Thursday, December 22, 2011

Go Tell the Church!

An important excerpt from Jesus and Addiction by Don Williams

In my former church a couple vanished for several weeks from a large adult Sunday school class. Finally, some concerned friends went to their house and were met at the door by the wife. After an exchange of pleasantries, she revealed that her husband was suicidal and had admitted himself to the psychiatric ward of a local hospital. While his wife appreciated the visit, as it ended, she gravely asked, "Please don't tell the church. It would be too embarrassing, too humiliating." Rather than crying out, "Please tell the church, we need prayer and love now as never before," she silenced these friends out of her fear of exposure and judgment. She was more afraid of the self-righteousness that plagued the church than she was of suffering alone.

A new Church, however, is emerging: a Church that welcomes suffering people just as they are. The new Church lives grace, grace, grace. In it addictions to substances, processes, and people are confronted. Codependency is admitted rather than admired. The new Church is found where God will fill the hole in the soul with himself. This is a Church where generational sin is broken, environmental sin is overcome, and personal sin is forgiven. This is a Church where the false self dies and abandonment ends. The new Church is where our being wound is healed.

The new Church is centered in the fearless, free, and self-giving Jesus, where Jesus' agenda for ministry is pursued, love is unconditional, and human control is surrendered. This a Church under the control of the Spirit.

This is a Church where all are addicts and are taking responsibility for their recovery, where a fresh, real commitment is born. This is a Church where sin is inventoried, confessed, and forgiven, where people are healed and delivered and amends are made. This is a Church where prayer and meditation prosper.

This Church is filled with praise, prayer, and the gifts of the Spirit. Here the cross is preached and tithes are paid.

This is a Church where love is extended, accountability is demanded, and relationships prosper, where the lost are found, the poor are clothed, and the hungry are fed. This is a Church that is taking the good news to the nations.

Where this Church is emerging, people who are caught in crisis, bound in shame, fearful of judgment, addicted and despairing can cry out, "Go tell the Church." Such a Church will respond by offering a flood of grace, water for the thirsty, bread for the hungry, refuge for the abused, deliverance for the addict, and love for all.

The new Church is Jesus' Church. he designed it and called it into being. It is the choir for his worship. It is the family for his love. It is the weapon for his warfare. It is the Church--militant in its suffering. It is the Church--triumphant in his return.

Are you weary? Fed up? Famished? Faint-hearted? Helpless? Hopeless? Lonely? Empty? Lost? Trapped?

Go tell the Church.



--Don Williams, Jesus and Addiction

Stanley on Christmas

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I Love This Song!



This song gives me goose bumps everytime that I listen to it. Those of us who have experienced the overwhelming grace of God who has freed us from every sin and who has allowed us to stand in the righteousness of Christ can celebrate the freedom that is in Christ Jesus. I am free!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation

Thanksgiving Proclamation

[New York, 3 October 1789]


By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor-- and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be-- That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks--for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation--for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war--for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed--for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted--for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions-- to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually--to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed--to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord--To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us--and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.


Go: Washington

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Self-Giving Worship

What follows is taken entirely from, "Self-Giving Worship", Don Williams, Jesus and Addiction.

In the addictive church, people come to worship in order to get rather than to give. As users, their preoccupation is, "What's in it for me? Do I enjoy the aesthetics? Are people friendly to me? Do I like the music? Am I inspired by the choir? Does the preaching feed me? Is the pastor friendly? Does the pastor know my name?" Such pious expectations about our spiritual growth barely hide our full-blown narcissism. Often I hear people say, "I'm going to another church. My needs aren't being met here." Whatever the merits of this complaint, it has nothing to do with worship. The reason is simple.

Worship is not getting; worship is giving. The word worship in Hebrew means "to fall down, to surrender, to submit," as in a slave or subject bowing low before a mighty king. The word in Greek means "to come toward to kiss." This kiss is not an act of intimacy, it is an act of submission, as in kissing the ground before a sovereign, or kissing his feet.

Worship is the basis for a life of self-giving; it is surrendering ourselves to God. Consider Psalm 95:6: "Come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker," or Psalm 99:5: "Exalt the Lord our God, And worship at His footstool; Holy is He."

In the New Testament we are called to worship as priests. There is no clergy class. (See 1 Pet. 2:5) All believers belong to this priesthood. Like Israel, we are not to come to God empty-handed. Slaughtered sheep, goats, or bulls, however, are no longer acceptable sacrifice. The last bloody sacrifice was made on the cross by Jesus. What then are we to bring?

1. First, as priests, we are to give God our bodies (Romans 12:1).
2. Second, we are to bring God our praise (Psalm 100:4; Hebrews 13:15).
3. Third, we are to give our prayers in intercession (Hebrews 4:16).
4. Fourth, we are to bring our tithes and offerings to God (Malachi 3:8-10).
5. Fifth, as priests we are to bring God our acts of mercy as a part of our worship (Hebrews 13:16; 1 John 3:17; Matthew 25:40).
6. Sixth, self-giving worship includes evangelism (Romans 15:15-16).

David Crowder*Band - How He Loves



This is one of the songs that saved my life when I was going through a deep deep darkness a few years back. "I don't have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way..."

Monday, November 21, 2011

Steve Ramsey

I'm in a bit of a funk today.  I'm in the process of saying "goodbye" to a dear friend who has been with me through some deep waters.  There was a time when my heart was immune to such emotion and I could leave friends or see them leave and I would just suppress the emptiness that is a part of the separating process.  I'm much healthier now and I feel the full impact of the loss.  I don't like it much but I'm learning to see the painful feelings as legitimate.  Better to feel loss, then to never feel at all.  One of the lines that I often share with those who are grieving is that the pain that it is felt is simply a measure of their love.  That being said, I love this friend a bunch!

I'm saying goodbye to a good friend, a coworker, and a pastor, who has helped me carry the burden of our new church plant--Grace River.  Steve Ramsey is the friend who has talked me out of quitting multiple times.  He is the guy that I shared lunches with once a week for almost two years.  He has helped to clarify my weaknesses and he has encouraged my strengths.  I have laughed with him until I've cried, and I have cried with him until...I didn't need to cry anymore.  Steve is, what must be the definition of, a good friend.  And I will miss him greatly.

 Steve is headed back home to Arkansas where his parents are in need of his care and assistance as they face the challenges of growing older and weaker.  It appears that in God's timing, they now need him more than I do.  I am so very grateful for the times that we shared together.  I've been blessed!  I love you Steve!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Case of the Missing Wallet

I am trying to be more discerning of the Holy Spirit's voice.  My motive is simple: #1--I want to help people.  #2--I want to see the miraculous.  With that in mind, I am taking more risks when it comes to acting out on what I think the Spirit may be saying.  It's sad to say--but I'm still a rookie when it comes to the work of God--I'm just starting to learn.

About eight months ago, I was visiting in the home of some friends who are part of the foundation of Grace River.  As we talked about church, health, and life, Mrs J brought up that she could not find Mr. J's wallet and that she feared that she had accidentally thrown it away in the trash.  Anyone who has ever lost a wallet knows the crisis that this is.  A wallet contains numerous important items that cannot easily be replaced: drivers license, credit cards, medical cards, etc.  Since I'm practicing hearing from God, I took this as a great opportunity.  I love Mr. and Mrs. J dearly and I've found that love is a really good platform from which to hear from God.  I could empathize with the loss of the wallet and the distress that Mrs. J was feeling.  And so, with love in my heart and love in my head, I simply asked the father quietly under my breath to let us know where the wallet was.  I assured God of my love for the J's and my love for Him and that it would simply be wonderful if He would release Mrs. J from her worry by allowing the wallet to be found.  The first thing that came into my mind as I was praying was, "look in the drawer".  I spoke kind of cautiously, and suggested that I thought that maybe God was telling me to tell Mrs. J to go and look in a drawer and that she would find the wallet.  As I recall, I said it a few times--really trying to encourage Mrs. J to go and look--but she wouldn't.  She had already looked everywhere and she was unwilling to look anymore.  Listen, I understand that completely.  In fact, I was not offended at all that she wouldn't look--maybe I was relieved that she wouldn't look since that would save me the embarrassment of the wallet not being where I said it was.

Move the clock forward eight months.  Mrs. J stood in church a few weeks ago and testified that some months ago she and Mr. J could not find his wallet.  She shared that recently she had been doing some in depth house cleaning and that she came across the wallet....in a drawer. 

By the time of her testimony, I had forgotten all about it.  But Mrs. J had not and she shared with the church that I had told her where it was eight months ago but that she didn't look.  Isn't that awesome?  I love our God and I love the way that He expresses His love--sometimes through the miraculous!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

What to Expect at Church

What follows is mostly a summary of direct quotations with an occasional paraphrase on my part.  The work belongs to Don Williams and is shared from his book, Jesus and Addiction - A Prescription to Transform the Dysfunctional Church and Recover Authentic Christianity, Recovery Publications, San Diego, 1993.  On pages 170-174, Williams describes the "Freedom in Community" that we should expect in a fellowship of Christ-followers.

I intend to share these eight values tomorrow morning in my message from John 1:1-5 that I've titled, "REBEGINNING - It's not to late to start over..."

"The values that form the core of God's family are liberating values"

1. We enjoy the authority of being adopted into God's family.  We belong and can never be alienated.

2. We find a new identify.  We are identified by our new Father and by our new brothers and sisters.  We are accepted and can never be rejected.

3. We have a new security.  As members of God's family, we have been given the keys to the entire kingdom.  We can never be locked out.  We can risk sharing our thoughts, our feelings, our stuff, and our lives because we are finally secure.

4.  We can live honestly by respecting each others thoughts and feelings.  We are free to know ourselves and each other.  There is no abusive control--no party line to parrot.

5.  We live together in a nurturing environment that is determined by love.  Love builds up!  It is emotional support under girded by tender-hearted kindness that seeks our benefit.

6.  God's family life includes discipline.  We are free from the old self-destructive chaos.  We are free to live responsibly.  We can and must speak the truth in love to each other while owning the impact of our words.

7.  We care for each others physical needs.  We are free to give.

8.  Rather than sick dependency, our family goal is to grow up into maturity.  This means achieving a healthy interdependency.

Church is Healthy!

If you are feeling down or if you are feeling somewhat cranky--Go to church!

CNN reports, "A new study shows that attending religious services regularly can mean a more optimistic, less depressed, and less cynical outlook on life".

"According to the report, to be published this week in the Journal of Religion and Health, those who attend services frequently were 56% more likely to have an optimistic life outlook than those who don't and were 27% less likely to be depressed. Those who attended weekly were less likely to be characterized by cynical hostility, compared with those who did not report any religious service attendance".

"'We looked at a number of psychological factors; optimism, depression, cynical hostility, and a number of subcategories and subscales involving social support and social strain,' said Eliezer Schnall an associate professor of psychology at Yeshiva University in Manhattan, who headed the initiative."

Read the entire article at the CNN Belief Blog found here.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Happy Veteran's Day!

I am proud to have served my country in the very small way that I did. I have never felt as much pride as I did when I wore the uniform of the United States Navy. There are some things that cannot be experienced outside of the military.  I am so glad that I know what it feels like to salute the flag of the United States.  I'm glad that I know what it feels like to march with a unit, to share the Navy tradition, and to be included with nation's finest. I'll spend my Veteran's Day seeking out those who have protected our freedoms and letting them know how very grateful I am.  Happy Veteran's Day!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Couldn't be Prouder!

Grace River is not quite two years old.  We'll celebrate our 2nd birthday on December 13th.  I couldn't be prouder of the people that make up Grace River.  We've been on an amazing journey that has taken us through seven different locations already in our young life together.  I'm prompted to brag about her one more time, I guess, because the days that we are currently experiencing may be our best yet.  For two weeks in a row, we have broken the 110 mark in attendance.  There is an excitement and an expectation when we get together that creates and electric atmosphere in the room.  We have a ton of kids and great leadership to teach them each week.  The worship team is the best that I have ever had at any church.  They are passionate, prayerful, and transparent in their worship.  Our prayer team also numbers more participants than any church that I have been involved in leadership.  We are a praying people.  We have multiple ministries that are surfacing from the ground up--born of the passion of our members.  Each week, testimonies of the miraculous work of God are freely shared and applauded.  It would truly be unusual if we didn't hear about a miracle.  We're celebrating the new families that God is bringing to us each week and we're considering the new gifts that they are bringing to the mix that will help to take Grace River to the next level.  We've baptized twenty-seven people in these two years with more on the way.  I truly believe that this is the work that I was created for.  I couldn't be prouder!

You can keep us with Grace River in words and pictures at http://www.observing-grace.blogspot.com/
Read more about who we are and what we are doing at http://www.chasingrace.org/.
We would love to friend you at Facebook.  I would also invite you follow me on Twitter.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Civil Wars - Poison & Wine - David Letterman 10-26-11



I didn't stay up to watch them last night--can't say the last time I watched Letterman. Anyway, I really like these guys. I'm familiar with Joy Williams from CCM fame. I strangely find myself identifying with the song Poison & Wine. The best I can tell, it's because many of my relationships throughout my life have contained a mix of bitter and sweet, of poison and wine. "I don't love you and I always will"--great line!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Rich Mullins - Elijah



Elijah by Rich Mullins remains one of my favorite songs of all time. I'm teaching on Elijah today and so I was reminded of the song. I think I like it because it's sad, yet hopeful. This world is not all there is--thankfully. Elijah saw God perform some of His greatest miracles through his life and yet we find that Elijah has times of despair, depression, and even suicidal thoughts. Ironically, though Elijah would beg God to take his life--Elijah would never taste death. Rather, God sent a chariot of flames to rescue Him from this earth. Enjoy!

Friday, October 21, 2011

God Opened a Door--Literally!

Something pretty special happened to me today--it's happened once before several years ago.  Today I got a phone call about 11:30 telling me that one of my friends had locked their keys in their car and they were wondering if I could take them to Fort Collins to get a spare key.  I agreed and went to pick up my friend who happened to be at our local hardware store.  He jumped in my car and we drove to his house in Fort Collins discussing the whole way trials and difficulties.  He remembered that I had recently written on patience and was wondering if perhaps God was telling him to slow down today.  The situation got a little graver when we reached his house.  After searching for several minutes, he returned to the car telling me that he couldn't find the key--it wasn't where it was supposed to be.  This makes sense in that my friend is in the middle of a move.  However, it made his situation a little more desperate.  We talked about solutions on the way back to his car including calling to see if the police could get him in, calling his insurance company to get a locksmith, and maybe even throwing a brick through a window (this last one was not seriously considered...lol).  I also remembered a time several years ago when I was in a situation where someone locked their keys inside a UHaul truck.  It was one of those impossible situations where if the door was not opened--it was going to be a very long wait.  Having checked the two doors to truck multiple times, I offered a prayer and tried again.  The driver-side door opened right up!  I shared that story with him but neither of us were seriously considering the "faith" option.  Arriving back at his car, I told him that I would walk around the vehicle and prayerfully check the doors one more time for him.  He started walking into the hardware store to seek out further help.  I began with the back hatch of his van, praying, "God, my friend really needs his keys.  He doesn't need to spend money on a locksmith.  It would be really cool if you just unlocked the door for him".  The back hatch was locked and didn't open.  The next door I checked was the side sliding door on the driver's side.  It didn't open.  The driver's side door was also locked.  I moved around to the passenger side still praying my prayer--nothing--still locked.  Finally, I reached the last door and I will assure you that I had no belief that the door would open--none of the others had and I didn't expect this one to either.  I prayed my prayer--grabbed the door handle--pulled--and miraculously the door opened.  The alarm sounded--he turned around slightly shocked as to what might be happening.  I climbed in, grabbed his keys out of the ignition, silenced the alarm, and then announced that the door was open and showed him the keys in my hand.  He was speechless...lol.  What an amazing God we serve!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Happy 79th Birthday to my Dad!

My dad turned 79 today.  He is an awesome man of God who has been used by God in many places.  He was planting churches before it was cool to do so.  A quick list of the places where he has served include:
  • Kimball, Nebraska
  • Douglas, Wyoming
  • Wolf Point, Montana
  • Fort Yates, North Dakota
  • Cannonball, South Dakota
  • Fort Washakie, Wyoming
  • Menominee, Michigan
  • Plainview, Texas
  • Lockney, Texas


Sunday, September 18, 2011

New Grace River Pictures

The latest pictures from our worship at Grace River are posted at http://www.observing-grace.blogspot.com/.  Today we had the honor of ordaining two of our pastors, Joey Scott and Derek Donahoe.  We also had a chili cookoff--I didn't win...again.  These last two weeks have been really special.  It's hard to explain but there is excitement that is even beyond what we normally experience.  Grace River is not a dull church to begin with--but recently we have really experienced the empowering of the Spirit among us.  We're drawing new families and drawing closer together as a family.  These are exciting days at Grace River!

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

26 Years

26 years ago today, Tina and I pledged our lives together in marriage at the Woodland Baptist Church in Jackson, Tennessee.  We were both young and naive.  But somehow, in good times and bad, in sickness and in health, we have managed to build a life together.  We stated on our wedding invitations that we were blending our lives in marriage believing that God could do more with us together than He could with us as individuals.  It's been very true that our lives and our ministries have complemented each other.  Those who know us, know that we work together--it's not always pretty--but we do work together...lol.  Thanks to all of you  have walked beside us throughout these past 26 years.  Some who read this will have known us long enough to have actually attended our wedding way back when.  Since then, we've served six churches together and we've lived in five different communities in three different states.  Happy Anniversary!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Discovering Communion...

This past Sunday, I was setting up the communion table in the back of the middle school cafeteria where we meet each week.  One of our new ladies approached with curiosity and asked, "What's that?".  I answered, "Communion--we're going to receive communion today".  She immediately asked again, "What's that?".  I gave her a brief explanation of the Lord's Supper and what it was all about.  She then asked, "Can you show me where that is in the Bible so that I can read about it?".  Almost immediately, the best friend of this lady also walked into the room, saw the table, and asked, "What's that?".  Within minutes both ladies were seated at a table, Bibles opened, reading for the first time about Jesus' gift of communion.  Later, during the service when we were gathered as a church around the table, I couldn't help but watch with wonder as these two ladies received for the very first time these symbols of Jesus' sacrifice.  This coming Sunday, we will celebrate another first for these ladies when both of them will be baptized, along with others, in a backyard swimming pool.  We met these ladies, when in the sovereignty of God, our church was led to meet at the Severance Middle School.  You see, one of the ladies is the person who opens and shuts the building for us each week.  At first she would open the building, leave, and then return to lock up when we were finished.  Gradually she began staying longer and returning earlier until after several months, she began staying for the entire service.  And then she brought her best friend--and now they both have been attending every week ever since.  To me, the story is absolutely miraculous!  I've told them that most people go and find a church to attend.  However, they must be very special to God, in order for Him to go to all of the trouble of bringing a church to them!  These ladies illustrate the purpose and mission of Grace River--to be a safe place where anyone can come as they are and find hope and healing.  They also clearly illustrate the great love that the Father has for each of his children.  I'm glad that God has allowed Grace River to be a church without walls so that He can take us wherever we are needed.  More are waiting...

Saturday, August 13, 2011

GROWTH

Each morning, I am guided in my time of  prayer through a simple system that I developed years ago.  I have posted about that before in a blog entitled, "How to Be Heard in Heaven".  Like all systems, it is simply a tool to use and the way that I use it has continued to evolve through the years.  I invite you to use it and to make it your own in whatever way works best for you in terms of developing intimate times with the Savior each day.

Today I am focused on growth.  To the best of my ability I want to be in a state of prayer throughout the day, developing a desire to grow in these six specific ways.  I will be speaking verbal prayers.  I will be acting on opportunities that the Father may place before me today to grow in one or more of these areas.  As often as I think of it, I will be in my heart rehearsing, "God, grow my _______", putting one of the six areas in the blank or at times speaking all six, or even other areas that the Spirit may impress upon me.  After all, the point is to grow into His likeness--not just the one that I can imagine.  Here are the six areas that I'm aware of in which I need to grow today.

GODLINESS:  Father, I want to be a more perfect reflection of your Son--in every way.  Make me and mold me--break me--refine me--heal me.  Keep working until others can see Jesus in me.

RESOURCES:  Lord, I want to be a faithful steward with the things that you have given to me.  It's your stuff--not mine.  Show me today how to grow in my giving.  Bless me with more so that I can bless more!

OBEDIENCE:  Spirit, give me a sensitive heart to your leading today.  Bring to my mind every instance of hesitation that I might learn to obey immediately.  Show me my failures in the moment that they happen that I might learn from my mistakes.

WISDOM:  God, you have said that if I will ask, then you will pour out your wisdom liberally.  I'm asking.  Fill me with your wisdom that I might understand your ways and cooperate with your ideas.  I don't want to miss it.  Teach me in an obvious way today.

TALENT:  Jesus, you are perfect in everything that you do.  You have gifted me and you have resourced me.  Sharpen my skills today that I might be of more use to you in your work.  I want to be the best teacher, the best pastor, the best counselor that I possibly can be.  Perfect the gifts that you have placed upon me.

HUMILITY:  Lord, I know that you cannot use me effectively if I am proud and arrogant.  Continue to take me to the broken places in my heart until I am completely dependent upon you with no self-will remaining.  You bring down the proud and you raise up the humble.  Accomplish your purpose in me.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

New Book

Last week, Tina signed a publishing contract with Kregel Publications.

I remember that more than fifteen years ago, Tina was in the cast of The Promise--a dramatic musical portrayal of the life of Christ, performed in an amphitheater near Glen Rose, Texas.  Over the course of a season, Tina developed some wonderful friendships--including a relationship with Dena Dyer--who is co-authoring the new book with Tina.  I also remember one evening after the show when one of the cast members (don't know who) approached Tina and asked if he could pray for her.  Included in his prayer was a prophetic word that "Tina would be published around the world".  At the time Tina had not written anything more significant than a letter.  She had never taught anything (other than Sunday School) and she had never spoken before a group except maybe to share a testimony.  Tina was a worship leader and a song-writer and so our assumption was that God would publish her music in some way.  In the last sixteen years, Tina has recorded two Cd's of her own songs, she has led worship in some wonderful places, and ever so slowly she began to write articles, stories, Bible studies, and books.  The book that Tina is writing with Dena Dyer is her third and the first to be published.  It's a long way from "around the world" but still, it's got a shot.

You can read some of Tina's writings at her blog:  Journey Moments or visit her website if you would like to invite her to your church or to your women's group:  www.tinasamples.com.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Samples' Family Update

It's about time for an update.  I have not written on the blog for quite some time.  Those that blog know that there are periods of time when you can post multiple thoughts everyday and then there are periods of time where there is just no motivation to write anything.  I don't know if I'm feeling especially motivated today or if I'm just feeling a big guilty for having not written in so long.  Either way...here I go.

I'll start with the family.  Tina signed a conract with Kregel Publications last week to write a book with one of her dear friends, Dena Dyer.  Both Tina and Dena (I like the way that sounds) are gifted writers, teachers, singers, etc.  They both have husbands who are hoping to ride their coattails all the way to the top.  This will be Tina's first published book and the Samples' house is praying for much success.  We plan to take the book on the road and to teach it wherever possible.  When the book is finished and the release date is anounced, I will certainly be letting you know (and asking to come to your church to teach it as well).

My oldest son Jaren will be marrying his fiance Jillian towards the end of this month.  It will be simple and small wedding in the mountains.  Jillian is in the Navy and they will be relocating to San Diego.  I've never been to San Diego but I look forward to visiting.  I hear that it is a wonderful place with great weather.  In the meantime, Jaren continues to teach guitar and to play in his band, A Texas Tragedy, with his brother.  They recently opened for Sheridan at a small venue in Littleton.

Zach, my youngest son, is changing schools.  Next week, he will begin his junior year at Resurrection Christian School.  He has been at Windsor for his entire academic career and so this a pretty big deal.  Rez will allow Zach to improve his grades and to get ready for college in a stronger way.  He is also excited about playing baseball for Rez.  Two years ago they barely missed winning the state championship.  We're looking forward to dedicated christian coaches who want to build strong character into their teams.  Zach is also looking for a car--something around $500--that runs, would be great.

As always, we appreciate your prayer.  We feel like God is doing a great work through our church--Grace River.  Many lives are being transformed as we continue to try to be a safe place where anyone can come as they are and find hope and healing.  I'll share more tomorrow (or the next day...lol).

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Daily Grace Devotion

Hello Friends,

If you are not already reading my devotions each day, let me encourage you to take a look.  They are short, to the point, and come right out of the biblical text.

http://www.dailygracedevotion.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Baptism Pictures

You can see pictures from our Independence Day Baptism Service @ www.observing-grace.blogspot.com.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Gem Lake Hike

Our church likes to hike and last Saturday we took our first hike of the summer up to Gem Lake.  It's a fairly easy hike (3 miles roundtrip) to a beautiful rain-filled lake.  Here are some pictures.






Thursday, June 30, 2011

Me & Tina

Here is one of my favorite pictures.  This is of Tina and myself the night that I asked her to marry me.  We were both 20.  I took her out to dinner to The Old English Inn in Jackson, Tennessee.  After dinner, we went to our Baptist Student Union meeting at Union University where we were both students.  This picture was taken in the hallway at Union.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

New Grace River Pics

Hey Everyone!  There are some new Grace River pictures posted at http://www.observing-grace.blogspot.com/.  Check them out!  We have a great church!

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Vacation Bible School Pictures

Grace River hosted her very first Vacation Bible School this morning.  We're meeting at Windsor Main Park and the first day was awesome.  The Grace River folks stepped up with 19 Bible School workers for the first day teaching 20 children.  That's a marvelous 1:1 worker/student ratio.  I thought that you might enjoy some pictures of our first day.
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