Drew Brees’ Testimony

He has a couple of things going for him in my book.  He is a Christian and he was a Purdue Boilermaker, my favorite college of all.  Too bad I’ll be rooting for the Colts in the Super Bowl Sunday.

Tangle.com has a video interview in which Drew Brees tells about his coming to Christ and his faith in action.  Watch and I trust you’ll be encouraged like I was.

You’ll have to click on the following link to watch the video. I am unable to embed anything from Tangle.com here.  I’ll have to check into it.

http://www.tangle.com/view_video?viewkey=bd7ec415527e25ad4731

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The King is Coming

Today was a special and a sad day.  A day of rejoicing and a day of mourning.

If you’ve figured I was talking about a funeral-memorial service, than you  figured right.

Today we honored a man of faith who died earlier this week. Jim was an incredible man of faith. I was given the privilege of sharing about Jim.

Let me share a little bit more about his faith.

Monday night when I was visiting Jim, his wife and family, they were playing an album by the Statler Brothers for Jim.  The song that was playing when I arrived was Bill Gaither’s “The King is Coming.”  A powerful song.  A song of truth.  And a song of comfort and I got to see it comfort someone first hand.  “The King is Coming” was Jim’s favorite song and it brought him comfort.

But more than that, Jim was comforted by the Statler’s album about Jesus’ life.  Jim’s final hours were filled with the word of God, in song, specifically the Gospel, the life of Jesus, and the final song, “The King is Coming.”

Jim’s God is the God of comfort and Jim experienced that in his final moments and knows that now in God’s eternal hands.

You will find comfort with Jesus too.  He is the believer’s strength.

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A Blind Man’s Testimony

In the fall of 1976 I was a student at Northeastern Oklahoma State University, in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, a small town and campus nestled in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains in Northeastern Oklahoma.  I wasn’t sure what my major would be, though I had this brilliant idea that I wanted to major in Indian Studies, and be a social worker, helping Native Americans. How, I wasn’t sure, but at least I had a goal, even if it was farfetched.

I was raised Catholic, and did all the Catholic stuff; Holy Communion, Confirmation, picking a Saint.  I had a Catholic religious education for most of my schooling, but at college, I wasn’t very much into religion.  I knew about God, I didn’t know much about the Bible, but I accepted Jesus being born and dying on the cross, you know, Christmas and Easter, not much more.

It was in the early weeks of the fall of 1976 that I’d just gotten out of a Sociology class.  I usually scheduled all my classes in the morning, so that I’d have the rest of the day off, to study or just hang around and I usually just hung around putting off my studies until the last minute.  Not a smart move, but when you’re a freshman at college you tend to do some stupid things.

Usually when I got to the cafeteria, the lady at the desk would help me go through the line, I enjoyed hamburgers, french fries, pizza, typical college food, things that were easy to get and have people help me with, but on this day things were different.  The lady wasn’t able to help me, so she got four students to help me through the line.  They were very polite and nice and asked me to sit with them at their table.  I hadn’t been asked that very much before.  I guess other students felt uncomfortable seeing someone blind and with a cane.  They probably couldn’t relate.  These students were different.  In fact, one of the guys lived in the same dorm as me and had seen me before, and we’d talked for a while.

This was the first lunch that I really enjoyed.  We talked, shared about our majors, where we lived in the dorms, where we were from, the usual things to get to know each other and break the ice.  It was really nice; the students were really outgoing, but they were also really sincere.  It surprised me a little, but it came at a good time.

Just before lunch ended one of the students asked me if I’d like to come to what they called the “student center” to enjoy pizza, play volleyball and meet other students.  I jumped at the chance and said yes, who in their right mind would turn down free pizza, and I’d hadn’t had any pizza for quite a while.  The guy that lived in the dorm said he’d come pick me up.  So I was excited, not really knowing what the “student center” was or that it was called the “Bible Chair.”   That really made me open my eyes, but I went anyway.  I was interested because these kids were different, I didn’t know why and couldn’t lay a finger on it, but what I saw I liked and wanted to learn more

I was picked up around 6 P.M. and went over to the Bible Chair and met more students, just like the ones in the cafeteria.  Again, there was something different about them, but I couldn’t figure it out.  Their language, their conduct, and how they treated each other and related to each other was a lot different than in the dorms.

We played lots of volleyball.  I was allowed to be my team’s server, and it was fun.  I don’t recall if my side won or not, but it was lots of fun, and later we had pizza.

Then, the most interesting thing happened, we had a Bible study.  I’d never really been to one and didn’t know what it was going to be about.  All I knew was that they talked about Jesus dying for our sins.  It was an enjoyable time.  It really didn’t leave a huge impact on me, but I thought that it was nice, and if I were asked to come back again, I would go mainly to meet more students, have more friends, play volleyball, and to enjoy pizza. But if I weren’t asked, it was at least something that I took part in, something I’d at least experienced, and it was nice.

But apparently, God has other plans, I knew nothing about them, and didn’t expect them to take place so soon.  But they were there right in front of me.

I’ve always loved singing, and I’d sung in the choir in high school, four part harmony, I sang tenor and loved it.  And O my Goodness, when I heard these new friends that I’d made, singing songs to God in rich and beautiful four-part harmony, I was hooked.  I might not know lots about Jesus, how to receive and accept him, but I was going to learn the songs, specifically the tenor part so that I’d be able to blend in and sing.  I worked on that really hard, I continued to come to the Bible Chair and eventually in the middle part of October, I gave my life to Christ, it was a student retreat at Petti-John Springs, Oklahoma, where I was baptized in a creek, by Marcus Brown, the campus minister.  I had no idea what they did.  I guessed that they just helped college students.  Marcus led me to Christ and baptized me.  I know that I took part in lots of other Bible studies, and I know that I must have learned a great deal because I knew that my life wasn’t going in the proper direction. I cried so much after being baptized and I got lots of hugs and congratulations.  I really hadn’t planned on being baptized, though I’d been thinking about it and talking it over with many of the students there at NSU.  I’m sure that God knew what would lead me to wanting to have Christ in my life, the best decision I could have made.

I received my first Braille Bible from the Bible Chair at Tahlequah and I read that thing until I wore it out, especially the New Testament.  But I really believe that what led me to Christ was the fact that I loved acapella music and God knew that he was going to use this to help me come to him, and I’m sure glad that he did.

I don’t know where any of the students from Tahlequah, Oklahoma are, or the Campus Minister and his wife, I transferred to OU (Oklahoma University) a year later, and many good and wonderful things happened, but I accepted Christ in a most unique and wonderful way.  Being baptized in a creek was really special and my love for acapella music opened up my heart to receive the Love of Christ and what he did for me and why he did it by dying on the cross.  I’m sure that I went through lots of Bible studies and learned quite a lot to get me ready to accept Christ and be baptized, but it all goes together.  It’s a wonderful life and because of it, I’ve many wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ, especially my preacher buddies who I give a hard time to, but only because I love them.

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Anger Management -vs- Transformation by Christ

anger“Hi, my name is Jeff and I have an anger problem.”  Well, that’s how I’d introduce myself if there was an Anger Anonymous group.

Let me give you a couple of examples.  My brothers even remember this, and they’re 7 and 9 years younger than I am.  I am a Purdue Boilermaker fan.  My dad graduated from there.  My Grandpa taught or something there.  I love Purdue.  When I was a teen, I’d lay on my belly in the floor watching football and basketball games.  Whenever a call would go against Purdue, or they lost, especially if it was Indiana U or Notre Dame, I would pound the floor and yell in fits of anger.

Another time, my folks went to the doctor or the bank or something and since I was the oldest, left me in charge.  Mom told me to see that the table was set and whose turn it was to set the table.   I was to watch the food on the stove and a couple of other things.  When it was time, I told whoever’s turn it was, that they needed to set the table.  My sister had other ideas.  She said it was someone else.  We would yell at each other all the time.  And this was another one of those times we’d argue with the loudest voices.  I am the oldest by 5 years.  And my sister was bossy.  I think she thought she was the oldest.  It’s sort of like two families.  The folks and me and the folks and my sister and brothers.  We both have oldest child syndrome I guess. 

Well . . . our argument got so heated that I did what I have never done before or since.  I hit someone.  I hit my sister.  My hand was open, it wasn’t a fist.  I remember I left a red hand mark on her back.  At that moment, I realized where our angry arguing had gone.  When mom and dad got home, I told them what happened and apologized.  I was truly sorry that time.

I could tell of knocking a hole in the wall, getting in the car and peeling out, driving with a lead foot because I was angry.  There are too many times to tell about.  I have an anger problem.

It came to a head for me when my oldest son was 14 or 15 years old.  He had been very disrespectful to his mother, again.  Go figure teenagers.  And I lost it.  I knew he was too old to spank, but I was yelling at him.  My nose was an inch from his nose.  I was yelling at him at the top of my lungs.  I was so angry and so intense that as I yelled at him, I was slobbering.  Pretty gross.

Shortly after that episode, my son confronted me about how I dealt with him that afternoon.  My anger was out of control.  I wondered where it would lead if something didn’t change and went to God asking for help and forgiveness.

Before, I had tried to do the “count to ten” method of controlling anger.  I looked for advice on how to manage my anger.  Nothing worked because nothing changed within me.  I guess in a way it was like going to jail.  You’re confined but the same person.

It was then, that I let God’s Spirit change me.  He transformed me.  Sinful anger, has one of two elements about it.  Either it is selfish, Ephesians 4:31 & James 1:20, like when I’d get upset when the kids would wake me on Saturday morning when I was trying to sleep in and couldn’t because they wouldn’t be quiet enough for me to sleep; and it was quick-tempered – sudden, immediate outbursts of anger, 2 Corinthians 12:20.

This is another one of those times where Romans 12:2 applies.  “Do not be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

We live in a world where anger is treated like a virtue.  The only 100% effective way to conquer anger is to let God transform you from an angry person to a kind, caring, compassionate and content person.  We need help.  Help from God.  Help from God’s Word.  Help from God’s people.  We need commitment to change.

Can I illustrate how I have changed?

I have become a fan of sports.  I cheer for a couple of teams but I route for them to do good and hopefully they will win.  But  . . .  I have become a fan of the sport, not a team.  If they lose, I’m disappointed but I don’t throw things, or pound the floor or curse, or anything.  I must admit that I get upset when unfairness and injustice happens.  I want fairness above all.  As a fan of the sport of football instead of a team (or basketball, or racing, or whatever the sport) and not of a team or two, I have been changed and my anger is not controled, it is defeated.  Thank you God

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PS: I am sorry for my fits and any hurt I may have caused anyone with my anger.  I have asked for God’s forgiveness and though I am not perfect and have slipped a couple of times, God is the great changer of lives.  Mine too!

You Smile Too Much

campfireFreshman camp week is incredible.  It usually is smaller and provides more one-on-one opportunities with the campers.

It was Sunday evening.  We had supper and a little free-time, then had chapel.  Due to a couple of last minute faculty cancellations, the dean of the week, instead of putting someone in a quandary trying to prepare chapel messages with little time to prepare, chose to show some recorded messages and work from them.

Rita and I were finishing something for later that evening and came in after everyone else had been seated.  There were only two chairs left on the back row on the left.  I came in first and sat down on the inside seat next to a young lady named Sarah.  Rita came in a couple of minutes later and sat on  the outside seat next to me.

Erick was showing a Jeff Walling presentation about passing the baton of faith on from one generation of believers to another.  At the beginning of the presentation, he begins to tell a lame joke that he had told the night before at the conference the DVD was recorded at.  His son called him on.  Jeff said, maybe there were some who weren’t there the night before and he asked the audience if there were any who hadn’t been there the night before.  Apparently some people in the audience raised their hands and he pointed to them pointing them out to his son.

Now, Rita and I are goof-balls and we have a blast and we raised our hands.  That’s when Jeff pointed to the audience and it looked like he was pointing at Rita and me and we lost it.  Everyone, but Erick were clueless about what we were laughing so hard at.  But Sarah, just looked at me with an expression of “what’s wrong with this guy?

I’m just like that.  I see the funny in things that a lot of people don’t.  I smile and I laugh . . . a lot.  So does Rita.  As the week went on, I would notice Sarah staring at me.  And after a day or so, I realized she began sitting beside me at meals, chapel, campfire and classes too and I would see her staring at me.

About Wednesday, we were at campfire sharing the best thing about the day and the worst thing about the day.  Earlier that day Sarah told me that I smile too much.  I took it as a compliment.  When it was my turn to share about the best thing of the day, I said, “I was given the best compliment today by Sarah.  She told me I smile too much.”  Then I played the final chords of the theme song for the TV show Home Improvement ( http://www.angelfire.com/mi2/HomeImprovement/sounds.html scroll to the bottom of the page).

I got a really good laugh from everybody and Sarah even laughed and seemed to relax a little.   See the week before, Sarah had arrived at a children’s ranch and was being exposed to many new things.  People that care for her, people who are Christian and Christianity, and people like Rita and me who are so full of joy we laugh, a lot.

Sarah had a difficult life with little to smile at and when she encountered me, she had a difficult time figuring someone like me out.  When she learned I was genuine and the reason I and many others like Rita were so full of joy, she began her journey toward Jesus Christ.  She smiled and laughed a whole lot before the camp week was over.

That was the summer of 2006.  I saw her about 2 years later and she wondered if I remembered her.  I did and I remembered her name also.  But I noticed that the girl had changed.  She was still being filled with joy because now she knew the same joy that I knew because she knew Jesus Christ and had hope in spite of her difficult and troubled past.

It was then that I learned that God can use my joy to open the doors of evangelism (Read C.S. Lewis book Suprised by Joy).  Sarah would be about 19 or 20 now and I pray that the joy and hope she has is a lasting joy and hope.  I may never see her again, but I intend to share that eternality with her and others in heaven.

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New Years Eve 1966

esend_headerI was 9.  As any other night of the week, I was sent to bed by about 9 o’clock.  Many times I had snuck up to watch a little TV from behind the chair.  But tonight was different.  I had a burning question in my heart.

Mom was in the kitchen preparing things for Sunday’s meal and Dad was at the dining room table preparing for the Sunday School class he would teach in the morning.  That’s where they were and what they were doing when I came upstairs from my room.  It may have been 9:30 or 10 or even 11.  I don’t know, but I came to Dad and asked him what I must do to be saved.

This is one of those moments that makes me realize how much I was loved.  My Dad didn’t get upset, he didn’t act annoyed, he pushed the materials he was working with to the side, told me to sit down there beside him, and opened the Bible in front of me and began to show me, from the Bible, what I had to do to be saved and why.

I’m guessing here, but I suppose I had heard the things Dad showed before.  My preacher was Kenny Washburn and our elders were men of the Scripture (my Dad was one of them).  These were the things that the Kokomo Church of Christ, learned from the pages of the Bible, believed and taught.  But Dad showed them to me again.

I don’t know how long we sat there Dad answering my questions and showing me what God’s Word said.  It could have been 5 minutes or an hour.  It didn’t matter.  When we had covered it all, I went down to my room and as I lay in bed I made a decision.  Because I believed in Jesus and wanted to be saved, I was going to be baptized.  The next day I was going to be go forward at church and be baptized.

The next day January 1, 1967, the auditorium was full.  I had decided to go forward at the invitation song so I didn’t go to the basement for Junior Church with the other 30 or 40 kids.  I remember the auditorium being full.  But it usually was.  When the invitation hymn began, I stepped out, went to the front where Brother Kenny met me and a few moments later he buried me with Christ (cf., Romans 6:1-7).

In some ways you could say, “What a way to begin the year!”  Yeah, that’s true, but it began my new life with Christ.  It also put me on the path of evangelism.

Now, sometimes, maybe more than I want to or will admit, I can be a little slow or dense.  When I was in the first grade, we talked about church.  Mrs. Pringle was allowed to do that then.  Most of the kids went to church and they knew the name of their church.  I didn’t have a clue about the name of my church.  But now I was in fourth grade.  I went to Boulevard Elementary School about a half mile from home.  Our classroom was a progressive one.  We had two teachers in the room.  One worked with the struggling students and the other with the ones who weren’t struggling.  When the whole class was together, they had the desks set in groups of four with them facing each other.  My grouping include two other guys and a girl.

Monday, January 2 was the first day back to school after Christmas break.  When we got to our seats, I told them that I had been baptized the day before.  My first time to witness.  It didn’t go well.  The guys weren’t to interested and the girl told me that it wasn’t any big deal, she was baptized every year.

It didn’t lead anywhere with my three classmates, but the thing is, I was saved and I wanted others that I knew and liked to know about it.

There have been many other moments when I have shared my faith with people, some went worse then this first time and of course, some of those people have accepted Jesus Christ.  I know for me and I guess for some other people, New Years Eve, 1966 was a very important day.

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