Teaching Men How to Fight Like a Girl
What a difference a year makes. In December of 2009 Dana and I were making plans for a trip to Fayetteville, Arkansas. She was scheduled for surgery on the 10th, and we were trying to get everything in order to make the journey north and prepare for the recovery that would follow. Her surgery had been postponed month after month since May, and to say the least we were ready to "Gitter dun."
Thanks to Facebook, I was able to reconnect with hundreds of people and enlist them to P.U.S.H. (Pray Until Something Happened). After months of delays, the stone began to roll up hill. Within 72 hours of contacting people we have not seen in years, God began to answer their prayers. We had a fine surgeon become available to us, Dr. Michael Cross of Fayetteville. We were surprise to discover that his head nurse was a delightful young lady that we had known since she was a teenager. We had a hospital surgical room open up and a date for surgery. We had a place to stay that was five minutes from the doctor's office, and seven minutes from the hospital. Bob and Sharna Arthur made their home and hearts available to us and provided incredible hospitality to us for a week. They remain two very special people in our lives.
A year later I am seated in our new home in Fort Worth, Texas, listening to Christmas music and watching Dana unpack Christmas decorations. She has always been the reigning czarina of Christmas, and watching her turn Thanksgiving into Christmas is a modern marvel. She has a touch that few people have for making this season a special time of year for her family and friends.
December holds so much meaning for us on more than one level. Our first child, Ashley, was born on December 6th while we were serving as Student Pastors at First Baptist Church of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Any parent will understand what I mean when I say, Christmas has never been the same since she arrived. Dana always has the tree up and the halls decked by Ashley's birthday. My assignment is hauling Thanksgiving boxes out and trading spaces in the garage with the Christmas decorations that Dana will need to make the transition complete.
I have always enjoyed Christmas, but this year, I am so pleased to be heading into this season with a quick glance in the rear view mirror at the events of a year ago. The oncologist and her surgeon have seen her in recent days and given her a clean bill of health. The reports could not be any more encouraging. As you can imagine, we paused at Thanksgiving to say a heart felt, "Thank you Lord!" We are also grateful to God for giving us a future and a hope.
In the past five months we have resigned from thirty years in the pastorate, sold our home, moved to another city, set up a non-profit ministry, applied for 501c3 status from the IRS, hired a CPA, driven 4,500 miles to seven states to lead prayer conferences that equip people to utilize prayer as the foundation for family worship. We have a few weeks here at home during December to regroup before we head into a very aggressive schedule for January through March. We will soon be on the road to Nebraska, Mississippi, Ohio, Maine, Georgia, and Texas. In between these stateside ministry opportunities will be our first trip to Israel January 30th to February 9th. Our host will be Gov. Mike Huckabee. We are very excited!
These next four weeks remind me of the lull before the storm. I probably should be asking for prayer for my strength to complete a half marathon in Dallas on December 5th. My daughters talked me into this one. Even though I am 71 pounds lighter than I was a year ago, I am not ready to run this race, but I am going to do it anyway. Ready or not here I come. That seems to be our family motto. If I knew how to write it in Latin, I would put it on our family crest. This would be appropriately emblazoned over the face of a calf looking at a new gate.
Don't get me wrong. Dana and I love our lives. After three years of the fight with breast cancer, I am beginning to see why she has called this battle her "Great Adventure." We wouldn't have it any other way. God has proven Himself faithful in so many ways in the past five months of this new journey of faith. We have seen him open doors of service, and provide for our needs in the most unusual ways.
I have found the meaning of the words, "Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am." (Philippians 4:11) The old King James Version used the language, "Whatsoever state" in place of "circumstances." As we have traveled from state to state throughout this great nation, I have been comforted by the old English interpretation of Paul's words. I know he did not mean to say he has learned to be content in the states of Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Virginia, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Nevada, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Kansas, Iowa, Minnesota and Ohio. However, we have still learned to be content traveling and trusting God to be at work long before we arrive on the scene in a new place of ministry. We have also had the joy of seeing him provide the means to minister even when there is no visible sign of support in front of us.
As we approach this season of Christmas, we are more encouraged than we have been in years. As we have interacted with believers all over the United States, we have been impressed with the length and breadth of the work that God is doing. His Holy Spirit is not confined to the limits of what Southern Baptists will allow Him to do in their lives, churches and denominational machinery. He is touching lives of people and bypassing stagnant pulpits, impotent hierarchies and gridlocked bureaucracies of all kinds of established denominations. God is stirring in the hearts of people across denominational lines and heritages who are hungry for a movement of God. I am thrilled to be a part of something that only He can get credit for. Join with me as we pray for a Spiritual Awakening that will bring about genuine repentance and transformed lives through the power of the Holy Spirit.
"The blessing of Pentecost may be lost, and it is always lost when obedience fails. The Spirit-filled must be Spirit-ruled. We are the ministers of the Spirit through Whom the supply is conveyed. Those who are greatly used of God have no monopoly on the Holy Ghost; they are mighty through God because the Spirit has a monopoly of them." Samuel Chadwick