Grateful for the Lord’s Kindness

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds” James 1:2

Last Friday evening I was doubled over in pain for a few hours before a trip to the ER at FMC. By noon the next day, I was in surgery having my gall bladder removed.  I learned it’s perhaps one of the most common surgeries at the hospital.  I’m sure I’ve heard of others having gone through it before, but honestly you just don’t give it much thought until it’s your turn. I won’t bore the reader with the predictable descriptions of pain and the challenge of patience, waiting for my number in the ER.  What I simply want to say is how grateful I am for the entire event.

No, not the pain. Didn’t ask for or enjoy that. Yet, it’s what alerts the attention to take care of something before it worsens, so yeah, I guess I am thankful for that part of the story.

After the pain meds got to work and before I learned what the issue and remedy would be, I was amazed at how nice everyone was.  From the people that take your information to the nurse that begins the vitals and history.  The attendants in my ER room for several hours including the surgeon on call who kindly came in and explained what was going on how it would play out, the entire staff of people were spot on.  They were aware of me and the mess I was in. They expressed empathy while administrating professionally.  I experienced several firsts during the event. My first sonogram, my first actual hospital stay and of course my first meeting of the many different nurses, doctors, surgeons and others whom I don’t quite know the correct terms or initials.  All kind. All helpful.

As I lay there between ‘draws’ and resting, I thought of so many people working together to meet my need.  I doubt they all even know each other, but each had a role, and each did it well.

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thes 5:18

The reason for this post is to say thanks. To thank God for a great doctor who recommended I go immediately to the ER without knowing what we were looking at. An amazing wife who took over all that night and the following week to make sure meds were taken and help me avoid the tendency to get going too quickly.  Grateful for my surgeon and her assistant, the day shift, the night shift, the ones I learned were new to FMC and the neighbor who’s been helping people for many years.

As a pastor I’ve spent plenty of time in the hallways and waiting rooms and bedsides of Flagstaff Medical Center, but as a patient, I must say I again was proud of my town, my people. First class care.

Two lessons learned:

  1. We all need each other.
  2. It takes all of us working together.

In addition, let me simply say a huge thanks for my Grace Church family for their prayers, cards, emails, texts, and the meals provided.  Very few are on my list of who to call on a Saturday to preach on Sunday. Thank you to my friend and colleague, Brian. 

I’m looking forward to joining with my people at Grace tomorrow.  Thank You, Lord for the experience and Your grace and favor in the outcomes. 

Thankful from the heart

Thanksgiving! Gathering with the family, enjoying great food. And a day to say thanks. I was reading this morning from Isaiah 28 and was reminded how important it is to have a changed heart.

“Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me” Isaiah 28:13

Many of those who would soon face judgement in Israel were only giving a formal, outward worship to God, not a genuine from-the-heart kind of worship.  They were more concerned about the laws of man, legalism, than with the abundant grace of God given to them.  They were good at the ‘lip-service’, but it was their hearts that God was more concerned about.

Today, we can know God, through Jesus Christ.  Jesus died on the cross, He took my place, paying for my sins. We don’t face a judgement, because Jesus already took our punishment.

Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. Rom 10:9-10

Today, especially today, let our hearts reflect our worship, not just our lips.

Consider the words of Paul in Colossians 3:15-17:

15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him

Happy Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day isn’t about the perfect mom. It’s not about Proverbs 31. It’s not a day to compare. It’s not a day to idolize.

Mother’s Day is a day to say ‘thanks’.

I have a wonderful mother-in-law that lives right next door, and for that I’m grateful. I’m thankful for her and her love for her kids and grandkids and even the in-laws!

I have a mother who is with Jesus and has been there longer than I knew her here. I miss her. But I’m so very thankful for her.  I know she’s in heaven and I can’t wait to see her again.

So, with that, I say to all the moms, “Happy Mother’s Day”. And here’s a little bonus from when we all lived in black and white, 9 of the 10:IMG_2203

God’s House

But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, 

will enter your house. 

But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; 

let them ever sing for joy, 

and spread your protection over them, 

that those who love your name may exult in you. 

Psalm 5:7, 11

Today, Grace experienced a great ‘work-day’.  We are moving our Ministry Center and Offices to another temporary rented location.  The reason: about twice the space, much less in rent, allowing us to move forward with ministry while being financially responsible as we continue to pray and look for a place to purchase for our church!

We actually have two suites, very close together; one for offices, and the other is the main meeting room area.  The Ministry Center side is mostly good to go, we will be redoing the stage area and painting the entire room, but otherwise it’s in great shape.  Today’s work was tearing stuff out in the other room so the builders can get to work building out the office space.  I was so encouraged to work alongside so many great people today.  There’s a lot to do still, but today was good.  I’m sure I’ll get some pictures posted soon.  Thanks to all of you who were able to carve out most of your morning to lend a hand.


Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, 

for his steadfast love endures forever. 

Psalm 136 may have been read or sung in the temple as the Passover lambs were being slain. The priest would read or sing the first part of each [verse] then the congregation would sing or read the last phrase which is the same throughout the Psalm.

The key word in the response is the Hebrew word for ‘mercy’ or ‘steadfast love’. We might pronounce is ‘hesed’, with more of a ‘ch’ sound at the beginning. Defined in part as “loyal love” it’s God’s gift of love towards us, as best seen in words like ‘mercy’. A brief survey of English translations shows even a fuller meaning of the term, and this in turn can help us see the root of our thankful hearts. It’s Who God is and what He’s done for us.

ESV: for his steadfast love endures forever

NKJV: For His mercy endures forever

NASB: For His lovingkindness is everlasting

NIV: His love endures forever

NLT: His faithful love endures forever

There is so much to give thanks for on this Thanksgiving Day 2013. At the center of it all is the finished work of Jesus on the cross, taking my place, paying for all of my sin. And now as His very own, I will proclaim His goodness, His love and mercy, His ‘hesed’ for all to hear.

God bless each of you this Thanksgiving!

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 1 Thes 5:18 NLT

 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you Phil 1:3

We’ve enjoyed a couple of days getting acclimated to the time zone and visiting some of the local ministries. I was so blessed to hear things went well back home with our Men’s Advance and at Grace on Sunday morning. I sure love our team.

Today, we’ll travel north to the city where we will meet up with the Hmong pastor’s and their wives where conference starts this evening.  Pray for all the guys to get there safely. I know some were held up yesterday at the Laos border.  Many of these guys travel for days.  I’m really looking forward to seeing some familiar faces from last year as well as meet many new guys.

Thanks for your prayers.

This is our team. Great people!
This is our team. Great people!

Enjoying beautiful gardens
Enjoying beautiful gardens

Thanks, LORD.

Thanksgiving.  There’s no new way to say what’s already been said, but it still must be said. Let us give thanks.

If our thanks starts with the Lord, the rest will fall into place. He is the reason we can give thanks, and He is the One to Whom we will give thanks.

10 Therefore David blessed the Lord in the presence of all the assembly. And David said: “Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever. 11 Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. 12 Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. 13 And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name.

The sun comes up it’s a new day dawning
It’s time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes

Verse 2

You’re rich in love and You’re slow to anger
Your name is great and Your heart is kind
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find

Verse 3

And on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending
Ten thousand years and then forevermore

Bless the Lord O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name

25 Years Ago



There are not enough words to express my gratitude to the Father for allowing me to be be born into this family.  Mom and Dad served the Lord as missionaries in Mexico for many years. And they raised 10 kids.

My mother would be so proud of her kids, grandkids and great grandkids.

I still can’t believe my wife never knew my mom.  Someday. For now though, we remember and we give thanks.

Grace and the persecuted life

I’m not even sure how to write this evening (morning in Flagstaff).  The people I met and what I learned today is of the kind that can change a person’s life.  It will take some time for me to process.

My main assignment is to do what I love and that is speaking on grace.  However, I’m asking myself why I am the one up front doing the teaching. I’m speaking to men who have experienced great persecutions.  I talked to people today who are not allowed to own property in their particular country because they are Christians.  I met a man who spent over 2 years in prison, because he is a Christian.  I need to find out what I can and cannot say about the men I met with today from an underground church movement. The numbers blow me away.  These are humble men.

And I’m the one teaching them about grace.  I should just sit down and shut up.

But, by God’s grace and in obedience to Him, I’ll keep teaching what I know. And, I’ll also continue to sit and listen to the stories.

I’m not going to lie, I’m tired.

And grateful.

Thank you Lord, for letting me have the mic on this needed topic of grace. And Lord, bless these dear men.  Help me to learn from them in our time together.  I’m so grateful #T2RS