick out some good plants for the pots and for the front. I figured that I could get to them next Tuesday or Wednesday. I’ve always had a problem with procrastination, especially when it came to yard work. It is probably an area that I need inner healing.

Well, I was getting ready for my run this morning when John called. Biddie wanted to get the plants for me, and she wondered if I wanted to go with them. No, I knew that I would be no help, so I told her to just pick out what I needed, and I would pay her later. I went on a run for almost an hour, and then went to Publix shopping. I was tired, it was hot, but I figured I would do some trimming and weeding when all of a sudden John and Biddie came in with all my plants. So here was my dilemma, do I plant or do I weed? Both are necessary task and both are needed. I knew that I wouldn’t have time for both. It was very hot and humid, and even if I did have the time, I probably wouldn’t have the energy. To be honest, weeding and trimming would probably be easier, but I’m standing looking at all the plants. If I don’t plant them, I have to water them and put them up so they will be protected from the heat. The best protection that they can have is to be planted. So, for the next three hours, in the hot sun and high humidity, I dug up all the old plants, the mixed in new soil, planted the plants and fertilized them. Then I replaced the pine straw. During this whole time I was constantly pouring sweat. The thing about having a shaved head is that there is no hair to hold the sweat. It constantly is running of into your eyes or glasses or just down your back. After the three hours, I was totally wiped out. But all the planting was done. The funny thing about the planting is that the weeds in the area I planted were taken care of. They were gone as I prepared the soil.

In the garden of our hearts we have weeds, and we also have areas that need planting. I believe that we should first concentrate on the planting. Just as in my yard, the plants are tender. The plant might be a new truth or revelation from God. It might be a prophetic word that needs to be ingested and meditated on. It could be anything. The key is that we should take care of the planting before we take care of the weeding. We need to get the plants firmly in the ground of our heart where they will be protected. Also as we do that, some of the associated weeds will be removed. Yes, we sometimes need to weed our hearts, but we should not be so introspective that we wind up “Naval gazing”. Instead we should allow Holy Spirit to point out where the weeds are that need to be removed. Much like Julia was pointing them out to me today in the yard. He will be sure to point them out, then when you have time you can weed your own garden. But always choose first to plant, then to weed. In life as well as in the spirit, it is the best thing to do.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Day 151 - A Happy Day

Today is Jennifer and Sean’s wedding anniversary. Fifteen years ago today, Julia and I were finishing up a very big day and a big year. Lisa had just graduated from High School, Julia was preparing for Jennifer’s wedding. My job was to write the checks and not complain. I learned early in the year that weddings were about daughters and mothers. The father of the bride got to write the checks and walk the bride down the aisle. Oh yes, I also got to comment on what a good selection they had made on flowers, cake, dresses or anything else that they decided on but I had to write the check for. I learned that a budget for a wedding sometimes was just a suggestion that could be changed at the drop of a pin.

Seriously, Julia and Jennifer did a good job on sticking to a very Liberian ( in my opinion) budget. Julia is an excellent seamstress and she made Jennifer’s bridal gown. It was very beautiful and I am sure would have cost me much more if it had been purchased. But it still cost a pretty penny. Julia kept saying, “look at how much we are saving”. I wanted to say , “Look at how much we are spending.” But I didn’t, at least not out loud. The tine of preparation for the wedding was fun in some ways. But as the time came to “give Jennifer away”, I realized that I didn’t want to. You see, there was no man who was worthy of my daughter. At least that I what I thought. Sure, this guy named Sean Lyden seemed nice, but he couldn’t be as nice as he seemed. No, there had to be something wrong with him. But Jennifer seemed to really love him, and they did seem like a good couple. I went through the same thing later with Lisa, so I know that it wasn’t Sean, it was me. I just didn’t want to let go.

If you have ever seen the movie “Father of the Bride” you will know a little about what I was going through. Most people see that movie as a comedy. I saw it as a horror movie. Steve Martin represented most of my unspoken thoughts. I have watched that move probably five times, and I still don’t think it is that funny. I have too much empathy with the father. But that is where our Father differs with me. He doesn’t care about costs. He paid the ultimate price. He love’s us and is not afraid to let us choose our won path, because He trusts us. Eventually, this is where I wound up with Jennifer and Sean. I released them to their destiny and let them choose their own path. Why? It was because I loved Jennifer and I trusted her. She was right, and as the years have passed, I have come to love Sean as son that I never had. I see God’s hand in their marriage, through the ups and downs. I know his heart, and I trust him. He and Jennifer have given me two beautiful granddaughters. Their destiny is part of my legacy, and I want to help make sure they are able to fulfill all that God has for them too.

Fifteen years, that is quite an accomplishment in today’s world. I give them both credit for perseverance. I thank God for His grace in their lives and marriage, for without that none of us would have survived that long. I know that Julia is smiling down on them tonight. We both made mistakes along the way. As parents, the hardest thing to do sometimes is nothing. Prayer is usually the answer, not interference. So tonight Jennifer and Sean, I honor you. I honor you for your commitment to each other and to God. I hope that you will know and understand His goodness as much, if not more, than I do. I pray that He will continue to bless you both and that your next 15 years will be easier and even more fruitful than the last 15. Live life to the fullest. Don’t ever hold back because of fear. Press into Papa and know that He loves you. Julia and I love you both. May the Father’s blessings be released in your lives and the lives of your daughters.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Day 150 - What is a "Good" Day?

Tonight I'm just sitting here in my rocker asking Holy Spirit what He wants me to say. I really don’t have anything, and I’m here because it is a discipline, not because of great revelation. As I look back on the day, it is one of those OK days. Nothing special happened and nothing bad happened. Probably the best part of the day was this morning sitting out on the deck and reading Steve Backlands book on igniting faith. Then making all the declarations about my day. It’s really funny how you look at things. As I think back to this morning and then look forward, the day was great. I was able to go to the chiropractor and then go to work. Work went well, and then I drove home. It wasn’t a super exciting day, but it really was a good day.

I guess every day in our life can't be the day we save the world or the day we find the gold. Sure those days are special, but when you really look at it, every day is special. I didn’t get to pray for anyone today, but I did spread joy, and I did bring the Kingdom of God into every situation that I was in. It wasn’t exciting, but it was real. But I guess it wasn’t exciting because I really wasn’t ministering to anyone or training anyone in the Kingdom. So what is the difference? Why can I be excited about one thing, and the other thing just is. Both are important. If I didn’t have days like today, I couldn’t have the other “special” days. Papa knows what I need, and I should be happy and grateful no matter what I am doing. I guess I still have a long way to go. The good news is that I am getting there.

So, what defines a “good” day? Do you have to be at church and in worship? I don’t think so. Do you have to be involved in praying for healing? Do you have to be giving a prophetic word? No, not really. A good day is any day that you are in communion wit one of the Godhead; Papa, Jesus or Holy Spirit. And you are obedient to them. A good day might mean you just stay at home and clean house or pull weeds. A good day might mean that you go to work, do your job in an excellent way and come home. As long as you are obedient to what you are called to do, and do it with all your heart as unto the Lord, you have had a good day. So with that definition, I had a good day today!

I haven’t been home much. I went from a “D” period to a “C” period today and to a “B” period tomorrow. That means that I was only scheduled to have about 12 hours in between leaving work and reporting to work. That’s almost 3 hours in driving so it leaves 9 hours. If I sleep 7 then that only leaves me 2 extra hours a day for the past two days. Thank goodness I finished early last night and a little early tonight. No wonder I am a little tired tonight. I have to start tomorrow at 9:20. But after tomorrow I wll be off for six days. That is great. Of course I have to drive to mobile and back on Sunday and Monday. We do have cell tomorrow night, so it will be fun to hang out with friends. Then we have Healing prayer and a sozo meeting on Saturday. So I will still be busy, but it will be fun.

Last night after I finished my blog, I went to bed. I was awake for a while, just thinking. Thinking about Julia, thinking about my life without her. I wasn’t being morbid or remorseful, I was just thinking. You know we all have our own race to run. Julia finished hers. I have always been envious of people who finish things before I do. Not to brag, but not many people finish before I do. So when they do, I think about them, wondering how they did it. I want to live a strong, passionate, full life. I have never thought about living a long life. Julia on the other hand wanted to live long. Now don’t get me wrong, she wanted to live a long, healthy, full life. She always got on to me for saying I didn’t care how long I lived. It’s ironic that things have turned out the way they have. But my idea of a good life hasn’t changed. I want a full, passionate, strong life. If I grow old, that’s OK if I’m healthy. It’s about the life lived, not the time lived. Sorry Julia, my thoughts still haven’t changed. In fact, I’m more set toward the course now than ever before. I have a destiny in God. I will reach it. How long I live is irrelevant. The key thing is to LIVE; that, I intend on doing.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Day 149 - Five Months

I woke up this morning around 3AM. I was still partially asleep and I reached over to touch Julia. Of course she wasn’t there. I haven’t done that in a while but as I realized she wasn’t there, I also realized that it was about this same time five months ago that the ER doctor said that she was going to ICU and was very sick. I didn’t go back to sleep right away, I just lay in the bed wishing that she was beside me. I finally drifted back off, but I kept waking up about every half hour just thinking about that day. So here it is the 8th of June, five months to the day of Julia’s death. All day long I’ve been thinking about where I was, and what I was doing. I had to work tonight, so I was too busy to think about her at the actual time of her death. I’m glad that I was working and couldn’t spend the whole day like that. It’s probably not a good thing. I know that the 8th of every month so far has been like this or worse.

Which is worse, to feel deep hurting pain or to feel no pain? I don’t know but I think they both can be good and bad. I know that doesn’t make sense, but today for the first time on the 8th, I didn’t feel the deep hurting, shooting pain that I had felt before. But not feeling it scared me. I wanted to feel it. I wanted to have that connection, but it wasn’t there. That scares me more than having the deep pain. No, today there was just a big empty void. Her absence was very real, and there was nothing that I could do about it. I know that I will never forget her, but I don’t want to lose the connection and today I realize that I will eventually loose part of it. There is nothing that I can do. Time has a way of erasing some things. Yes the hurt, but I am afraid it will erase more than the hurt, and right now I don’t want that. I will gladly take the hurt to keep all of the passion and love. Maybe I am wrong, I hope so. It’s just that this empty hole somehow seems worse in some way.

I am grateful to Papa that a bubble of grace surrounds me. I know that I shouldn’t be doing as well as I am. But I am not special. If I can live in this bubble of grace, then so should every believer who faces grief. He is no respector of persons. If He will do it for me, He will do it for others. This is not a wone tome thing. This experiment that I am in is to prove to others that they don’t have to walk through the “traditional model of grief”. Who says you can’t live on a higher plane. It’s just like healing. The Kingdom of God intervenes into the affairs of earth. Well the Kingdom of God is intervening in my life right now. Even as I have been writing Holy Spirit has been showing me that this lack of pain is a good thing and that I will still have the love and passion. The empty hole will be replaced by more of His love and passion. That passion will not only be for Julia, but for the living, those who need to be restored and refreshed. You see Julia has not died in vain.

Even though God didn’t cause her death, He can use it for good. He has used it to ignite me and many of her friends with a passion for His Kingdom that is unyielding. He has used it to ignite her two daughters to press into more of Him and His power and love. He will use it to cause His Kingdom to be advanced in many different areas. So, as we continue on this journey of healing, we need to be aware when changes occur. For me, a change has occurred, and I accept it as a good thing. I pray for my daughters that they too will continue to be healed. I pray for all of Julia’s friends who also have had a great loss. She wants us whole and active. She wants us to be warriors in the Kingdom constantly pressing into more of God. I know that to her five months seems like nothing. To me it seems like an eternity and an instant, all at the same time. Papa, I thank you for her life and love. Give her a kiss for me tonight.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Day 148 - Your Job Doesn't Define You

Sometime the days just seem to run together. Today was one of those days. I slept later than I wanted to, and then messed around the house, drinking coffee and paying a few bills. The next thing I knew it was time to get ready for work. I didn’t get the run in I wanted. The grass was too wet to cut the grass and then it was off to work. I don’t like working in the late afternoon and at night. But at least at night I can get something done in the afternoon. For some reason traffic was bad, and what should have taken an hour, took an hour and a half. I’m glad I left early. Then the simulator broke, and I was scrambling all the rest of the period catching up. I did finish my students, but it was a hard day. The good news is I have a job. I really feel bad for all those out there who have been “downsized” into unemployment, or at my age, you say “early retirement”. I remember when I retired from Delta. I didn’t want to, but with the way everything was going with the company I felt that I had to in order to protect as much of my retirement as possible. It turns out I was right, but even knowing that you made the right choice doesn’t make it feel any better. I can remember the day clearly even though it was over 7 years ago. I had met with my financial advisor, looking at all the different things that could happen. I had been praying about it, and Julia and I had talked about it. After I got through talking with him, I felt that my path was laid out for me. I should retire. So I told him what I was going to do, and I began to prepare. I wrote my retirement letter to Delta and started thinking about the future. I don’t remember if I faxed it to them or not. I do think that I told Scott, my neighbor and good friend who is also a Delta pilot. Julia was out shopping and I figured that I would tell her later in the day.

Here is a little piece of advice to all you married men. Always tell your wife first. Never tell other people anything important before you tell her. When I picked her up and we were on our way to dinner I casually mentioned that I had made the final decision and had talked it over with our financial advisor. Well, the temperature in the car dropped about 20 degrees. We were going to eat Chinese at a restaurant in Marietta. She was silent, and didn’t’ talk for a long time. We sat in the restaurant across form each other. I thought that she was going to bore a hole through me with her eyes. Of course, I realized the mistake the minute I told her, but the cat was out of the bag, how could I put it back in? Well, I couldn’t put it back in. So here I was trying to explain why I already thought she had been informed. After all, we had been talking about it for a month or so. But it’s hard to persuade someone when you know that you were wrong. I wasn’t wrong to retire, just wrong not to bring her into the loop before the decision was official. I think that night was one of the longest dinners I ever had. I didn’t think we were ever going to talk again. I knew I had blown it, and I apologized, but it was going to take more than that. We were going to meet someone, and that was no fun. We had to pretend that nothing was going on, when both of us just wanted to leave and go home. Well, we did work it out, and I did retire. But retiring early leaves a funny taste in your mouth.

I thought I was ready mentally, but I wasn’t. I didn’t think that I had allowed my job to define me, but I had. I had been a pilot for over 30 years, 25 with Delta. I had no idea how much my identity was wrapped up in flying. Now I wasn’t flying. Who was I? Sure I am a believer, and I thought that my identity was in Christ. It is now, but it wasn’t then; at least not completely. Men are funny that way. It seems that from the time you are a boy, it’s not who you are, it’s what do you do. We let our jobs define us. Only when we finally realize who we are in Christ will we ever be able to get rid of the idea that our job defines us, and also defines our worth to society.

I guess it was at least two years after retirement before I began to get a true picture of who I am. When we have the wrong picture, we can do many foolish things trying to maintain an image that doesn’t exist. I didn’t do anything illegal or immoral, but I did make some stupid decisions during that time. The key is having a strong identity in Christ. We men and women need to realize that our identity is in Him, not our jobs, not our kids and not our stuff. All work is honorable if we are doing it for His glory.

So I do thank Him for my job. It pays very good for the time that I work. It allows me the flexibility to be off when I need to and to be involved in ministry. This job is a gift from Papa, and I am very grateful. But I am even more grateful tht He has allowed me the wisdom and grace to know that it is not my work that defines me, it is His love, and His calling on my life. That is what is important. As long as I keep Him in the center, I will be OK.