Our Mission Statement

Monday, November 16

numb, or not to be numb, that is the question


This week I proved to my self, once again, that I am not the man I was a few years ago. I know it is just part of the aging process, but I don’t like it one bit. And I bet most of you out there don’t either. Things you could do a few years ago can’t be done the same way today. Oh, sure, there are the freaks of nature, that, 20 years out of high school, are in better shape than they have ever been in. I am not talking about “those” people… I am talking to the normal, everyday people out there. The weekend warriors, the ones who think they “still have it.”

Now, before I get too far into this, let me explain that I didn’t do anything particularly out of the ordinary. I didn’t run 20 miles with one of the cross country guys in the dorm (like that would EVER happen), or bench press with the guy in the dorm that runs the weight gym off campus… nothing even remotely like it. Nor did I hurt myself taking a nap like some people have been known to do. Nope. I just picked up a large box incorrectly and hurt my back. Of course the box was 4 feet long, 3 feet wide, 1 foot deep, and weighed about 80 pounds.

So, that happened on Thursday. Friday I hobbled around feeling the love of the box that was still in the car where I had left it. Saturday I was able to hide the fact that I was still hurting. Sunday I was feeling better (Monty Python quote) so I decided to play 18 holes of golf. And surprisingly enough, I came back with my back hurting even more! Imagine that. You can go back to my initial statement if you want to…

Enter Margaret, stage left. Anyone who knows Margaret knows that sarcasm runs through her veins (evil blood as Tyler Steffy would say) and trying to get sympathy from her can at times be hard to do. Tonight however, was my lucky day. Not only did she not tell me how stupid I was for playing golf when I knew my back was hurt, she didn’t even tell me to “suck it up.” She instead gave me drugs. You know, Advil, that kind of stuff. And a little bitty pill that she called a muscle relaxer.

Oh my, in 20 minutes my back was pain free. It was amazing. I was walking around and bending and going about my business like nothing had ever happened. Fantastic. Incredible. Unbelievable. I loved it. We watched the Sunday night football game and everything was good. Everything was good for about 3 ½ hours. That was about the time the effects of the pill began to wear off. That is when I realized my back was still hurt. Basically, my body had been deceived. The medicine blocked the pain for a while but the problem (pulled muscle) was still there and was still very much hurt.

I am sure by now you are wondering why in the world I am talking about all of this. I really do have a point. Anyone who knows me knows that I tell elaborate stories to emphasize a point. And this one is no different. I will now take you to the Sunday morning assembly at church. Dr. Edwards, the pulpit preacher, delivered a politically incorrect sermon. It was quite good and at times I just wanted to stand up and shout “amen!” (But my back was hurting and I am not sure how well I would have jumped up… and I am not usually prone to doing stuff like that anyway so the word “awkward” comes to mind).

He was talking about Ephesians 6 and putting on the whole armor of God. Pretty standard stuff. But what was interesting was some of the stuff he pointed out that we should be standing up to fight against. Things (and organizations) that political correctness would deem inappropriate today. Things that a tolerant society would just leave alone so that there wouldn’t be any waves. Things that go against the very fabric of Christianity. And he named names too. And he simply asked the question, “Why are we not doing anything about it?” Good question.

Have we removed ourselves from the fight? Are we confused about our marching orders? Are we scared to enter the battle? Are we afraid we are going to lose? Are we afraid we are going to offend someone? Are we concerned about our image or reputation? Or, do we just NOT CARE. HAVE WE BECOME NUMB? Interesting questions.

Each Sunday we pack church buildings full of people. We are dressed right and we sing right and we pray right and we say the right things and we do the right things. We are timely and efficient. We sit through Bible classes and sermons and we hear the message of God presented to us over and over and over. And at the end of every sermon the invitation is offered and we stand and sing and might even sing all of the verses to “Just As I AM.” We have our closing prayer in which we ask God to “guide, guard, and direct us.” And we march out our beautiful sanctuaries, I mean church auditoriums, and live our lives the way we chose to live them. Numb.

Now you see, it is my observation, that there are many people that are members of our churches that are numb. Just like I was when I took that muscle relaxer. I was numb to the problem. I didn’t feel it and therefore it did not exist as far as I could tell. I did not do anything about my back because I did not feel anything for a while. And it is easy to ignore pain when you don’t feel it. And, it is easy for Christians to ignore things going on around us when we are numb to it as well.

We become numb to the profanity that is on TV today. Or the suggestive innuendos. Or the blatant sinful situations that are portrayed on TV, movies, and in magazines. We have become numb to the slang terms being used today. We have become numb to the things that are advertised on TV and in magazines. We have become numb to the harmful effects of things that re being legalized around our country. We have become to the life styles people are living all around us, even in the “Bible Belt.” We have learned to just block it out. Ignore it. Pretend as if it did not happen. After all, we do live in the age of political correctness. We should not offend anyone by addressing something that is right and wrong. After all, what standard would we use? The Bible?

We experience physical pain for a reason. Dr. Judy and Dr. Anna, physical therapists, would probably tell you that pain is the body’s way of telling you something is wrong! Even though pain hurts, it is helpful because it lets you know something is not right. Once the problem is fixed and dealt with properly, the pain goes away. Taking painkillers and muscle relaxers just masks the pain and does nothing for the problem. Our society is not going to get better all by itself. Moral issues will not fix themselves either. Why do you think Jesus said in John 15: 19-21, “If the persecuted Me they will persecute you, for they do not know the One who sent Me.” Matthew 5:10 tells us to rejoice, for they persecuted the prophets that came before you. That is why we are to put on the full armor of God, so that we can withstand the attacks that will come. The armor is not going to keep you from getting hurt, it will keep you from getting killed!

I remember the first day I played organized football. Middle school. I had played back yard football and was the Joe Montanna of my neighborhood. I was ready for the big time and I knew it. I had a cannon of an arm and the accuracy of a Patriot Missile. I remember going through line that day to get my equipment. Pads; helmet; jersey; pants; cleats; mouthpiece; etc. I put the pads in their respective places, thigh pads; knee pads; hip pads; tail bone pad; ear pads; shoulder pads, and suited up. Hmmmmm, bulky, awkward, restrictive. But cool. Very cool.

We warmed up, ran some laps, and I went to my first drill where full contact would be made. I was with the running backs and we went one on one with the linebackers. Piece of cake I thought. I faked left and went right and WHAM. Lights out. Coach Nunley was standing over me with smelling salts. I felt to see if any body parts were missing. Wow, the pain was unbelievable. And I got up and did it again. And again.. And again. When practice was over I went up to my coaches and asked them where the rest of my gear was… they obviously had forgotten to give it to me. I knew there had to be more pads because I had way too many places that were exposed!

They assured me I had everything I needed. The pads they gave me did not protect me from pain, they protected me from serious injury. It hurt to play football. But the pads did their job. And at the end of their tour of duty they were beat up and scarred. Battle scars. Reminders of the games and practices that I had gone though. I still have my helmet. I can probably tell you who we played the night I got that mark, or that scratch, or that nick. Your equipment should be beat up and worn out when you get finished with it. Otherwise, you didn’t use it! The same applies to the armor in Ephesians 6. Our spiritual armor should be beat up and worn out when we finish with it… after all, we are fighting in a war. If you don’t have beat up armor, you didn’t fight. And Jesus tells us that if we are not for Him, we are against Him. If we are not gathering we are scattering.

You are in the fight. You are on one side or the other. There is no neutral ground. You have armor that has been issued to you. It is your decision. You can fight. You can become numb. You can be captured. You can fight for Satan. Revelation 2:10: Remain faithful, even until the point of death, and I will give you a crown of life. Victory is found for those who take up their armor and fight! So, what are you going to do? Are you numb to what is going on around you? Or are you going to fight? The choice is yours and yours alone.

Have a great week. Go out and be a blessing to someone. Make a difference.


Wednesday, November 11

Sleep is for the weak...

It’s 6:30 am. For some of you, that is no big deal and you see 6:30 am all of the time (I am thinking of friends like Joe Roberts and Tim Hines). Others, 6:30 might be a tad bit early for you (I will not mention names here to protect those from public ridicule…). Being a dorm supervisor, staying up late every night is part of the job. Going to bed at 2:00 am is now common practice for me. So, as you might be able to figure out, 6:30 am is VERY early for someone who goes to bed sometime after 2:00 am. And for me, it has been an “all nighter.”

Last night I began working on Honduras plans and I decided to launch out and do something I have been meaning to do for a long time. I am still unpacking things from the move to Freed-Hardeman. We had literally dozens and dozens of boxes that had to be unpacked and I decided that not only would I unload them, I was going to go through and sort out things that needed to be tossed or given away. No easy task… try it your self someday when you have nothing to do. I went through everything we packed up IN the house and everything that was in storage. Oh yeah, stuff that has been boxed up for years. Nearly every box had a bunch of “why did we keep this?” stuff. Downsizing has been a good thing.

So, about 1:00 this morning I got on the computer and decided to do the same thing. I literally have thousands of photos on the computer and hundreds of documents. Stuff that has been on the computer for quite a while. Since the computer has been running slower and slower recently I decided it was time to do some cleaning on the hard drive. I figure that if I remove a bunch of this stuff it will speed the computer up. So I began organizing photos into files, deleting photos that were not up to par, and down loading the photos onto flash drives. It might have taken all night but I am so glad I did it! There just might be something to this organization thing…

And, as I mentioned earlier, I have been working on the Honduras plans. We are now just about 2 weeks away from the official kick off for the 2010 trip. During thanksgiving break the Torch application, rules sheet, and Spanish release form (for those under the rip old age of 18) will be ready to send out. As always, I will be glad to send the forms to anyone by email or my postal mail, all you have to do is contact me. Paperwork and trip deposits ($150.00) can be sent to me anytime after December 1. The deadline for deposits and paperwork is March 1st but I highly recommend that you send it in as soon as possible.

As I have mentioned before, we are expecting a large team this year. We always have a strong number of returning team members and this year I am expecting several new ones too. Although it is hard to make an accurate guess now, I do believe we will have somewhere in the 100+ range. Early indications from returning groups already have the estimate well over 80. It is so exciting to watch the team grow and to know the possibilities that await our team this summer. God is so good and is so faithful to see us through as we strive to do His will. I know that this summer will be no different.

We are now 18 days away from the November 29th election in Honduras. Not only will the citizens of Honduras be electing a new president, they will also be electing local and state officials and congress. AS we all know, the situation in Honduras is still far from over but congress and the Supreme Court of Honduras has shown unbending will to follow the letter of the law as stated in their constitution. Powers from around the world are less than 3 weeks away from deciding how they will treat the outcome of the elections. According to the La Tribuna, one of the largest newspapers in Honduras, the government is expecting over 600 officials from around the world to come to Honduras to witness the election process. Honduras will certainly be under the microscope as they attempt to transfer power to the next president. Interim president Roberto Micheletti has vowed that he will do everything within his power to assure a fair and legal vote will take place.

Once the election results are posted we will know, for the most part, what will be happening in Honduras for the next several months. I am hopeful and optimistic that things will go smoothly and we will be able to make our preparations for the trip this summer. There is no doubt that dozens and dozens of other groups will be doing the same thing. Playing the waiting game is killing me and I know it is you too, but we must be prayerful and patient as we allow this to play out. Like I said earlier, God is good all of the time and He will carry us through all of this. His hand is in this event and He is in control.

Relating to this, I mentioned that a “plan B” would be in place in the off chance that we will not be able to go to Honduras. I will be taking a small scout team down to Costa Rica in March to do a survey trip. In particular, we will be traveling to the southern part of Costa Rica to meet with local preachers that work in a town called Buenos Aires. There is a new congregation located there, less than 6 months old, meeting in a city of 67,000. During the trip we will be meeting with the preacher and his family and will go to see the town and surrounding area. This region of Costa Rica is agricultural and also the home to about 42,000 native Indians. This is one of the poorest areas of Costa Rica and the possibilities of work in this area appear to be in line with what we tend to do best. This area is certainly on the short list for new mission outreach by Torch and going this spring will help begin the process of taking a team there no later than 2011.

Time to sign off for now, work calls! I hope you all have a great week and that you continue to be a blessing to those you come in contact with on a daily basis. Ministry takes place everyday in many different forms. May God work through you to make a difference today.


Monday, November 2

water, pure, clean water

Water purification system at Dadasko Orphanage ......................Water purification system at Casa de Esperanza kkkkkkkkk
This past week Tim Hines traveled up to see me from Louisiana on his way to Florida. I know, Tennessee is not on the way to Florida. Tim knows that too. But, I am using his words. In reality it was two great friends getting together for a couple of days to see each other. We had time to talk about all kinds of stuff but mainly it was a pow-wow about Honduras, Torch Missions, IRC, and life in general. Since the trip was short we did not have time to solve many of the world’s problems this go around. Maybe next time. It was a great visit except for the monsoon rain that kept us from playing a round of golf at the Jack Nicolas course just outside Henderson at the Chickasaw State Park. Of course I didn’t lose a couple dozen golf balls either.

Tim and Gayle Davidson have ramped up their efforts to get supplies shipped down to Honduras during the political crisis. With the help of many, several 40’ containers are scheduled for delivery soon. Mark Connell unloaded a container that just arrived last week full of food, clothes, 5 gallon buckets, and other supplies ($686,000.00 from the Melbourne Church of Christ). A container from the Mitchell, Indiana congregation full of corn (42,000 pounds!) and supplies is in port in New York and should go down this week. Another container is in port in Virginia about to go down that is full of medical supplies ($2,100,000.00). Nearly 3.5 million dollars in aide in just a few weeks with more coming soon. Praise God for He is good.

In other news, our water purification system project is now complete! Steve Gilstrap, from Mitchell, Indiana, along with 4 others, went back to Honduras to complete the job we started this summer before the mass exodus from Honduras. The week long trip turned out to be quite successful with a lot of good work being done is a short amount of time. The group stayed at the Mission House and worked along side Mark Connell installing the 2 water purification systems and getting other work done as well. Steve even got to experience the thrill of driving in Honduras and the frustration of being stopped by the Honduran police. He did not go into specifics and said not to ask any questions. I will just leave it at that… (May I add, been there, done that….)

The water system at Casa de Esperanza was a great install and will serve their needs perfectly. The system went in as designed and planned and will serve the facility for years to come. The install at Dadasko was much more challenging. Because of the way their water storage system is built the water purification system had to be installed in between the 2 large holding tanks that they have on their property. Because Dadasko suffers from power outages on a regular basis the system will not be able to operate 100% as it is intended. However, there is little doubt that the water the orphanage now has is far superior to what they have been using in the past. What a blessing to know that the children now have good, clean water to drink!

Steve’s crew also built 3 houses while they were down in Honduras. They built in 3 different locations allowing the team to see 3 different parts of the city. This small group got to see what the main team did not… work in the city. Steve commented how drastically different it was working in the city as compared to working on the mountain in the La Tigra Rain forest. They also went to the city dump one day to serve food for the community that lives and works there. Hearts were broken as they say the poorest of the poor trying to survive in the harshest of environments Honduras has to offer. Steve said it truly was a life-changing trip.

Plans continue to unfold as Nathan and I plan the 2010 trip. Nate and Karen will be up here soon and we will have our first “sit down” planning session. As I hear from more and more of you it only makes me even more excited about the plans for this summer. After all of these years I still get fired up and pumped about going back to Honduras to work.

3 ½ weeks away from the official kick off for the 2010 trip. Applications and trip information will be ready to be sent out the week of Thanksgiving break. I hope you are making your plans, marking your calendars, and have asked off of work. Can you believe it is already November? Take care and I will write again soon. Take courage my friends, God is in control. Dios te bendiga