Showing posts from 2018

Remembering 9/11

Every year - at least since 2001 - coming to 9/11 has been sobering.  Has it really been 17 years since that awful day?  I remember like it was last week.  I was preparing for a school day at Corsicana Christian Academy.  We were having our daily briefing and prayer time when our attendance secretary broke in and told us a plane had hit the World Trade Center.  Eleven years earlier, as a college senior on my first trip to NYC, I saw the Trade Centers and felt like it was the very symbol of the city.  The weather where we were was crystal clear and beautiful as it was in NYC.  To think of someone crashing into them was unthinkable - how could you NOT see them?  Our headmaster called on me to pray for those affected.  Little did we know it would be all of us.  Ours was a small school.  I took the one and only TV we had and set it up in my classroom.  I was supposed to be teaching Bible and philosophy that day but the lesson plans got cast aside quickly.  Just as we turned the TV on,

Out of my comfort zone

This past Sunday was a different kind of Sunday than most any I've known.  The early service was pretty much normal.  But the later one. . . .well, that was different.  Let's go back and talk about why.  Several months ago, we negotiated with Matthew West's management to have him here at FBC Midland on the morning after he appeared at Rock the Desert the night before.  We envisioned it to be a cap to a fantastic weekend and a chance to worship with our friends who were with us from across the area and across the state.  One element about it that came in late was the idea of adding an interview with Matthew on stage.  I volunteered for the job, but not because I considered myself fully qualified for it or because I have a lot of experience in it.  Truthfully, I felt like I needed to do it out of obedience to the Lord's call as pastor here.  I wasn't about to give that role away. . . .even if I wasn't terribly comfortable doing it.  Put me before a crowd - regard

Summer Reading

I've always loved to read.  When I was little and first learning to read, my parents made two mistakes: (1) Buying me a membership in a book club and (2) giving me a flashlight.  When used well together, it made for a some fine late night reading!  Strangely enough, when I would fall asleep reading with the flashlight on, I would wake up the next morning with my book and light on the night stand.  Not a word was said about it esp in the summer.  When the summer would come, I was allowed to expand my reading to things other than school stuff - usually sports related stories or hot-rod magazines.  But always - ALWAYS - reading. That hasn't change at all.  Each day, I read the Wall St Journal.  Like I once did with the sports page or the comics, I now turn to their book review in the editorial section.  It has become my "go-to" source for finding new reading material and it has not disappointed yet.  It leads me to stuff I would never find.  And that's what I just

A poem to go with our summer series

One of our church family members recently wrote a poem about Hebrews that I wanted to share with you.  Alice and Dick Brown are members of FBC.  This poem reflects Ms Alice's passion for Jesus and His Word.  I hope it blesses you as much as it did me.  A Journey Through Hebrews.   by Alice Brown Oh that we would understand That God from long ago Revealed himself in many ways That men might clearly know This God who calls them to Himself, But man did fail to show Devotion to His loving voice And his own way did go So God then came in human form, Christ Jesus was his name-- Sustainer, Heir and Perfect Sacrifice, Yes, God, always the same. Now seated on His holy throne Revealed to man that we proclaim This God who came to us That all might know His fame. Through sin we lost our glory But Jesus won it back. Through selfless pain and suffering He gave what we now lack-- His righteousness, redemption, By His own saving act-- A great h

Baptizing my son

It's July 8th.  Before day, there's been nothing really spectacular about that day.  But there is now.  Seven years ago, when Josh was born, I began praying for today, asking that my son would some day come to love Jesus and want to serve Him.  I have never prayed for the Lord to call Josh into ministry but I pray for him to love the Lord and want to serve him using whatever skills he has.  My prayers for his salvation were answered and now for his baptism!  What a great kid!  I was asked - after the baptism - how I held my composure on such a big day at such a big moment.  Two things helped - (1) Although I've baptized many people in 20 years of being a pastor, I spent time rehearsing because I knew this was no ordinary baptism.  I didn't trust my emotions.  I was concerned they would run away with me.  So I rehearsed a speech I've given hundreds of times.  It wasn't that I didn't know what to say or how to say it.  I just had never used it on my own so

Random Question: "Why the moniker Dr. D?"

Sometimes people will ask how I settled on the moniker Dr D or ask why I carry such a pretentious title.  In the interest of clarity, here's my multi-faceted answer.  (1) Go with me back to my childhood.  I wasn't the sharpest knife in the drawer (some things never change, do they?).  But my mom consistently encouraged me to not settle for less than the best I could do, no matter what that was.  She never went to college nor did my dad, but for them, education was a highly prized asset.  While they didn't tell me how far they wanted me to go in school, they wanted me to give it my best lick.  When I went to Dallas Baptist, they were thrilled when I graduated.  When I went to Southwestern Seminary for my masters, they were excited for me.  While I don't think either of them really understood why I wanted to do doctoral work, they were so very proud that I did.  I keep a picture in my doctoral diploma frame that I took on the day I received it.  The picture is just of t


Forgive the slow nature of my report on this - it was a wild ride the last couple of days. Friday morning, we got up and left to make the 3 hour drive back to Nairobi.  At home, the trip might be about 2 hours (about the same distance as to Abilene) but the roads and traffic in Kenya make it longer.  The best part was the company in the truck with me.  Trena and Jim Mroczko are some serious rock stars!  I tried to think of someone I would drive 3 hours to pick up, drive them 3 hours back home and then repeat that less than 48 hours later - I could name only a couple.  I'm deeply grateful for their kindness and their hospitality.  Their work at His Cherished Ones Children's Home is amazing.  There's a solid reason we at FBC partner with them.  I can promise you they are doing some incredible work.  In Keyna, sadly, it's not uncommon for babies to be abandoned.  It's happened at least 89 times in the last 10 years since they were formed.  With a staff of 20, His Che

Wednesday and Thursday - Nairobi

Now that was an extraordinary day!   When I got up Wednesday in Adama, it was our last day of the conferences.   We had a good crowd and the spirit of the meeting was strong as we started.   Today was the day we were doing a crash course in basic systematic theology.   My assignment was to lay the ground work for the discussion and begin the conversation with a discussion of the doctrine of God.   I took more time than was allotted to me – I’m not proud of that – but a good portion of that was answering questions and discussing how this applied in their daily life and service to the church and their people.   It was time well spent.   I’m pleased at the questions they were asking.   Clearly, they have sharp minds – they just haven’t really taken the time to challenge themselves mentally.   Or maybe they’ve never had the opportunity.   Or maybe this WAS their opportunity and they were eager to have it.   At any rate, they were eager and willing students and I was deeply grateful for t

TUESDAY - my last full day in Ethiopia

Our pastor / church leader conference took a turn today.  Whereas yesterday we talked with our NGO and governmental friends about leadership principles in general while referencing Jesus and the Bible, today, the Bible was our textbook and Jesus our instructor on leadership principles expressed in the church.  We took a deliberate and passionate look at how our leadership is a direct result of our views of Christ and his leadership in our lives.  We looked at Nehemiah, one of the most famous and passionate leaders in Scripture.  We tied Jesus and Nehemiah together in parallel to express commonalities and to give us aid in leading our people.  Most of all, we took express care to indicate Jesus is a SERVANT leader.  I was surprised how that was reflected in the eyes of our friends here.  While they acknowledge Jesus as the servant leader, they struggled to come to terms with how to express that in a very top-down culture such as theirs.  With great love and care, we walked through more

MONDAY - Day 3

After a restful night and an early call from a very vocal and determined rooster to start the day, we launched the first of three conferences today. Today's was designed for those who were in leadership in any area - govermental, social, religious or just WANT to be a leader.  We embraced them all.  With the help of 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative and Dallas Baptist University, we provided each participant with a certificate of completion.  That may not sound like a big deal to us in the US, but trust me it was to those who received it.  I've learned through other trips that such a certificate helps reinforce the seriousness of the subject matter.  Enough intro - let's make with the pictures.  The banner you see is the official name of our event for the week, despite the diversity of our plans.  Our intention was to influence and train leaders today of all shape and sort.  We had somewhere between 200-300 crammed into a room far too small for that many.  Add to that p

Sunday in Ethiopia

Sunday is easily my favorite day of the week.  As a pastor and a shepherd, it's the day I get to share with God's people what I've been working on and the day I get to see the people I love so dearly.  Even though I'm 8,000 miles from home, today was no different.  That's what some people don't seem to understand - the body of Christ isn't limited by continents, languages or even denominations.  All we need is each other to share our walk with.  Walk with me through today in these pictures.  We started the day with a church Watch and Pray (the ministry we are here with) to help plant.  Just about 25 KM from Adama, the church is in Waldaa, a very poor village.  That's the church family pictured to the side.  They were THRILLED to have the chance to show off their building and to have a visitor from America to share the morning with.  The music pastor - squatting down in the center - stepped up his game today.  I preached on John 9 - the man born bl

My first trip to Africa

When I was a kid, Africa was a dark and mysterious place with lions, gorillas and snakes.  Or so I was told.  What I wasn't told is how incredibly beautiful this place is.  We landed in Addis Ababa around 7 AM and got through customs pretty well.  I was shocked to see how many people were checking flat screen TVs in as luggage.  That's an odd choice, I remember thinking.  Then, when I got here, I could see why.  While there is commerce everywhere, there is little in the way of electronics for availability.  Lots of tuk-tuks (they call them "Baragae"), lots of push carts, lots of donkey / horse carts - and that's just in the city.  Unfortunately, I fell asleep on the ride from Addis to Adama - a by product of not having enough rest on the plane and finally finding a comfortable spot (don't misunderstand - the flight was fine and the seat I had was business class so I'm not complaining - they just don't build things for normal sized people like me.)  Whi

Leaving for THE trip

Last year, right before I was diagnosed with cancer, I had a wonderful invitation to join a pastor training conference in Ethiopia.  After I was diagnosed, I had to bail.  Before I did, however, my friend Getaneh told me, "When you're over this, we'll get you to East Africa."  Tomorrow morning, I'll find the truth of his prophecy.  I'm leaving tomorrow on a 2 week trip.  On this trip, I'll visit Ethiopia, Kenya and Lebanon.  Following the example of the Apostle Paul, I'm going to encourage and equip churches and their leaders, to see our mission partners in action where they serve and to be encouraged.  I'd be lying if I said the trip didn't intimidate me a little.  I stacked it this way because of the vicinity of these partners and the cost-effectiveness of making one trip instead of three.  It SEEMED like a good idea.  Now, the night before I leave, the idea of being away from my family and my church family for 2 weeks seems daunting.  I

Holy Moments with Mom

My mom went home to be with Jesus last week.  I don't say "I lost my mom" because lost means I don't know where she is. I know where she is.  Over the last couple of weeks, I've had time to reflect on some of the holy moments I shared with my mom.  I hope you'll forgive the length of my writing but I'll start with the last.  When we took my mom to the hospice center, I knew it wouldn't be long.  Sadly, with my line of work, I've been there before.  Albeit with other families, but I knew where we were.  It was decided that my sisters would return home (since they both had "regular" jobs) and I would stay the night with mom.  No sooner had my family left than I literally saw my mom begin to change.  Almost imperceptibly at first but I could tell she was sliding away from me.  I talked to her and sang along with her beloved Gaither music that we kept playing from her iPad.  I held her hand and told her some of the things I'll share bel

Back at it

Our First Family Minister to Families Cory Brand asked me if I had a blog.  I told him I did and sent him the link.  After the shame he heaped upon me that it has been a long, long time since I updated, I'm back to work.  Let's start here. At lunch yesterday, I had the opportunity to visit with some new friends.  One of our international partners brought them through Midland and they stayed at one of FBC's missionary houses.  I have no clue if their stories are true, but I have no reason to doubt them either, esp with their connection with our ministry partner.  Here's what I learned.   One of our guests is a trained engineer, trained at China’s version of MIT.  He came to faith in Christ while in school and wanted to come to Westminister Seminary in Philadelphia, but couldn’t get the proper paperwork in place.  Instead, he was working for the Chinese government and discipling believers at home.  It wasn’t long till he was caught and jailed for 8 years.  He got out