Monday, September 20, 2010

Freedom with Jesus...

Some quotes today from Chapter Six of Jesus and Addiction by Don Williams.

"From the study of addiction, it's clear that everyone is in bondage.  For us there is no 'natural' freedom.  Only when God's grace intervenes in our lives and we die and are raised with Christ can we progressively detach ourselves from all the things that had controlled us.  Rather than the bondage of desire, we increasingly experience the freedom of true desire.  This freedom means that we will not turn any substance, process, or relationship into an idol, losing control to anything outside the control of God.  This freedom means that we are now able to think, say, and feel truthfully without fear of abandonment or shame.  This freedom means that down deep in our guts we know that we are loved unconditionally by Jesus and are secure in him for eternity."

"As a result, we can at last love God with all our hearts, souls, and minds, and love our neighbors as ourselves."

"How can we nurture this new freedom?  How can we prevent relapse into addiction and codependency?  First, we must live with Jesus, the only fully free person on this planet, day by day.  As we experience his freedom, we will be set free from our attachments, compulsions, and addictions."

"Jesus found his freedom in open communion with God, serving as a channel for what the Father wanted to accomplish.  Consequently, Jesus was free from any external code.  He had no need to check out how people felt about him in order to know how he felt about himself."

"Unlike addictive and codependent people, Jesus had no illusion that he could control everything.  Because he was submitted to his Father, he didn't have to get control of himself.  This made him free from seeking to control circumstances or people.  Fear of failure, exposure, or of losing his addictive fix weren't hooks for him.  Since Jesus was certain of who he was, he was free from the bondage of human control and expectations.  Instead he was free to love, confront, comfort, heal, and save people."

"Through Jesus' example, we learn that freedom isn't found in autonomy or separation from God.  Real freedom is found in unity and communion with God.  No wonder Jesus says that apart from himself we can do nothing."

--Don Williams, Jesus and Addiction, 1993, Recovery Publications, Inc.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Oregon Trail...

Tina and I recently made a trip into Wyoming to see some sights and to visit the place where we first met.  We have just completed 25 years of marriage and it seemed fitting to visit the space where it all began for us.  I love history and so our two-day trip focused on seeing some historical sites.  The picture is of me walking along some wagon ruts that were cut into the rock by the thousands of emigrants moving west along the Oregon Trail.  This is near Guernsey, Wyoming which is not a place that you will ever find unless you happen to be going there.  It's amazing to me that the trail still remains--after all of these years.  It was no easy task to make the trek across the plains and mountains to the promised land of Oregon, Californa, or even Utah.  It was often a deadly pursuit and only the stoutest arrived to begin a new life.  The pioneers would travel maybe 12-20 miles a day hoping to slip through a narrow window of good weather that would allow them to cross the mountains before the winter snows began.  I'm learning a couple of things from the Oregon Trail emigrants.  First of all, there is a trail for all of us to follow--we don't have to make our own way.  Others have gone before us and we can learn much from their journey.  Secondly, we don't travel alone.  The emigrants relied on the multiplicity of gifts contained in a wagon train in order to overcome the constant obstacles in their path.  In the same way we have fellow travelers joining us--gifted in their unique ways--working together to move forward to our common goal.  Thirdly, there are others coming behind us who will benefit from our experiences and signs of life that we leave behind.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Rebuilding & Restoring...

Allow me to share some quotes from the final chapter of Gordon MacDonald's book, Rebuilding Your Broken World.

"When you have been pushed or have fallen to the ground, there can be only one useful resolve:  GET UP AND FINISH THE RACE!"

"In recent years we've spent enormous amounts of energy asking how the church in the West might find renewal.  We've sought the answers in the pursuit of powerful preaching, evangelistic marketing programs group dymamics, and upbeat, contemporary public services.  Perhaps there is virtue in all of that.  But I would like to propose that if we were to rediscover the ministry of restorative grace, we might find an enormous number of people crowding forward to receive what God has offered to give through Jesus Christ.  There, in the ministry of restoration, may be a key to renewal.  Both inside and outside the church are broken-world people, and they are there in no small numbers.  They yearn for an understanding and wise ear; they dearly wish for an amnesty that would provide the chance to make things right and new.  If their spirit is right, they are not asking that their sins be diminished or overlooked; they are not asking that people pretend that nothing has happened.  What they seek is what the cross of Christ offered:  grace freely given; healing fully applied; usefulness restored"

"The objective of rebuilding a broken world is not returning life to business-as-usuual as if nothing had ever happened.  That could never be.  No, the objective is to come out of a dark time and finish the race with a depth of grace and humility that might not have happened under any other circumstance.  We broken-world people live with a strange irnony.  Not for one moment would we ever wish to repeat what caused the original collapse.  But we cannot ignore the fact that when restoration has had its way, we may be in a better position to offer insight and grace to others than we ever were before . . . Broken-world people are equipped now to understand other struggling people.  We know how to give grace because we have received it"

"Back in 1923 I once ran an invitational race (one mile) with Joey Ray and Ray Watson.  We three were members of the relay team that set the world record for the four mile relay held for over twenty years.  These two had a better time than I by three or four seconds.  They never beat me in a race; I never did well without competition.  Anyhow in this race we three were running along at a mile rate together--the first lap, then the second lap.  I suddenly hit a branch of a tree, a solid branch, (with) my left shoulder.  It was a terrible blow and stopped me cold.  The blow almost knocked me out.  For two or three seconds I could not think.  I cannot remember whether it knocked me on to the ground, but it knocked me out of my running place, stopped me cold.  I remember trying ot figure out what I should do next.  How could I ever catch them--should I bother to stay in the race.  Everyone would understand that the blow by the tree branch knocked me out.  Somehow I staggered back on the track and stumbled along.  I can see them (now) many, many yards ahead of me.  But I remember one clear conclusion.  I must keep going--even if I come in long behind.  I must not quit.  So I kept going.  I won the race.  This then is the lesson I learned:  whatever the difficulty--the blow--we must keep on.  God will lead to the result that will glorify Him"  --Dr. Raymond Buker in a letter to Gordon MacDonald.

"And some who are the most gifted in the things of God will stumble in those days and fall, but this will only refine and cleanse them and make them pure until the final end of all their trials, at God's appointed time" (Daniel 11:35, TLB).

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Grace River's First Day at Severance Middle School

Check out the pictures and commentary of our first Sunday at Severance Middle School at

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Missing My Mom Today...

My wife and I were out at Windsor's Main Park setting up our church's display for the Harvest Festival that is held in our community each year.  This weekend is always sentimenal to me because it was this time five years ago that my mother suffered a massive heart attack and went home to heaven.  Tina and I were in Galveston at the time preparing to take a cruise in celebration of twenty years of marriage.  My parents were crafters and made it their custom to be in Windsor for the Harvest Festival.  Each year they would set their booth up on the east side of Main Park and sell their sand-blasted scripture signs.  The Harvest Festival, the park, the activity, all remind me of how much I miss my mom.  Below is the obituary from her hometown newspaper, The Floyd County Heperion-Beacon.


Memorial services for Mona Samples, 69, of Helena, Montana were held Wednesday, September 7, 2005 at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Windsor, Colorado. Her son, David Samples, Pastor of the church, officiated. The body was cremated and a separate memorial service will be held in Helena, Montana. Arrangements were under the direction of Marks Funeral Service of Windsor, Colorado.

Mrs. Samples died Saturday, September 3, 2005 in Windsor, Colorado.

She was born October 23, 1935 in Floydada to the late Raymond and Blanche Ramsey Williams. She graduated Floydada High School and received her B.A. degree from the University of Wyoming. She married Ted Samples in Floydada January 26, 1953. She and Rev. Samples were Southern Baptist Missionaries for twenty years. She was a housewife, mother and artist. She was active in Baptist Women's work.

They also served as beloved pastor and wife of Grace Fellowship Church in Lockney. During this time both she and Rev. Samples also worked for MHMR in Plainview. After retiring, they owned and operated Christian Crafts in Lockney, where they designed and created sandblasted wooden signs. They also travelled the Craft Show circuit selling their signs and ministering to the others there. They moved to Montana and were living in Helena.

Mrs. Samples is survived by her husband, Ted Samples of Helena, Montana; two daughters, Sandra Evans of Seattle, Washington and Cynthia Stauffenberg of Helena; two sons, Mike Samples of Reno, Nevada and David Samples of Windsor, Colorado; nine grandchildren; one great-grandchild; and one sister, Carolyn Ramazani of Lubbock.