Archive for the ‘Mighty to Save’ Category


“Mr. Owl, how many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?”

“Well, let’s see…”

I was clearing thru some old files in my office recently, and the memories came flooding back.

Hard decisions, some public, some handled and then buried….good decisions that no one truly understood….and the amazing love and generosity of others.

As referenced before, I work for a non profit organization. The generosity of others is often our life’s blood. Some of our donors go to great lengths to ensure that very few ever know what they have done. “Never let your left hand know what your right hand’s doing”; I think that’s how the saying goes.

How many people have prayed for a million dollars? How many people have prayed for $3 million? How many people prayed for a pot of money and really ever expected to get it? It has been over 10 years since the events unfolded, but I will confess to being in these categories. Times were tough for our organization. We had plans, we had backup plans, and we had parachutes. It seemed as if the plane was going down, and plans A, B, and C had fallen through. We were past the point of anyone parachuting to safety. Finally, I chose to begin my pre dawn arrival at the office on my knees, head down in the desk chair. “God, we need a lot of money, and we need it very soon…”.

The prayer ended shortly thereafter, and the day began. There were conversations, there were phone calls, and there were visits. What was once viewed as a distant relationship, an old friendship, years removed and separated by hundreds of miles parlayed itself into $3 million arriving in our organization’s account within 10 days.

True story. Even truer are the words penned many years ago by William Cowper:

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sov’reign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow’r.

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

So, how many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?

Like many of the encounters and generous acts of the anonymous faithful, the world may never know.


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Great morning drive lyrical message today from Shawn McDonald. As many awoke today to different issues, be they broken roofs/shingles, or broken hearts, I hope words like these ring true.

Yes I will rise
Out of these ashes rise
From this trouble I have found
And this rubble on the ground
I will rise
Cause He Who is in me
Is greater than I will ever be
And I will rise

Sometimes my heart is on the ground
And hope is nowhere to be found
Love is a figment I once knew
And yet I hold on to what I know is true

Yes I will rise
Out of these ashes rise
From this trouble I have found
And this rubble on the ground
I will rise
Cause He Who is in me
Is greater than I will ever be
And I will rise

Well I keep on coming to this place
That I don’t know quite how to face
So I lay down my life in hopes to die
That somehow I might rise

Yes I will rise
Out of these ashes rise
From this trouble I have found
And this rubble on the ground
I will rise
Cause He Who is in me
Is greater than I will ever be
And I will rise

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“God is subtle, but He is not malicious. I cannot believe that God plays dice with the world.” – Albert Einstein.

I’ve long thought that to be true, but now wonder if He is not often times speaking to us more directly. Take a random walk with me, and see if you agree.

Many of us recall the “Rocky” movie franchise. He started his saga in the slums of Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love. The movie details him out running past a group of likely unemployed young men standing on a street corner singing “Take it Back”. Four movies later, some good, some less than good, and Rocky is back in the same neighborhood, a rags to riches to rags scenario, but he is still “Rocky Balboa” at the core, albeit changed by time, experience, and the impact of money.

I have experienced in the past 24 hours what I’ll dub “the day of diatribes”, polite though they may have been. This may or may not be considered just one more of the same by the time you finish this reading.

The first diatribe was by a Facebook friend protesting the use of the American flag as a form of forced advertising by a local realtor who placed them in every yard as far as the eye can see.

The second diatribe hit a little closer to home. It was written by a youth minister in Texas about the problem of increasing costs in higher education, specifically private faith based education, and the amount of debt it takes for many to get an undergraduate degree. The university for which I work’s mission statement is “Transforming Lives for faith, scholarship, and service.” Trust me when I say we do not intend for that to be “debt service”, and are listening and seeking solutions to the broad based problem of the higher education industry making our experience affordable and relevant. Pardon my digression from the topic at hand.

The third diatribe dealt with the problem of sensationalism and desensitizing in our mass media, all to get attention and “viewership”. It is a well written piece about things that are good and true, and you can read it at http://www.reddirtchronicles.com/2011/06/rdc-editorial-whatever-is-good-true-beautiful/

The fourth piece, more a reflection than a diatribe, was a personal look at living a purposeful life, and not a life of “Shadow Purposes” as we are so prone to do in this rich society. It can be read at http://www.reddirtchronicles.com/2011/06/chasing-my-shadow-purpose/

The final referenced piece in the “24 hours of diatribes” was my own, preceding this one, mind you. I read an article this morning about the NBA lockout and some of the quotes in a war of mega millionaires fighting mega millionaires over who gets the bigger share of the billions being offered by the masses at the alter of modern day entertainment. I love the NBA, but this article made me mad, and I suspect it will do the same for many fans as what promises to be a protracted labor negotiation fight plays out.

To paraphrase author Donald Miller, I think we all have forgotten that we are just trees in a story about a forest. The forest may be on fire all around us, but we are too focused on the near surroundings and our own concerns to notice.

The global economy appears to be badly broken. We have “stored up treasures on earth, where moth and rust corrupt, and where thieves break in and steal” (Matt. 6:19) and need to be prepared for a different day and age, even within the lifespan of some current generations. The economic storm is raging as we speak in benefit rich European society, and the tsunami is racing toward us across the Atlantic even now. Societies are in debt up to their eyeballs; we are soft; we are spoiled. And fundamental societal things are changing. We are aging. The balance of trade and who makes and who buys is evolving. Health care is a concern. The U.S. Government won’t be able to pay for it all or fix all that ailes us. All the while, I fear we are standing on the beach arguing over who gets the bigger share of sandbags while we should be moving to higher ground to stay safely out of the coming wake.

Our societies often have found themselves in these moments in history, and it seems they are often ultimately resolved by fighting a war. The U.S. War for Independence; the French Revolution; the U.S. Civil War; WWI; WWII; the Middle East conflicts. Its about a groundswell of the masses when they can’t get what they want and need, and when the establishment is out of touch. We may be entering another “let them eat cake” moment, I fear. Get the picture?

I think the establishment may be catching on. One of the more telling advertisements running on TV today is “More Saving: More Doing; That’s the power of the Home Depot”. We need to realize that David Stanley (OKC auto dealer) does not really lead the way. The Mathes Brothers may have “our style at our price”, but they will never know us by name.

As I began to pour these random reflections down and try to tie them together cohesively, I looked through the “categories and tags” section of my blog site, and a huge percentage of those previously used seemed strikingly relevent. Take a look at all those listed at the end of this and see if you agree.

After an early morning of pondering these thoughts, I got into the car to come to the office and was immediately presented with “Awakening” by Switchfoot playing on my car radio. God is subtle, indeed, and He was speaking right to me.

Face down with the L.A. curbside endings
In ones and zeros
Downtown was the perfect place to hide

The first star that I saw last night
Was a headlight of a man-made sky
But man-made never made our dreams collide, collide

Here we are now with the falling sky and the rain
We’re awakening
Here we are now with the desperate youth and pain
We’re awakening

Maybe it’s called ambition
You’ve been talking in your sleep about a dream
We’re awakening

Last week saw me living for nothing but deadlines
With my dead beat sky
But this town doesn’t look the same tonight

These dreams started singing to me out of nowhere
And all my life I don’t know
That I’ve ever felt so alive, alive

Here we are now with the falling sky and the rain
We’re awakening
Here we are now with the desperate youth and pain
We’re awakening

Maybe it’s called ambition
You’ve been talking in your sleep about a dream
We’re awakening

I wanna wake up kicking and screaming
I wanna wake up kicking and screaming
I wanna know that my heart’s still beating
It’s beating, I’m bleeding

I wanna wake up kicking and screaming
I wanna live like I know what I’m leaving
I wanna know that my heart’s still beating
It’s beating, it’s beating, it’s beating, I’m bleeding

Here we are now with the falling sky and the rain
We’re awakening
Here we are now with the desperate youth and pain
We’re awakening

Maybe it’s called ambition
But you’ve been talk, talking in your sleep about a dream
We’re awakening
Dream, we’re awakening

So, where do we go from here, in this digital community, and in each of our own “cities of brotherly love”? Maybe we are a little like that prizefighter who has gone one or two rounds too far, and needs to reset. What is our task? More saving, more doing? Maybe. Less spending, more doing? Likely. More sharing, more caring? Absolutely. Heightened attention spans are in order. We’re awakening. The bar is raised. A groundswell is happening all around us, and a tsunami may (or may not) be headed are way. Let’s move to higher ground and be ready.

Take me back.

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I heard this song on the radio during the drive and drop to school and work yesterday. Great lyric vault moment reminder of the blessings from one another, and the realization of this world’s shortcomings, as our friends and neighbors recover from loss:

We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love is way too much to give us lesser things

‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough

All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not our home

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise

Blessings. Lyrics by Laura Story.

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Rap sheet – the daily written record of events (as arrests) in a police station
charge sheet, day book, police blotter, blotter written account, written record – a written document preserving knowledge of facts or events.

Yesterday, Saturday May 21st 2011, was a good day. It began early; very early. As H came in from a goodbye for now moment, the family assembled in the living room shortly after midnight to share a moment, a few tears, and several laughs. As the day progressed we shared events, beautiful weather, and good time together. Only two things served to put a damper on the day, one inconsequential, and the other of much greater significance. You see, the Oklahoma City Thunder lost their game, and Jesus did not come back.

Allow me to explain. You see, some “preacher”, somewhere, called for Saturday to be “The Rapture”, the Apocalypse, and the end of the world, as we know it. The prediction was the source of much discussion, much debate, and quite a bit of ridicule, even by Christians; even by me. You see, Matthew 24:42-44 tells us:“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”

No matter what our differing opinions are on the subject matter of “The Rapture”, we don’t know when Christ will return, but as Christians, we know He will, and that we are to be watchful and ready, everyday. By the end of the day yesterday, and following some playful Facebook friend banter regarding “what, you are still here” humor, I began to feel a bit guilty.

It did not get much better this morning, almost as if the Holy Spirit wanted to remind us of a few things. A friend and I were discussing the day, and the phrase “I halfway wanted Jesus to come back that day” was uttered, and then caught and recanted almost as quickly a it was uttered. “That’s not how I intended that…”. Point taken, from both viewpoints.

We went to class before the worship service today, and the pre assigned material was 2 Timothy 3. It reads like quite a rap sheet: “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God– having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

I now think I see the words of Jesus from Matthew 24 in a whole new light: “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God”.

The teacher in our class this morning even replayed the issue: “I think we were pretty safe yesterday”. Safe? From what? Being taken from this life? Getting to go to Paradise, to be at home with our Creator?

I think our challenge, my challenge, is to not short change Jesus’ promised return as “not today” just because we don’t know the day. There is nothing in this life or on this earth to make waiting one more minute, hour, or day worth it. To believe anything different is to buy into Satan’s lies.

We are rich, indeed, both in this age and land, but more rich from His promises. Someday, they will be fulfilled, they will be wonderful, and we’ve got to be ready.

We closed this Sunday morning with the following song, and it was the perfect reminder:

Someday, Someday, Someday, Someday

Peace and joy and happiness,
no more sorrow, someday.

Gotta be ready when he calls my name
Gotta be ready when he calls my name
Gotta be ready when he calls my name

The Trumpets will sound,
And all the dead shall rise,
We’ll walk the streets of gold,

Amen. LORD, come quickly. Hallelujah.

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Some young friends from Japan arrived home today after spending several months with our university in the United States.

Our thoughts and prayers are with them as they and their homeland recover and prepare to rebuild. As with many things in life, the days ahead may seem as hard as climbing Mt Fuji, and we pray that God’s hand, peace, and conquering power rain down on them.


He can move the mountains

My God is mighty to save

He is mighty to save


Author of Salvation

He rose & conquered the grave

Jesus conquered the grave.

(lyrics by Hillsong)

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