Monday, May 8, 2017

From Ennis, Texas to Falls Creek, Oklahoma, by way of Atlanta, Georgia

This was the 10th anniversary of the Men Rewired Christian Men’s Retreat at Falls Creek, Oklahoma.  It is only 166 miles from Ennis, Texas to Falls Creek, Oklahoma, but since I detoured through Atlanta, Georgia on the way, the round trip was roughly 1932 miles.  You can read below about the detour to Atlanta; the actual trip to Falls Creek for Nic Collins and I started on Friday morning at 9am from DFW airport.

Parking lot on the way to registration

Five Baylor men left Ennis in the church van with Daring Driver Dudley Fox at the wheel.  Larry Fincher picked us up at the airport and counting Nic and I there were five Baylor men in his truck.  We had to keep reminding Daring Driver Dudley by cell phone that this was not a race, but they beat us to Falls Creek by several hours (or maybe it was minutes) and reserved a place for us in the parking lot.

View from my bunk.

We had a comfortable cabin.  The bunks were new and the mattresses were very comfortable.  I wised up some from last year and moved to the back of the room, as far as I could get from the restroom.  Last year, men (old guys, like me) were constantly getting up to go use the facilities, and each time they did, they left the light on.  That’s not a problem when you are 20 bunks away. It just makes for a longer walk.

Don Howard, Larry Houdek, Larry Fincher and Dudley are planning what breakout sessions they will attend.  Most of the Baylor men chose to attend sessions on discipleship.  They all said it was great!

Parking for Hogs

Kenyatta Wright, former NFL linebacker and now FCA director and founder of TRUTH Supply Co.

Falls Creek at Night

Larry and his other brother the other Larry. 

My sessions were on hermeneutics, taught by Dr. Owen Neace.  Dr. Neace is Pastor of a Church in Oklahoma City.  He has an obvious love for the Lord and fellow believers.  His teaching made what had been described to me a difficult subject one that I cannot wait to pursue further.

They can feed a lot of men in a short time at Falls Creek.  There were probably 4000 men there, and we never had to wait in line.  Good food, too!

Baylor men getting their worship on.  You can see Lyndon Johnson in the white shirt, then Freddy Santos, Don Howard is holding his phone to take a photo, then Larry Houdek, Dudley Fox, Austin Montgomery, Nic Collins, Doug Goff.

Prayer with 4000 other men.  Powerful.

This is Keith Burkhart, leader of Men Rewired for the past ten years

One of the main speakers was Jim Putnam from Idaho.  He taught part of the breakout session that some of our men attended on discipleship, and also wrote one of the books that Nic Collins is using in his seminary studies called Disciple-Shift.  He spoke Friday evening in the main worship session on fleeing from sin’s temptation, his text being Proverbs 7.  Read it and apply the wisdom that Solomon teaches therein.

Out of Focus Freddy looks mildly amused.  Don looks mildly confused!

This is Michael Jr.  He is a comedian, and while he spent the first half of his time telling jokes that had men roaring with laughter, he also brought a powerful message on “Letting Jesus in to Clean House” that was blessed by the Holy Spirit.  The altar was flooded with men making life changing decisions.

Here is the whole group (that’s me, right behind the camera…I’m in every shot that way).  We are about to enter Two Frogs restaurant in Ardmore, OK to get a bite to eat before we return to Texas.

Two Frogs is a nice restaurant, decorated like a Hard Rock CafĂ© with guitars from many major artist adorning the walls.  The food was good and plenty of it.  Our waiter’s name was Milo.  We joined in prayer for Milo’s grandmother as he expressed that she has a long term illness.  How about offering a brief prayer right now for Milo and his grandmother as you read this?

So that’s the trip for Rewired 2017.  Here we are back in Texas, joining in prayer, thanking God for a safe journey and all that we learned and the fellowship we had with all of these men. 

Rewired is an annual event that comes up every year around the end of April.  We usually start making our plans and reservations in January.  Put it on your calendar and go with us next year.  You’ll be glad you did!

Friday, May 5, 2017

To Atlanta and Oklahoma?

To Atlanta and Back…to Oklahoma?
I don’t blog often, and lately it has been annually…which certainly is not very often.  Here we go on another quick road trip!
Pastor Chet Hensley and Nic Collins picked me up at 5am Wednesday for the drive to Atlanta, Georgia to attend the Orange Conference.  This conference is a multi-denominational Christian event that includes large group worship as well as small group teaching for anyone interested in reaching and teaching his community for Jesus.
A LOT of people attend, from all over the United States and Canada.  This year, there was a large group there from Norway. Norway!  I don’t even know where Norway is, and I’m really glad I did not have to ride from Norway to Atlanta in Pastor Chet’s pickup truck.

Really a LOT of People

We arrived in Atlanta around 7PM, just in time for the evening worship to begin.  The music was loud, perhaps just because of where we were sitting, perhaps because I am old. Just kidding about being old.  I’m not old, I just have a lot of living experience.  This opening session was a worshipful pep-rally, sure to get you looking forward to the day to come.  The musicians and vocalists were outstanding.
It was too dark to take notes during the discussion that occurred at this meeting, but we were looking for new ideas and ways to be the church.  One of the things I liked about this meeting was the round table discussion that they had. It would certainly be a new concept, but certainly another way to present the Good News in a worship service.
It was “late” by the time we left this opening meeting, especially since we had started the day around 4am.  We quickly located our motel and walked a few blocks (uphill both ways, I might add) to a Waffle House for a quick bite to eat before retiring for the evening.  Our waitress was a young lady with a sweet countenance named Cheyenne.  We asked Cheyenne how we could pray for her, and she really could not come up with anything.  Ask me that question and I’ll give you a list….
I know you can see the reflection of a Denny’s sign, but we really were at Waffle House.
The evening lingered for Nic as he worked on a seminary paper, but I was able to turn in relatively early.  The morning was upon us before we knew it. We had a chance to visit with the desk clerk at the motel before we left for the conference. His name was "Jack", and he was from India.  He was Hindu. We learned from Jack that although hundreds of Christians had filled his motel every year for the past 5 years, no one had ever shared the Gospel of Jesus with him before.  Convicting?
We were soon back at the conference center for a day of worship and education.  I attended four break out sessions other than the main praise and worship sessions. 
Leading a Neighbor Minded Next-Gen Team gave us reasons from Scripture why we should be about loving and engaging our neighbors to open our eyes outside the walls of the church. They spoke of a number of financial opportunities, service opportunities, engagement opportunities, and education opportunities.  We must give children an opportunity to serve, or they will no longer see the need to serve.  Neighbor minded opportunities exist from preschool through adulthood.
I also attended Five Roles of a Small Group Leader.  In a nutshell, we learned be present, create a safe place, partner with parents, make it personal, and move them out.  I am looking forward to exploring and expanding these with our small group leaders at Baylor Baptist Church.
We had a surprise for lunch. Nic learned that his sister, a children’s director at a church near Atlanta was attending the conference also.  We walked (uphill both ways again, and in the rain) to a restaurant not too far from the conference center and met her and others from her church for lunch.  While we were there Nic got to hold his nephew!
Another really profitable session I attended was on Marriage Ministry.  It was enlightening to say the least. We explored what opportunities there are to engage people in this ministry, regardless of their current marital status.
The final break out session that I attended was on Time Management.  This was without a doubt the most popular break out session; it was held in the largest room and the room was full.  Perhaps that is an indication of the task that ministers face daily.  We must decide on how we will most productively spend our time; if not, others will decide for us.
The last large group meeting was a night of comedy, music and skits that were simply for entertainment.  Note that it really is okay for a bunch of Christians to get together just to have fun and enjoy our fellowship from time to time, but at the same time, be don’t want to lose sight of our commission.
The next morning, 3am came early…Nic and I had an early flight out of Atlanta to DFW, where a group of men from Baylor Baptist Church would pick us up for the second leg of this great journey.  Pastor Chet stayed in Atlanta for the rest of the day, then drove straight through the night back to Ennis. 
Stay tuned for the rest of the story…Rewired in Falls Creek, Oklahoma!

Monday, August 29, 2016

We're Not in Kansas Anymore....

A couple of years ago I wrote a blog I called "The Nashville Turnaround". You can go further down this blogsite and read it if you are interested.  This blog is a similar post with different characters, but instead of Nashville, it was an overnighter to Kansas City and back.
Nic Collins and I left Ennis, Texas at 6am last Friday morning.  Our first stop was in Fort Worth to collect my son T.J. from his apartment there.  The next stop was at a QT for coffee.  I stepped out of Nic's truck and was immediately met by a panhandler named Ashley.  Ashley had her story down pat; she had a particular medicine that she needed and had part of the money, all she needed was for me to add to it.  One could see this as either an obstacle or an opportunity, and this was one of those times where the Holy Spirit prompted me to speak.  I asked her if she knew Jesus, and she said she did. I asked her to tell me about Him, and she came back with a pretty good answer.  I gave her a Gospel of John and encouraged her to read it, and I contributed to her medicine fund. I also told her we would pray for her. (That's your cue to pause while you are reading this and pray for Ashley.)

We had T.J. in the pilot's seat since he knows his way around and through Fort Worth better than either Nic or me.  We were right in the middle of the rush hour traffic and there is so much construction on the roads going north from Fort Worth, it took us two hours to get as far as Denton.  We had a couple of other brief stops on the way, and with all of that, we just got to the church on time for the conference to begin at 6pm.
Stephen Miller led the praise music throughout the conference.  His music was a blend of praise choruses mixed with some up tempo Christian hymns.  I was glad that T.J. enjoyed the up tempo hymns, and actually seemed to enjoy them more than the praise choruses.  He said he liked them because he could remember the words from singing along in church as a child, but he liked these a lot more than when they were accompanied by only a piano and organ. (T.J. worships regularly in a church that has a more contemporary style than I am used to).
One of the speakers was Travis Rosen. Rosen is one of the older contestants on the Ninja Warrior TV series, but at age 42, he was still able to do a standing back flip on the stage!  He has been a top five finisher several times on Ninja, one of the points he made was, "When you find yourself debating with the Lord, that's a pretty good sign that he has already told you what you need to be doing".
Jonathan Evans is the son of Dr. Tony Evans.  He played in the NFL, and in addition to other vocations, is the Chaplain for the Dallas Cowboys and attends Southwestern Seminary.  He spoke about God often speaking an unsettling word...and as he considered God's command to Abraham to "go"...he looked it up in Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, and a couple of other language.  Everytime, it just means GO!
As a comedian, Brad Stine would remind you of Robin Williams.  He has a lot of the same mannerisms and voice inflection, but does a great job of mixing spiritual truth with his comedy.  Most of the time he spoke about men, but he also pointed out the differences of the "Fee male".

You may have seen T.C. Stallings on the big screen in "Fireproof" or "War Room". His testimony is that success is a blessing from God, and that he knows that God does not need him, but that God chose him.  I really liked one of his analogies.  He said that Jesus can take the wheel, but when He does He will be driving the car in front of you.  It is your choice to follow him or not, we are not forced to go along with him in the same car.

Friday ended pretty late for these three guys after the long drive.  A significant storm occured in Kansas City that night, and by the time we made it to our hotel room it was after 11pm.  It seemed we had just closed our eyes when the alarm sounded, but after a good breakfast we were back at the church and looking forward to the next speakers.

The Benham Brothers pick on each other as they speak and are very entertaining.  They have been very successful in real estate, but their fame came when they stood up for their belief in Jesus, even though it meant the cancellation of a very lucrative television program.  "Boldness must be preceded by brokenness".
The adventurer Jimmy Sites used the story of the hunting of wolves without bullets, arrows, or traps to illustrate how Satan lures us into a false sense of security then destroys us by our own lusts.  We must remain alert and ever vigilant.
Donnie Smith honors the Lord in the workplace as CEO of Tyson foods.  If the employees in the breakroom are animatedly talking about the football game from the weekend, he might say how their pastor really nailed his sermon yesterday!
As a Christian professor and author, Owen Stachan was one of the deeper speakers at the conference.  He left us with a number of great thoughts, including, "Manhood is not a genetic accident.  Men are hardwired to be men, and men need the Gospel of Jesus.  The core of manliness is to be like Jesus."
The final speaker was one I had really been looking forward to hearing, and was one of the main reasons we chose to do this overnighter to Kansas City.  Dr. Johnny Hunt is a well know Pastor from North Carolina and has been at Woodstock, Georgia since 1986.  He is known for leading Pastor's conferences and has served as President of the Southern Baptist Convention.  His testimony is tremendous, and his preaching is engaging.  His text was 1 Kings Ch 17 about Elijah going where God sent him, and God providing everything he needed when he got there!  There is a place of God's purpose, and God never calls without commanding, just as he commanded the ravens to feed Elijah at the brook Cherith.

We left Kansas City soon after noon and were back in Ennis by 9pm.  T.J. is already looking at the conference in New Orleans in 2017.  Come go with us!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Submerged! In Vacation Bible School

Over 50 children came to our church, Baylor Baptist, for Vacation Bible School this week!  The 4 days had a nautical theme; throughout the church there were submarines and jellyfish, coral and seaweed...all decorations to support the theme of being submerged and going deeper into God's word.
Young people from pre-K to about 6th grade enjoyed Bible stories, singing, crafts, recreation, treats, and Bible memory. We want every child to feel welcome at our church, and we encourage those that do not attend Sunday School somewhere else to come back this Sunday and be a part of what we do every week.  You are invited too!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

We Keep Praying...

...He keeps answering.  It seems so simple, but so often we get out of the habit of prayer, or we never established it to begin with.  I do not know what I would do without my daily prayer time and my prayer journal.  Years ago I acquired a three ring binder that is called the "29/59 Plan".  The object is to organize one's daily prayer time for about 30 minutes a day (or 29 minutes and 59 seconds, if you get the drift).

For the last several years I have been pretty faithful to get on my stationary bike and pedal for 30 minutes each morning while working my way through the prayer journal.  There are some things I pray for daily (it is a pretty long list), and some things I pray for on a particular day of the week.

About once every month or so, I have to update the daily list because I have scribbled new names or requests on it, or I have filled up empty spaces with those three wonderful letters "PTL".  I keep those old pages in the back of the binder and review them about once a week.  It is AMAZING to look back and see the prayers God has answered.

A recent PTL was recorded last week when my son and his wife announced we would have a new grandson around Thanksgiving this year.  Another recent PTL was confirmation that I would see a friend whose spiritual condition I was uncertain of in Heaven some day.  PTL!

If you are interested, you can make your own "29/59" with a three ring binder and 8 dividers.  Make one divider for "daily", then one for each day of the week.  Then start praying.  I promise, He will start answering.  That's not just my promise.  It's His. 

Mt. 7:7-11

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Nashville Turnaround

The Main Event is a Christian Men’s Conference sponsored by Lifeway each year.  It has been in Nashville for the past several years, and next year there will be one there but a couple of others at different cities across the country also.

They bring in some celebrity speakers and also some accomplished preachers to speak and inspire the thousands of men in attendance.  I would estimate I joined about 9000 others this year at the Bridgestone Arena.  The primary celebrity speaker was President George W. Bush, but you might also recognize names like Tommy and Bobby Bowden, Comedian Micheal, Jr., or NASCAR driver Darrell Waltrip.

There was a surprise appearance by Lee Greenwood, and of course he sang "God Bless the USA!"  Everyone sang along.  Fantastic!  Micheal W. Smith lead the worship music.

The celebrities all were interesting, many continue to be involved in various ministries.  President Bush told of being in Rwanda and meeting a group of orphan/refugees.  It was an impromptu meeting…he had no speech planned, so he just shook hands with the first refugee and said, “God is good”.  In unison the refugees replied, “all the time”.

Bobby Bowden told about sharing the Gospel with his football team, then one of his assistant coaches coming to his office and asking about eternal life and Jesus.  The assistant coach accepted Christ in his office, and is a well known Christian head coach today.

Darrell Waltrip talked a lot about his relationship with Dale Earnhardt.  He said his wife put a verse of scripture in his car and Earnhardt’s car before every race.  Though retired from racing, he is very involved with the ministry at the tracks.

Micheal, Jr. is funny.  ‘nuff said.  “I haven’t had a cigarette in over 2 years.”  *applause* “I never smoked in my life”.

We heard some good messages from the preachers also.  I came home with a fresh understanding of Ephesians chapter 5 and my role in the sanctification of my wife.

I titled this “The Nashville Turnaround” because the whole trip was about 40 hours.  I picked up my pastor, Bro. Chet Hensley at 4:30 Friday morning, and we were back in Ennis sometime after 1:00 Sunday morning.  Spending 40 hours with your pastor is a rare opportunity…one that I think very few men have an opportunity to do. What a blessing that was for me!

After we got back, God revealed some stuff to me about the 40 hours.  For me, I likened it to the children of Israel following Moses through the wilderness for 40 years.  Pastor Chet would take off up a flight of stairs at the arena with me following behind at turtle speed, and when I finally caught up with him, he’d say, “how’s your knee?”  I’d say fine, then he’d be gone again, and I would catch up with him again, and he’d say “how’s your knee?” again.  This happened several times.  I think Pastor Chet thought keeping up with him might heal my knee.  Maybe I haven’t waited long enough for the miracle yet.

For Pastor Chet, he might liken the 40 hours with me to the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness being tempted by the devil.  If you ask him that, please don’t tell me what he says.  I don’t want to know.

Any way you look at it though, it was a rare opportunity that few will experience, spending 40 straight hours with their pastor.  However, any of us have the opportunity to spend 40 hours with someone even greater, the Master.

I have been blessed to have taken a couple of overnight excursions with just me and my Bible…and all of that time to read and meditate on the Word and pray with Jesus.

If you ever get the opportunity to spend 40 hours with your pastor, I would recommend it, but you do have the opportunity to spend time alone with the Master.  Take advantage of it!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013 has been a long time since I posted to this blog, and a LOT has happened since the last time I posted.  I have been very busy with things at church, but along with this "busyness" I have been able to grow in my relationship with Jesus.

Last year, for the first time ever, I was able to read the Bible all the way through.  What a blessing that was!  I read it on my tablet computer, and while I got a lot out of it and I am glad I did it, the tablet did not really lend itself to much in "study".

So this year, I decided I would start back through the Bible again, but this time I am using a study Bible and not only reading the scripture text, but I am also reading the notes and underlining and writing in the margins.  It will probably take a few years to finish going all the way through this way, but I am learning a lot.

When I take my time and study the scripture, even though I have read every word before, new things just jump from the pages at me.  The Bible is so obviously "living and active...."  However, I find it opens up so much better to me when I pray and ask the Holy Spirit to lead me as I read and study.

So like I said, a lot has been going on lately and I have a lot to post before I get caught up writing about what has happened.  I hope to post more least weekly.  Stay tuned.