Let Me Be Frank… rain

44 Finally the seventh time, his servant told him, “I saw a little cloud about the size of a man’s hand rising from the sea.” Then Elijah shouted, “Hurry to Ahab and tell him, ‘Climb into your chariot and go back home. If you don’t hurry, the rain will stop you!’” 45 And soon the sky was black with clouds. A heavy wind brought a terrific rainstorm, and Ahab left quickly for Jezreel.
1 Kings 18:44-45

Offer me two places to eat and I’ll make a choice.  And then I’ll say, “Or we can go to ___________.”  It’s my desperate attempt at covering my bases.  Where does that idiom come from anyway?  It obviously has it’s roots in baseball, but (interestingly enough) there are different theories as to which part.  My personal favorite?  “It’s a reference to the pitchers responsibility to make sure no one steals a base before his pitch. With bases loaded, he obviously has to keep an eye on all the bases.”

So, when I cover my bases I am preparing for every possibility, but I still have to throw the pitch.  I can’t just stop in the middle of the inning and wait for something to happen.  As a pitcher, in order for play to continue, I have to throw the ball. 

Sometimes we think that God has already made up his mind.  We pray for safety, for blessings, for our food… and all these things are good things to pray for.  But just as God is bigger than we can imagine so must our prayers be.  After all, don’t we trust in a God that is bigger than our circumstances.

Elijah hears the storm before he sees the storm.  The drought was into it’s third year and many probably had forgotten what rain on their face felt like.  It didn’t rain yesterday, or last month, or even last year, so why would it rain now?  And Elijah bowed his head.

“Finally, the seventh time, his servant told him, ‘I saw a little cloud about the size of a man’s hand rising from the sea.’”  And as Elijah shouted to the servant, the sky grew black with clouds.  Rain was on its way.

Offer me two choices…  Pray to the Lord for the big and the small or pray for just enough to get by.  I won’t worry about covering my bases anymore.  I won’t put God in my box.  I won’t pretend that I pray big prayers and stop at protection, blessings, and gratitude.
The rain may not come the first time I pray, but it will come.  Not because of how eloquent my prayers are, but because I lift my eyes to the One who not only hears me but acts on my behalf for my good and His glory.

Father, rain on our land and reign in our hearts.  Can’t wait to share with you this weekend!
Soli Deo Gloria!
F –

Something Don’d on Me! joy

“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” Hebrews 13:16
Jared Guyes had an idea. Jared loved nerf guns and nerf wars…and he felt like EVERY time you played nerf wars, you came away HAPPIER! (Granted, you might come away sore and bruised…but HAPPY!) So, he wanted to do something for children in the Dallas Metroplex area to bring joy. His thought was to rent some BIG place where everyone could come together, shoot nerf guns and play and laugh! He wouldn’t need to MAKE money on this…just charge enough money to pay for the facilities and basic needs…and the rest is just for FUN! So in 2011…he did it. And people loved it…and it grew. So he did again in 2012. And it caught on, and got bigger. And 2013 came…and more people came! So many nerf guns and people came, that the warehouse wasn’t big enough anymore. “I just WISH there was a HUGE building in Dallas where everyone could come together to play a game.” Hmmm…big place in Dallas?
Yes…you guessed it. AT&T Stadium. Jerry World. The Space Ship. The Holy Mecca of Football…yes… THE Dallas Cowboys Stadium! Jared RENTED OUT COWBOYS STADIUM…and it was a monster hit! In fact, in 2016, he entered the Guiness Book of World Records for “Largest Nerf Battle in the World!” (There were 2289 armed with 4394 Nerf Blasters running around on that stadium ground blasting each other!) They played, they ran, they screamed…they BLASTED! They come in costume! (A whole bunch of Avengers & Super-Hero costumes are everywhere!) They bring “Collector Weapons”! There are even rumors that several Dallas Cowboys linemen came in disguise last time they had it! Members of “Dude Perfect” and Famous E-Sports teams have shown, have paid $50 each…all for the pleasure of blasting and BEING blasted on that famous football turf! This year-after a 2 year hiatus due to covid, the Epic Battle returns to JerryWorld on Saturday, June 25!
Great Don…what does that have to do with anything?? Well for one…did you hear WHY Jared launched this crazy combat campaign?? (Nice Alliteration, huh!?) He wanted kids to have FUN! Just running and laughing and playing and having FUN! He didn’t SET OUT to get in the Guiness Book of World Records…even though he did. I doubt when he had this idea, he had any inkling that Jerry Jones would want in on this! (Jerry has supported this and is planning to launch similar battles in Atlanta at Mercedes Benz Stadium and Los Angeles at SOFI Stadium!)
Here’s a simple question: WHAT HAVE YOU DONE RECENTLY TO BRING JOY TO SOMEONE ELSE? I’m not talking about being nice and holding the door or returning your cart in the WalMart parking lot…when is the last time that YOU set out to do something to bring someone JOY!? It doesn’t have to be anything as exciting as renting a stadium and grabbing a blaster! Maybe it’s baking something for a new family in your neighborhood. Maybe it’s sending an encouraging note to someone on our prayer list. Maybe it’s coming early to church to help welcome people or make sure they have all they need down in KidZone. It’s EFFORT…to bring light into someone’s life!

Your joy WILL GROW…when you bring joy to others!But that’s going to happen when we are INTENTIONAL about loving people! When we take the time and initiative to pour into others hearts, our hearts will get the benefit…and GOD will get the glory! So GO BRING JOY to someone! Go light up your neighborhood! Go grow your JOY! If you need me, I’ll be in the toy section at Target, picking out my blaster for this year’s battle!
Shalom and Peace Unto You All!

Let Me Be Frank… finish strong

So don’t sit around on your hands! No more dragging your feet! Clear the path for long-distance runners so no one will trip and fall, so no one will step in a hole and sprain an ankle. Help each other out. And run for it!
Hebrews 12:12-13 (MSG)

How fast could you run if you knew where the finish line was? 

Some of you may answer that question with, “How big is the animal that is chasing me?”  Let’s say the animal is big, really big.  So, how fast could you run?  With the proper motivation, everyone could get across that line.

It’s been almost seventeen years since my dad died.  I used to be able to hear his voice clearly in my head, but what I remember of the sound of his voice has faded over time.  That is, except this song.  I only hear his voice singing it.  He never reached for the high note on the word “then” in the chorus, he just let it ring.  And his voice filled our tiny church.

Until Then (by Carl Stuart Hamblen)
Verse 1: My heart can sing when I pause to remember
A heartache here is but a stepping stone
Along a trail that’s winding always upwards.
This troubled world is not my final home.
But until then my heart will go on singing,
Until then with joy I’ll carry on;
Until the day my eyes behold the city,
Until the day God calls me home.

Some days are harder than others.  I think you would agree with me.  But my dad left me a parting gift when he left this world.  Aside from the wisdom and the crazy antics, he left me this song.  And the writer of Hebrews sums up the intent of the song so beautifully.  Don’t sit around on your hands.  Don’t make excuses.  Don’t drag your feet.  Until the day He calls us home, we keep running our race.

I have been trying to run long distances for awhile.  I have to stop and rest after two miles.  My lungs don’t want me to continue.  But I’m not finished.

Maybe this is you.  Days when the finish line seems so far away and it’s hard to breathe.  You’re not finished.  Help those alongside you to reach the goal.  And don’t forget to let your heart sing.  When the race gets hard and you want to give in, press in to the JOY that the Lord has for you.  This joy comes from Him, not our current circumstances.  His JOY helps us to continue.  We finish strong because we know that we run the race together and we’re all headed for that glorious finish in Christ.

But until then my heart will go on singing,
Until then with joy I’ll carry on;
Until the day my eyes behold the city,
Until the day God calls me home.

Father, rain on our land and reign in our hearts.  Help us to finish strong.  May it be so.
Soli Deo Gloria!
F –

Something Don’d on Me! prayer

It just jumped off the page at me…and slapped me up-side the head when it did! In AMP, we have been studying James with our teenagers. We play together, then we read a passage. We’ve been able to watch a video-teaching about this each week, and then we break into smaller groups and discuss what we’ve seen and heard. The Book of James is so FULL of great teachings: Controlling your tongue, dealing with suffering, Quick to listen & slow to speak, faith without works is dead…SO MUCH TRUTH!
One of my FAVORITE verses comes in the James 5:16- “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” (“The prayer of a righteous man availeth much” if you prefer it from the KJV!) I LOVE breaking down this verse! I love looking at how EFFECTIVE Prayer works and what righteousness REALLY looks like…and even what POWER is shown through prayer! It’s an incredible verse of teaching!
But that’s not the line that jumped up and Will Smith’d me in the face! (What? Too Soon?) It’s the very NEXT verse that stung me!
“Elijah was a human as we are.” James 5:17
James is discussing the POWER of prayer…and then he proceeds to discuss an EXAMPLE OF PRAYER. And one that every good Jewish boy and girl had heard of: Elijah. He’s the guy that went up against the prophets of Ba’al…and TORCHED them. He’s the one that stood up to Ahab. He’s the Prophet that heard from God in a “Still small voice”. He was carried away in a whirlwind to heaven! THIS GUY was a BIG DEAL! He was well-respected through generations…he was a true HERO and PATRIARCH of Israel!!! James begins to tell about the “Rain story”-Elijah prayed…and it didn’t rain for over 1278 days! (3.5 years…yes, I did the math!) And as James is telling this story of GREAT POWER…he tosses this little tidbit in there…Elijah…is just like us!
Honestly…I wanted to disagree with him! “No way James-Elijah was a REALLY great guy! He did REALLY great things! I’m just AVERAGE guy doing average things!” But the words James uses are intentional: JUST LIKE US. He’s HUMAN like us. He had ANXIETY like many of us. He had FEAR like many of us. He was tired and flawed and arrogant and exhausted…like all of us. His point was this: The power isn’t in the person doing the praying…the power is in the person RECEIVING THE PRAYER!
THE SAME POWER that rolled the stone away is the same power that is hearing my prayer today! Now that’s something to crack your taco! Prayer is not about OUR strength…but the strength of the God to which we pray! And our God is STRONG! He controls weather…and HE is sending us rain on HIS time! He is bigger than CANCER, or COVID or CONSTRUCTION DELAYS or CONTROVERSY…or whatever it is that you are facing today!
As we celebrate National Day of Prayer, I want you to be reminded of how we started this year! We are a PEOPLE OF PRAYER! And that doesn’t mean WE are perfect and powerful…it means our GOD IS PERFECT AND POWERFUL!
What are you facing today? What is overwhelming you? HOW CAN WE PRAY FOR YOU TODAY? Let’s be a people of prayer…EVERY day!
Shalom Alachiem

Let Me Be Frank… smell

15 Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. 16 To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this?
2 Corinthians 2:15

Chances are you’ve never seen a corpse flower in bloom.  This flower, in it’s natural habitat can grow 10 to 12 feet tall with a bloom diameter of 5 feet.  But, in cultivation, it’s more like 6 to 8 feet in height with a bloom diameter close to eight feet.  It’s impressive to say the least! 

Why is it called a “corpse” flower?  I’m glad you asked.  It’s the smell.  Think “a combination of Limburger cheese, garlic, rotting fish, and smelly feet.”  And according to myriadgradens.org, “the plant is trying hard to attract its native Sumatran pollinators… the precise combination of odors is meant to mimic an exact state of decomposition—something that is not fresh, but not so rotten that it is no longer attractive.”

The flower is beautiful, massive, and awe-inspiring, but it spurs a question in my heart.  How do I smell? 

A scent can travel up to 1500 yards.  That’s about a quarter of a mile.  Our words on social media can go viral and reach 1500 people in a matter of minutes.  But what if our smell is more about surrender and less about scent?

Perfume is also referred to as “smoke” in the Old Testament.  Think of the smoke from incense rising up to the Lord from the altar.  And while the fragrance was for the Lord, others nearby couldn’t help but smell the aroma as well. 

If all we preach in Christ is condemnation then we’re a corpse flower.  We’re trying to bring others to Jesus, but our smell is driving them away.  There is no hope in the message of condemnation and shame, only death and doom. 

There is a better and more excellent way.  Sharing the message of hope and love.  Sharing the story of a Savior who gave His life willingly on the cross in our place. 

I want my life to count.  I want my words and actions to be life-giving.  I want the world to see Jesus Christ in me.  But there are days when my thoughts get caught up in the world.  When I join in the notion that, “the loudest person wins.”  But this is not the way of Christ.  Our fragrance carries further than our words ever will.

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

Something Don’d on Me! don’t wait

If you wait for perfect conditions,
you will never get anything done” 
(Ecclesiastes 11:4 TLB)
VACATION ALERT: Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines announced this week, what it says is the “Longest Cruise in the World!” It sails from Miami next year (leaves December 10, 2023) and will be gone for 271 Days!  The “Ultimate World Cruise” will visit 150 ports in 65 Countries and ALL SEVEN CONTINENTS! You could see Casablanca, Morocco; visit the “Christ the Redeemer” Statue in Rio on New Year’s Eve; Antarctica, the Great Barrier Reef, Spain, India, the Great Wall of China…the Seven Wonders of the World, and so much more! It’s on ship called “Serenade of the Seas” that is 13 decks tall, 3 football fields long, has multiple restaurants, casinos, mini golf, arcade, rock climbing wall, 6 pools, and a spa. Cost for this NINE MONTH EXCURSION…starts at $79,000 per person! Wow! (But you can get a 10% discount if you pay in full by January 2023!)
            But it’s what Michael Bagley, CEO of Royal Caribbean International, said in the announcement that caught my eye. “Coming out of the pandemic, now-more than ever-people have resolved to travel the world and MAKE UP FOR LOST TIME.” The Cruise industry has been battered by the last 2 years and lack of travel, with MANY changes being made to the whole travel trade. This is certainly a “Swing for the Fences” approach to answering that need to “make up for lost time.”
            But “making up for lost time” can entail so much more than “travel.” It can be making up with that family member that you’ve been at odds with for so long. It can be reading that Bible text or that Marriage Enrichment book that you’ve MEANT to do, but just haven’t gotten “around to it.” It can even mean going home earlier, making meals together as a family a priority, praying with your spouse, praying FOR your spouse…or helping out a neighbor.
Life must be lived under imperfect conditions. If the only time you enjoy your spouse is when things are perfect, you’re not ever going to enjoy them. If the only time you enjoy your kids is when things are perfect, you’re never going to enjoy them. If the only time you pray is when you feel like it, the Devil’s going to make sure you never feel like it. Paul even says it differently: “WHENEVER WE HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY…do good to everyone!” (Galatians 6:10)

You have to live your life and enjoy what God’s given you today… in spite of imperfect conditions or circumstances. Stop looking for things to settle down. Don’t wait on “one of these days.” Do it now. Don’t wait…don’t HESITATE…do good for His Kingdom TODAY!
And if you’re looking for an early Christmas present for me, I’m a size “Balcony Suite” in Cruises!
SHALOM-Peace to Your Home,

Let Me Be Frank… (wind)

38 But He (Jesus) was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 And He awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?”
Mark 4:38-41

Have you ever been in a windstorm?  That’s a silly question to ask around these parts.  Of course you have… on any given day there could be a significant gust of wind.  But when this happens we go inside.  At least most of us.  I remember watching a trampoline fly away when I was a few steps away holding cinderblocks in both hands.  I watched it go, went back and set down the cinderblocks, and went back inside.

But the disciples weren’t inside a house, they were inside a boat.  It was evening and Jesus said, “Let’s go across to the other side.”  There was no argument from the others so we can assume that the conditions were fair.  But conditions can change in an instant.

The storm came out of nowhere and the waves were threatening to sink the vessel.  And Jesus was asleep – like REM, deep dreaming sleep.  Or was He?  Either way, the disciples had to shout at Him to rouse Him from His slumber.

Have you ever been in a car in a windstorm?  It feels like the car may lift off the ground.  There’s nowhere to go, unless you can find shelter.  We give the disciples a hard time because they saw Jesus day in and day out and they were still dumbfounded by His miracles.  But we have the Bible.  We have the Holy Spirit.  We have the chronicles of His life on earth.  And, when things get out of control, when our conditions change in an instant, we shout.  “Jesus, don’t You even care that I’m about to drown?”
When Jesus wakes up He doesn’t scold the disciples.  He calms the wind.  But even if He didn’t, what He says next is the part I can’t shake.  “Why are you so afraid?  Have you still no faith?”  Even after everything He’s done.  Even after the times He has proven Himself faithful again and again.  My default seems to be the shout.  “Jesus, don’t you even care that I’m about to drown?”

He does care.  And you’re not going to drown in your current circumstances or situations out of your control when you stay in the boat.  Abide in Christ.  Keep crying out to Him.  Trust in the One who has proven Himself faithful over and over again. 

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

Something Don’d on Me! (prayer)

“Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.” Colossians 4:2
It was one of the most epic trips of a lifetime…there’s NO WAY they would ever forget this!Scriptures said there were 600,000 fighting men…some estimate up that to mean. Up to 2.5 Million people total…but a LARGE group of Israelites crossed through the Jordan River, on dry land! They had heard the stories of their ancestors going through the Red Sea on dry land…but now they were staring at the Jordan River at FLOOD STAGE! They saw the Priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant, and as they got closer to the raging river, they did not stop. They heard all the rumbling of the people and the animals and Mommas holding babies…and I’m sure they wondered, “How are we going to get through THAT?!” But God made a way! When the sandals of the Priests touched the water, THEN the Jordan stopped flowing. Some experts guess that it could have taken 20-30 DAYS to cross the Jordan-with that many people, animals, and supplies! There’s no possible way they would FORGET what they saw there!
It’s what happens AFTER that trip that caught my eye this week! Joshua calls the people together and tells them to pick one man from each of the 12 Tribes to go back out into that riverbed and get a large stone. So, they took a dozen boulders from the middle of the Jordan Basin…and carried them to the shore where they were camping that night. He also took 12 stones from the land and put them in the MIDDLE of the Jordan River where the Priests stood holding the Ark of the Covenant. Two piles of stones…for one purpose…TO REMEMBER!
That seemed a little funny to me…why would I need some rock pile to remind me of this trip?? That was MONUMENTAL! There’s no WAY I will ever forget this day! I tend to get a little “judgy” of the Israelites, until I stop & I breathe, and look in the mirror. And a wave of embarrassment washes over me!
How many times have I FORGOTTEN all the Lord has done for me??? We have prayer requests each week…but do I remember ALL that He has answered? We see bad weather all over the nation…but do I forget all the storms that HAVEN’T hit our home? I whine about gas prices and difficulties in our country…but have I praised God for how many wars have NOT been fought in Portales? I’m so quick to gripe at the Israelites, but not so inspired to look in the mirror, sadly!
Joshua told the people that when your kids ask what these stones are for…you TELL them all the Lord has done! “He did this so all the nations of the earth might know that the Lord’s Hand is powerful, and so you might fear the Lord your God FOREVER!” (Joshua 4:24)
We spent the first 31 days of this month focused on PRAYER. We are sending out Prayer Prompts every Monday morning. We have Prayer Furnace LIVE on Thursdays to lift people up during the week. But am I STOPPING all I’m doing and taking time to THANK HIM for all He has ALREADY done in my life?? If we don’t ACTIVELY remember all God has done for us…we might end up like those Israelites that wandered…and how they forgot His Faithfulness.
Take time RIGHT NOW to list all the ways He HAS come through for you! Our God is FOR YOU! He is on YOUR SIDE! And His Faithfulness endures forever! May we all have an alert mind and a thankful heart!
Shalom, Don

Let Me be Frank… (worship)

1Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.
Psalm 29:1-2

Order is important.  I was reminded of that as I was getting dinner ready.  I was running late (it happens way more than you think) and had finally finished peeling all the potatoes.  I had just enough time to pop them in the oven, but I forgot one crucial detail.  I didn’t preheat said oven.  I missed what should have happened first…
Has that ever happened to you?  Have you missed what should have happened first?  I found myself overwhelmed last week.  Life happens that way…  And I couldn’t understand how to fix the situation.  So instead of worrying I decided to worship.
This sermon series has been eye-opening.  Throughout the series I keep hearing in my head, “You have to build the altar before you build the temple.”  If we miss the order, we focus on what God can do for us, not on who He is.  God gives good gifts, but if that’s all we’re after we’re not surrendering our hearts to Him.
I wrote “Magnify” this last week, but the words had already been penned.  King David wrote them when He reflected on the glory of God in Psalm 29.  “Ascribe to the Lord…”  But what exactly does that mean?
The short answer?  We tell the world how strong God is.  And when we worship, we bow down before the Lord.  We come before Him in humility, acknowledging that apart from Him we can do nothing.
“Magnify” isn’t about asking the Lord for anything.  It’s about giving Him the glory due His Name.  When we praise Him for who He is FIRST we give Him honor.  I don’t want to build a temple and realize it’s not what God wanted.
When I build the altar first, I know what God is after every single time.  He wants my heart.  He wants to change me from the inside.  Have you mixed up the order?  There’s still time to come back. 
“Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His Name!”  Can’t wait to worship with you this weekend!
We are Central… and we’re in this TOGETHER! 

Something Don’d on Me! (important)

“They will fight you, but they will fail. For I am with you, and I will take care of you.
 I, the Lord, have spoken!” -Jeremiah 1:19

It’s amazing to me how many times a simple child’s book or Disney movie says something small…but so profound. Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh are walking along, under branches lit up by the moon. And he casually says to Pooh, “Even if we’re apart, I’ll always be with you.”
If memory serves, Jesus said almost the same thing, but did it a couple thousand years before A.A. Milne. He told His friends that He was going to prepare a place for them. He said He was always with them. And He says it to you and I even today!
To the one that is worried about their kids and school…He is with you. To the one staring at divorce papers…He is with you. To the teacher that is overwhelmed and stressed and trying to figure it out…He is with you. To the Mom who thinks she’s not enough…He is with you. To the Man who is worried about his job…He is with you. To the couple preparing for marriage…to the senior that is not getting to play sports…to the one that is just fed up with all this madness and wants things “back to normal”…
He is with you.
THAT. IS. IMPORTANT! It is important to REMEMBER that! He IS with you! He will NEVER leave you! He will NEVER abandon you! “If ever there is a tomorrow when we’re not together… I am with you!”
Yes, things are crazy right now…and it feels like no one is DOING anything! You want to do something?? Do THAT! Do exactly what Christopher Robin said… “REMEMBER I AM WITH YOU!” Because it’s what Jesus is saying to you right now!
May HIS Peace Be Upon You…and May You Know HIS PRESENCE is with you!
Shalom, Don