Tuesday, January 29, 2008

sore throats

It started Friday--I could feel it coming--atacking my throat with itchiness, scratchiness, occasional pain, and a violent onslaught of mucuos. I know, it's not a pretty picture...but it is what it is, and it happens almost every winter at least once.

Sunday morning I awakened with my throat raw, my sinus cavity filled, and my voice raspy and weakened even though I was deliberate and intentionally quiet on Saturday--a difficult challenge for me any day of the week. But it was a huge church day with an important comgregational meeting, a special worship service and a potluck to follow. And I like potlucks--not so much for the food (I am always at the end of the line and it is usually "slim pickins")--but for the fellowship. People talk more when they are eating!

I made it through my sermon and headed for the potluck line just thankful I finished. It is amazing how God blesses what we do--however scratchy and raspy it may sound--when we are focused on simply serving Him.

It also reminds me that God is the one who makes the difference. No matter how eloquent we think we are or how resonant the sound of our voices (God, help me...), it is the work of the Holy Spirit alone that translates the message. God can use me, if He chooses, and He can use me even if I have a "sore throat". To God be the glory!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

snow advisory

The weather alert feature on my computer just advised me of snow storms in the outlying higher areas with accumulations of over a foot in new snow possible tonjight and tomorrow. At 1000 feet I am just a few miles away rom the magical 2500-3000 foot barrier where the snow is actually measurable on the ground. the cold wind and rain remind me it is only a few miles away, literally around the corner from. My secretary lives about twenty-five miles away and shoveled out of a foot of snow to get to work this morning at 3500 feet!

The storm advisory warnings are issued to encourage us not to venture up into the higher elevations due to road conditions and possible threats to safety. It's enough for me to stay nestled in the comfortable confines of Jackson and sutter Creek, which layat the base of the Sierra Nevadas that house the winter snow.

Occasionally I like to venture out into the snowy conditions, head up nearby Highway 88 and view the snow. My four-wheel drive vehicle provides me with a measure of confidence, but I am not a "veteran" of driving in the hazardous snow and black ice. I trust the warnings issued by those who understand the condition of the roads. A coupl of weeks ago I experimented on some icy roads and the results were scary, to say the least. I was in "untried" territory.

Sometimes we think it is adventurous to ignore the warning signs and to explore areas declared "off limits" or unsafe. God's Word is full of road markers warning against the potential dangers lurking in the shadows on the pathway of life. These are in place to protect us from danger, injury, and even destruction. remember the words "There is a way that seems right to man but it leads to destruction"? These are not intended by God to limit our happiness, zeal for life and enoyment of His creation. But God knows the road. And it would be good for us to pay attention to the warnings of His Word.

I am not driving up-country today. More snow has fallen and the weather advisory today is to avoid drving on the icy wet roads unless absoultely necessary.

I feel safer already...

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

micah and audrey

Kicking a soccer ball...a key to evangelism. For five hundred boys in Kenya their passion for soccer has ignited a vision within the hearts of Micah and Audrey McElveen for an opportunity to reach them with the gospel.

Three years ago Micah traveled to Africa as a young man, and so moved by the plight of the children, asked himself the question, "What can I do to make a difference here?" The result of that question has culminated in the organization of Vapor Sports , and the development of a template for ministry that Micah, along with his new wife, Audrey, have vowed to take to the needy places of the world. The slums of Nairobi, which comprise the second largest skidrow of the world, have become the target of their first outreach. Already twenty trained and paid nationals, along with twenty volunteers, administrate a soccer porgram for over five hundred boys there who gather together five days a week to pursue the passion of Kenyan children--soccer. Along with the soccer leagues established for tiered age groups for competition, Micah has instituted a Bible study program that is a part of the two and a half hour daily regimen. This totally indigenous work, coupled with a local church, provides a framework for touching the lives of young Kenyan children and re-directing the course of their lifes into something productive and something hopeful.

Miocah calls it a "niche" ministry, and because it meets a specific need, local officials have allowed them access into schools, given them exposure over television and interviewed them over local radio stations. How has it been received? As they "kicked off" their last season, over 2,000 Kenyan children came to sign up for the 500 spots available. It is incredibly sad to think that 75% of those who came had to be turned away.

A local church has provided land that has been turned into soccer fields and funds are now being raised for the expansion of this exciting outreach. Freddie,a four year old discovered in the slums, has become the poster child for this ministry. "Freddie stories", Micah's idea, bring laughter and tears when the details of his life are unfolded to reveal a small child fending for himself with a disinterested father and literally living like an animal to survive. Now adopted by the Vapor Sports family, Freddie is emerging from his hopeless existence into a life of once unimagined opportunity through the hope of the gospel shared by those who love Jesus.

Micah's vision for children and young people has been fueled by the verse, "Life is but a vapor that appears for a moment and then vanishes...", and is encapsulated in these three words--"Life is short!" We have only so much time to make a difference, and Micah and Audrey's passion for investing their lives is taking them across the country to build a financial base for their dream of establishing similar ministries around the world.

I'm in...how about you?

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Christmas reflections

On Christmas morning we left early for the airport and flew to Dallas, Texas to spend the holidays with my daughter, Jennifer, and her family, and my son, Jeff,and his family. Included in the deal in a son-in-law, TJ (fatal flaw is he loves the Dallas Cowboys) and daughter-in-law, Jeannette (best quality is she loves the San Francisco 49ers). The frosting on the cake is three grandchildren--JJ(8), Milla (just turned 5) and Owen (2).

Back in the office two days later I am still smiling...

*I watched the 49ers with Jeff and Jeannette, get hammered by the Browns, but in between grunts and groans of disapproval, revelled in their company.

*I played Wii, a relatively new computerized television interactive game, with various family members and was consistently "skunked" by my eight year old grandson, JJ.

*I was joined in bed several mornings by Milla, my five year old granddaughter, the one with the smile and beautiful dimples.

*I took walks every day with my wife--and assorted family members--and felt rejuvenated by the cold Dallas morning air.

*I ate out at several restuarants but especially enjoyed the home-cooked meals prepared for us, including barbecued hamburgers and Asian lettuce wraps. I also had my allotment of Blue Bell homemade vanilla ice cream, a Texas delicacy.

*I sat in church with my son and his family and was excited to see that his family is a vital part of a great church in which they serve.

*I was reminded how blessed I am to have healthy children and grandchildren who love the Lord. This gives me a huge sense of peace.

We shed a few tears when we left. We are not sure when we will see the Dallas group again. Needlss to say, I msised my daughter, Andie, and her husband, Jason, who spent some of the holidays in Cleveland, and my son, Greg, who now lives in London. I dream of the day we can all get together!

We met earlier in San Luis Obispo with Bev's sons, Tim (Susie) and Chad (Julie, seven months pregnant), and seven of our grandchildren--Sage, Kyle, Eden, Julianne, Zeke, Nate and Hakken. Opening presents with them was exciting and delightfully noisey, to say the least. We look forward to seeing them more often since they are closer-by and sharing a few days of "Cousins Camp" with all of our granchildren over the age of four--that's eight of them--though the Texas group probably can't join us.

Anyway, thanks for letting me share what keeps me smiling--wonderful memories of children and grandchildren--who we love very much!