Let Me Be Frank… 1-9-19

I wanted to share this idea I came across a while back.  It’s a giving key.  You wear the key around your neck as a reminder and, when you see someone that needs that word and the Spirit moves you, you give the key away.
My word for 2019?  JOY
I want joy.  I crave joy.  Every day I wake up and pray that my heart is filled with joy, my interactions are filled with joy, and the way I approach every situation during the day is filled with joy.
I’m still praying.
I don’t know why it’s so hard for me to just approach everything with joy.  I tend to focus on the imperfections, on how long the process takes, and my shortcomings as a result.  It’s not supposed to be this way.
 “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!”
Nehemiah 8:10
Every day is a sacred day before our Lord.  Don’t be sad and sick with shame.  The joy of the Lord is your strength!  So, what is the opposite of joy? 
Is it sadness? When my dad passed away I was devastated.  But I was also happy and full of joy!  Why?  Because of Heaven and the promise of eternal life.  Joy occupied the same space as my sadness.  
The great Rob Base (and DJ Ez Rock) told us the opposite of joy is pain.  But what would you say about bringing a child into the world?  Ask any mother if there was not joy in that moment alongside the pain.  They coexist.
Last one…  I checked online with Word Hippo (I love that name) and one of the antonyms for joy is vocation or work.  I don’t know about you, but I LOVE my vocation.  I pray that you find joy each and every day you head to work.  Opportunities abound for you to share your faith, encourage others, and lend someone a helping hand.
My purpose for this article is two-fold…  1)  What is your word for the year?  Is it brave, courage, happy, trust, faithful, strength, or ______________.  Spend some time in prayer this week and ask the Lord to reveal that to you.  2) I’m not perfect, but I serve a perfect God.  I don’t need to be awesome; I just need to be obedient.  And, when I do that, the joy of the Lord will continue to focus my efforts on the important and the necessary.  Don’t despair, friends…  Don’t look at how far you have to go, look back to see how far you’ve come.
I can’t wait to see what 2019 holds for you as you rest in the Lord!
We are Central… and we’re in this TOGETHER! 


Something Don’d on Me! 1-9-19

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
I Thessalonians 5:11

Last Saturday evening the Cowboys were in a playoff game vs. Seattle. Early in that game, Cowboys receiver Allen Hurns was injured in a gruesome Theisman-esque tackle that sent him directly to the hospital for surgery. He’s gone for the year. But what happened the next morning by a little boy, has caught media’s attention…and really made me smile.
A young fan named Luke McSwain, wrote this in pencil for the injured receiver:
“Dear Allen Hurns #17,
I saw the Cowboys-Seahawks game last night. I saw you for hurt. I hope you are okay. Don’t worry you have the best [doctors] in the world. I prayed 4 times for you. You will get way better shortly.
From: Luke McSwain best fan.”
Luke also drew a picture of Hurns on a stretcher during the game and called him the “Number 1 Wide Receiver.”
His mother, Kim, said he couldn’t sleep that night and asked if he could go downstairs and write a letter. When Mom found what he wrote, she snapped a picture, put it on social media…and it went viral. Later on Sunday afternoon, word got to Allen Hurns…he searched the family out, and facetimed with the boy from his hospital bed!
You might be thinking, “Yeah, Don…you just saw this because it’s your Cowboys!” Well, my answer would be…yes. But it DOES illustrate a point that we’ve been talking about – will we BE THERE for our community? This little boy took his thought, and married it to an action… do we do that very well?
We MEAN to write a card. We INTENDED to call and take them for coffee. When we got everything caught up, we were GOING to have them over for dinner…but it just doesn’t happen. This little boy DID something. He showed up. He got up frombed and acted on his heart to encourage someone else. And it shows me that WE need to be encouragers that much more!
Hebrews 10:24 says, “Let us consider how to stir one another to good deeds…” and little Luke did just that. He encouraged ME…when he was trying to encourage Allen Hurns. Maybe we can take a hint from this young man…and stir one another!
#bethere is a simple phrase…but I hope it inspires us to do more that just GO to church. Let’s BE THERE for our community! Let’s BE THERE for those that are struggling in their marriages. Let’s BE THERE for our teens, and empower them to feel alive and valued-encourage them to be a part of AMP! Let’s BE THERE for the young adults at ENMU-and make the Christian Campus House a place of safety and empowerment! And let’s encourage EACH OTHER to #bethere when and where ever we can!
Shalom Alachiem…and #bethere

Let Me Be Frank… 12-12-18

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13

How long is too long to hold out for hope?
This inscription was found on a cellar wall in Cologne where a number of Jews hid themselves for the entire duration of the war.  Day after day they feared for their lives.  They held their breath as footsteps approached.  They waited in silence as the bombs grew closer.  Their reality was not a better tomorrow, it was a bleak today.  However, in the midst of this suffering and darkness, there was hope.
I believe in the sun even when it is not shining;
I believe in love even when feeling it not;
I believe in God even when He is silent.
400 years pass between the Old Testament and the New Testament.  Generations have come and gone, holding on to the hope of a brighter tomorrow and a Messiah who will save His people.  But God didn’t stop working just because someone didn’t write about it.  He was there the whole time, setting the stage for the Son of God who would take away the sins of the world.
Hope isn’t always the eternal optimist.  Sometimes, hope is clenched teeth and a silent prayer of, “Are You listening, Lord?”  And that’s enough…
Because He is listening!  Can you imagine looking for the signs day after day waiting for the Messiah?  Can you imagine praying for the end of a war you didn’t start so you could come out of hiding?  It’s hard for me to wrap my head around either of those scenarios but their lives (and ours) are intertwined by the same rallying cry of hope.
Our hope is not in our circumstances.  Our hope is in the Lord. 
Our hope is not in what we see.  Our hope is in what He is doing behind the scenes.
Our hope is not in what we can accomplish.  Our hope is in God – who makes the impossible possible!
This season is full of hope and expectancy but you may be running on empty.  Or you may know someone who is fast running out of hope.  Bring them with you to church this weekend.  Reach out and offer to pray with them.  And, when they ask you about your Hope, share with them the simple gospel of Jesus Christ, who came to die for us.  Tell them how He saved you and continues to keep you each and every day.
May hope abound in your lives and in your hearts this Christmas season!
We are Central… and we’re in this TOGETHER! 

Something Don’d on Me! 12-12-18

Psalm 94:19 — “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.”
If a picture is truly worth a thousand words… I don’t actually know the children in the picture shown here (found the picture on the internet!) but I got a hunch there are a few parents that have tried to take Holiday photos that can relate! Is that too much “All I wanted was ONE HAPPY FAMILY PHOTO!!! too ask???”You KNOW that’s what Mommy said when she opened that set of prints from the photographer…and saw THIS!
Why is it, that in this season of “JOY to the WORLD”…there is so much sadness, conflict, and division? I’m scared/annoyed to even turn on the news lately. Global markets… weather disasters… political gamesmanship… it’s on every channel. So I try to go local! But even then I see families that are hurting, bills that overwhelm, medical that doesn’t go away, finals for college students…and it all seems to steal the JOY that Jesus meant forUSto have!
She sat on my couch and cried. “I’ve had a miscarriage. It’s my fourth.” She said it without tears, but with more of a “vacant” stare. It was just a medical fact that she shared. She wasn’t looking for pity…she was really searching for answers. I knew that because of her next statement. “Is there something wrong with me?”  I sat in my chair, feeling sadly lacking in skill to relieve her pain.
Have YOU ever been there? Sitting, wondering if the problem in your life’s equation was YOU?? Because the situation certainly was NOT “Filled with joy”! Yeah, Don…I know the Bible says “Count it all joy, brethren, when you endure trials of many kinds…” (James 1:2) but this is really HARD!! Is it too much to ask that I have some JOY in my life???
In that verse in James, the word “count” really means to “EVALUATE.” Look at the situation and EVALUATE it as joy…even when it doesn’t FEEL joyful!! If we can evaluate what we are dealing with, in the light of God’s TRUTH and God’s PROMISES, we can sometimes see the joy behind the situation! That doesn’t mean we go dance in the street when things are going haywire…it often means to sit still and soak in HIS TRUTH, not the situation you see!
I was really stung by that verse in Psalms that is at the beginning of this article: “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.” I think it’s because I saw that word “anxiety” and I bet there’s a few of you reading this that HAVE felt anxiety! But did you notice the NEXT phrase? “YOUR consolation…”-I wonder if we really bring our anxieties to HIM? It’s easy to bring our struggles to social media…or the bottle…or keep them inside. Are you really bringing your anxieties to our Savior?? Because that verse assures us that HIS consolation relieves anxiety.
Maybe your Christmas photos didn’t work out too well. Or maybe you are dealing with pain and anxiety of a MUCH deeper level. Let Jehovah take your anxiety. And let Him replace it with Joy! And when you do…maybe we can bring a lot more joy to this world this holiday season! May your days be merry and bright…and may HE bring Joy into YOUR world!
Shalom Alachiem (Peace Be Unto You!)

Let Me Be Frank… 12-5-18

The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep 
darkness, a light has dawned.
Isaiah 9:2

Caden and I were traveling to Dora when the fog rolled in.  It was thick and hard to see as we continued.  I kept looking for landmarks to see how close we were getting to town, but the familiar wind farm was nowhere to be seen.  I only knew we had reached our destination when I saw the speed limit sign as we entered town.
The silos, the wind farm, the horse that looks like he is reading a sign because he stands so close… all these things were nowhere to be found on my journey.  The familiar sights were eclipsed by the fog.  Everything was, actually, except light.
Light off in the distance that continued to get brighter the closer I came.  Light that showed me I was on the correct road.  Light that ensured that I was not alone on this highway.  Now, these headlights passed me by, but it reminded me of this advent season and a Light that will never leave.
Sometimes the fog rolls into our lives and tries to eclipse the Light.  The fog could be anything – overwhelming circumstances, the hustle and bustle of the season, the busyness of our lives, the sadness that overtakes some during this season – but it tries to take the place of Light in our lives. 
You may be traveling this road today and you can’t see the familiar landmarks of His love.  You miss the faith that seemed to hold you strong just yesterday.  You can’t see much hope as the world continues to overwhelm you.  You can’t see His joy because of the rapid pace you’ve set for yourself.
Jesus is the Light of the World.  He illuminates our darkness.  And, even in the thickest fog of our lives, His Light pierces through, reassuring us of His Promise.
The King is coming.  Maybe not like we expected, but exactly what we needed.
Speak to my heart and reassure me that You are near.  You are strong when I am weak.  You are my joy and my song.  Help me to focus on You and Your amazing story of sacrifice and redemption in, not only my
heart, but those around me.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.


We are Central… and we’re in this TOGETHER! 

Something Don’d on Me! 12-5-18

Galatians 6:9-10 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. (ESV)

It matters. Someone reading this right now needs to hear that. What you are doing, matters. YOU matter. YOU are valuable. Yes, you’ve messed up today…but God still loves you. And all that work you are doing…it matters.
But a LOT of times…I doubt we feel that. Or is that just me? You do ALL that laundry…it takes forEVER…and there’s more in that hamper! You tightened up, you paid those bills…and it’s the 10th of the month again, and you’ve got to do it again! The library books, and the shoes for basketball games, and the progress reports…and getting cookies for that school party…and then the sniffles come, and everyone has a cold, and you’ve Clorox-wiped so much that your hands are raw…does this sound familiar to anyone?
I think the problem is that the enemy whispers in your ear… “It doesn’t matter. No one notices. No one cares.” But that is a LIE! God cares! And He notices the little things and big things you do!!
The Apostle Paul was writing to the church in Colossae and he said, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” (Colossians 3:23) That’s a powerful statement…and it would be enough to make his point. But there’s an addendum to the thought in verse 24. “You are serving the Lord Christ.” And that is an exclamation point on your work! What you are doing…is not just for you…it’s for HIM!!
When you change that diaper for the umpteenth time…“You are serving the Lord Christ.”When you do the 7th load of laundry today…“You are serving the Lord Christ.” When you go through that chemo…“You are serving the Lord Christ.” When you drive that bus, or swing that hammer, or work that spreadsheet, or sell that car…“You are serving the Lord Christ.”When you fight to keep your sobriety and you battle with your depression and anxiety…”You are serving the Lord Christ.” And as you pay those bills, and make those lunches, and wipe those countertops…you are creating a HOME, and thereby “You are serving the Lord Christ.”

It matters. And YOU matter to God! Don’t give up! Don’t get weary in doing good! He sees you. And He loves you. I don’t know who needed to hear this today, but if it’s you-I’m glad you are reading this.
May God’s peace reign in your heart and in your home!
Shalom Alachiem!

Let Me Be Frank… 11-28-18

“A man there was, though some did count him mad, the more he cast away the more he had.”
John Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress

In our early years of marriage, Marea and I tried to “keep up with the Joneses.”  We bought a bunch of stuff we couldn’t afford to impress people we didn’t really know.   We thought the stuff made us happy and life was good.
We started getting rid of our stuff when we moved from our home on Aquarius.  It was a gorgeous home, custom built and tailored to our wants and desires.  We thought the home made us happy and life was good.
Two houses later and this house was bigger than our last.   This reason was different, though.  We planned to fill it with family and friends.  We planned cookouts and connect groups.  We planned discipleship opportunities and get-togethers.  We thought the extra space made us happy and life was good.
Looking back, life was good because the Giver of Life was in the center of our relationship.  Our joy didn’t come from things, it came from the Lord.  We realized that stuff can make you happy but it can’t sustain your joy.
Here are some things I’m still learning…

  1. You don’t have to take a pic or compose the perfect tweet every time something amazing happens.  Just enjoy the journey.
  2. When you stop and admire the sunrise, worship the Creator and not the creation.
  3. Be present.
  4. You really can’t take it with you.

We are blessed to be a blessing.  But when we hold on to this world with a firm grip we leave little opportunity for the Holy Spirit to work in our lives.  When we have decided on what fills our hearts, we leave little room for Jesus.
The more he cast away, the more he had… 
Empty me and fill me with Your Holy Spirit.  Help me to see Your Hand at work in my life, guiding me closer to who You intended me to be.  Help me to not hold so tightly to this world that I forget to hold on to You.  Thank you for not only saving
me, but continuing to do a mighty work in me for my good and Your glory!
In Jesus’ name, Amen.

We are Central… and we’re in this TOGETHER! 

This AMPed me UP! 11-28-18

“Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” – 1 Timothy 4:12 ESV

All I can say about this past weekend is “WOW!” Our students really put love into action. Praying for strangers is not an easy thing. If we are honest with ourselves, none of us probably do it as often as we should. But this past weekend, our students got out of their comfort zones and shared the love and light of Jesus.

JH went to McDonald’s, where there was plenty of opportunity to shy away from what God had called us to do, but they persevered. People’s lives are forever changed because of what some11-14 year olds did that night as a result of the Holy Spirit’s prompting. It was truly amazing to watch.

HS had less opportunity at Landall’s for prayer, but we were able to fellowship with each other. The few people that were there were prayed for and a valuable lesson was learned:

God is not looking for the bravest, the best communicators, the most knowledgeable, or even people that have the slightest clue what they are doing. He is looking for willing hearts.

Two young ladies were challenged to pray with a student from ENMU. He asked, “So, how do we do this?” One girl said, “I guess let’s bow our heads.” While she prayed for him, the other young lady prayed for her. During the prayer, the first young lady thought it was important for God to hear the ENMU student’s name and so she paused her prayer, asked his name, and then continued to pray for him by name.

Afterwards, she felt embarrassed at how it went, but we took it as a moment to realize that in the middle of all of it, she and her friend did so many things right: they were brave enough to ask, they were confident enough to say that they weren’t sure how to even do this, and they cared enough to get his name. They were authentic in everything they did and that is the greatest way to show people the love of Jesus.

 —  —  —  —  —  —  —  —  —  —  —  

Lord, thank You for using our students to change Portales and affect eternity. Continue to give them courage to put love into action. Set divine appointments for them on a daily basis to shine as lights for You. We love what you are doing in and through AMP. Grow us according to Your will.
In Jesus’ Name. Amen.


Something Don’d on Me! 11-28-18

Did you ever play “Keep Away” when you were a kid? You know, there’s 2 or 3 people that have the football (or volleyball or red ball that used to smash you in the face in DodgeBall) and one guy stuck in the center. The job of the guy in the center is to TAKE the ball, and the job of the others is to keep it away from him, hence the deep and theologically challenging name of “Keep Away.” There are not many rules, and everyone learns them inherently. This game is fun for a few minutes if you’re one of the outside guys, but if you’re the one in the middle…the game gets old very quickly. And until you catch the ball, you’re stuck where you are.
For the guy in the middle, it’s demoralizing. If you forget the OBJECT of the game, all you’ll do is run around. It’s easy to get agitated when the others won’t move. When, in fact, it’s not THEIR turn to move…it’s yours! YOU have to move and find the right opportunity to get the ball back! But often, the more tired we become, the less we want to participate. It’s easier to QUIT, and walk away. When you feel stuck in the middle, it’s not just about being patient…it’s about being persistent.
I want you to go back and read that last sentence again…you may have skimmed it too fast. Did you hear that: It’s not just about being PATIENT…it’s about being PERSISTENT! Do you ever feel like LIFE is playing “Keep away” with your money and your peace and your rest?? Do you get TIRED of the rat race and wonder if it even makes any difference? Do you have an overwhelming desire to scream “stop the world I want to get off!?” What if it’s time for YOU to stay at it??
Please note that I am NOT talking about “working harder to get to heaven.” That is NOT my purpose at all…I’m talking about getting through a busy season that wants to steal your joy! Maybe that’s in the job situation (or even in the job hunt) and it’s easiest to just walk away-could God be asking you to BE PERSISTENT? Maybe the marriage just continually gets worse. You’re not even sure which way to turn. Could God be asking you to BE PERSISTENT?
In the game, it’s very easy to get angry at the OTHERS for not moving. We can get frustrated at them and transfer our expectation for a breakthrough on to them. What if – instead of blaming the others around you – it’s really YOUR turn to make a change?? Could your attitude be better? Could you be more humble or forgiving? Have you lifted the other one up in prayer?
I’ve been overwhelmed lately at the CONSISTENCY of God and the inconsistency of Don. I see HOW MANY TIMES God has come through for me-He has not failed, and I don’t expect Him to start now! But I often give up way too quickly. I often fail in being PATIENT and PERSISTENT.
When Scripture tells me “Knock and the door shall be opened,” (Matt. 7:7) I get the implication that the knocking is not just a short rap on the door. It’s a CONSISTENT banging on the doors of heaven. When Paul tells believers that he will “press on to the goal,” (Phil. 3:14) he’s using the metaphor of a distance runner that doesn’t quit! And when he tells the church at Thessalonica to “not grow weary in doing good,” I think Paul hears the tired hearts of the ones in the middle. I think he sees them caught in this game of “Keep Away” where the outside guys laugh and the center guys sigh.
But my God is not indifferent to your exhaustion. He sees your weariness…and tells you He WILL be with you!! Don’t give up. Don’t give up. Don’t give up. Don’t give up. Never ever ever ever give up!
Maybe this is a trying season for you – I’m encouraging you to be PERSISTENT in your searching for HIM! He will NEVER play “Keep Away” with your heart and His Love! Stay at it…He’s on your team!
ShalomAlachiem (Peace Be Unto You All)

Let Me Be Frank… 11-21-18

I went to about three youth groups in high school.  It gave me an opportunity to hang out with my friends and it kept me out of trouble.  In fact, many of the people I still interact with today were in those youth groups.  Hide and seek, laser tag in the dark, taco box runs, and church camp.  Those were the days.

At the end of one of the youth groups I attended we would make a circle, hold hands, and recite this blessing to one another.
“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”’
Numbers 6:24-26

I didn’t fully understand the significance of being together and reciting that across the circle but I think I’m starting to get it (finally).

  1. Memorize God’s word.  It keeps the focus on Him and not you.
  2. Speak blessings to those near you, but also those across from you.
  3. You can’t curse someone (or wish them harm) when you are in the process of praying blessings over them.

When I was teaching choir we would finish ourBaccalauereate service with Numbers 6:24-26.  It was not only a chance to send our graduating seniors off into the world, but an opportunity to speak life over those in attendance.
In this season of Thanksgiving, I am thankful for the crimson cord of Jesus that has run through my entire life (and yours).  I am thankful that He gave me those verses to internalize at a time when I wasreceptive, because there would be a time (not long after) when I would choose to run the other way.
I am thankful that I found a song (so many years later) that would remind me of my teenage years, allowing me to make an impact in the lives of those around me.
And in this season I pray that my heart resonates and recounts Numbers 6:24-26.   That blessings, not cursings, will flow from my lips.  That gratitude, not worry, will consume my heart.  And that joy, not sorrow, will remind me that Jesus is writing my story. 
From the bottom of myheart I pray blessings to each one of you today!
We are Central… and we’re in this TOGETHER!