Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Power of "Next"

Working in elementary education has it's perks. You get access to a corporate cafeteria that serves corn dogs and pizza every Friday. You have a reason to look at office supply catalogs and can buy the latest 2013 Crayola crayon and Ticonderoga pencil offerings without apology. You stay up to date on the latest cartoon trends and the hottest toys.

Oh and you can meet "the next African American president of the United States."

One of our third graders - not one of mine, darn it - won the annual MLK Day oratorical contest in our area last week. I thought he did a great job. He recited his speech again for the school over the intercom the other day and I caught this statement "and one day I will be the next African American president of the United States."

He's 9.

Now he probably hasn't taken the time to do the math to see how many years he has to go before he's eligible. Nor has he thought that waiting on him alone would mean quite a few election cycles without a chance of another African American president.

Not to worry.

Now that we've shown that America's "all men are created equal..." isn't an uncashed check, I'll bet other older candidates will surface.

Such is the power of next. The past loses any power when you embrace its power.

What about you?

Are you living in such a way to give hope to someone else that they might be next?

Next to graduate?
Next to have a good marriage?
Next to be a good husband, a good wife, a good Dad or Mom?

Leverage the power of "next."

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.
2 Cor 5:17 (HCSB)

Saturday, January 12, 2013

What the Early Church had That We've Forgotten

Over the last few years I have spent a lot of time trying to understand just what it takes to see a church grow. Having experienced periods of slow growth, sustained growth, rapid growth, and no growth over the last 13 years here - I have quite a body of evidence to look at.

We've participated in some, not all, of the different church growth programs. We were "an intentionally evangelistic church" early on. Then we became a "Purpose-Driven" church and while the basic principles are super, the context we are in differs a great deal from Southern California. We've studied the works of Tim Keller, Francis Chan, and others.

So here we are on week 29 of another program, "The Story." The difference with this one is that it is strictly Bible. We've taken a walk through the Bible for over half a year from Genesis to now Paul's epistles. We've seen God at work in all sorts of situations with all sorts of people and followed the prophecies to Messiah's birth, death, and resurrection. Now the church has begun, Saul has become Paul and the church begins it's expansion.

The culture they were in was hostile. The government saw them as a threat. Established religions hated them.

And yet, they multiplied.

Have we forgotten how?

Tuesday, January 08, 2013


They both lived out their vows.

"For better for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, as long as you both shall live."

And now she's doing her best to make it through the valley of shadows. Her husband - her heart - of many years passed away and now life is so different. When you are known by both your names; when people don't think of one of you without the other - when the outside world knows "the two have become one" - then just imagine how "one" they were outside the public eye. There's a void... now.

Staying busy, visiting family, looking forward. Doing what it takes. Saying the right words. Those of us who know her, who loved them both, hurt with her, hope with her, look for ways to let her know we care. We want to help her bear her burden. A lot of people do.

Sunday she came with a friend to church, and endured a round of hugs. She shared some smiles that warmed our hearts.

And I noticed something.

A necklace hung around her neck and on it were two things - a cross and his wedding band.

Both of those loves will last forever.

I look around and see people living together and trying to claim it's the same thing as the "as long as we both shall live" vows to God and each other.

No. That's a failure to commit. Not just to each other, but to a life that honors God and obeys His Word.

39 years ago Bunny and I made the same vows. It hasn't always been easy. God has given us grace enough to make it.

Don't shortchange God or rob yourself of the chance to see God work powerfully in your life. Submit yourself to His leading and direction. Honor His Word and the person God has given you to love, honor and cherish.


Saturday, January 05, 2013

Lessons Learned

Aiden Brann Wilson

Came home from a couple of days with family in Middle Georgia including the most awesome baby in the world (my grandson Aiden), to find that one of our Airedales had shredded the picture of MY third grade class. And before you start, it was not on a stone tablet or a clay one for that matter. It was a black and white picture of me way back then. I was planning on scanning it and then taking a copy and showing it to my present third grade class - just for shock value.

Now it's a puzzle project.

You know, years ago I would have been upset about this.

Not now. Not after looking into the eyes of the future third grader in Warner Robins and having the chance again on Monday to teach a room filled with third graders.

I remember what the picture looked like with fondness. That was a great year.

But I have the chance to help make my class at Eglin something the present day third graders will remember when they are my age.

And I got the chance during the past two weeks to see Aiden right after his birth, watch him grow, and hold him and love him. Something I will NEVER take for granted.

So the lesson friends is this. Save your passion for things you can make a difference in. Reserve your tears for those things you care about, passionately work to affect, that don't grow and change.

If my past gets shredded, I'll just embrace the future more.

Maybe that's what God had in mind.

...focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
Phil 3:13-14 (NLT)