Making Bad Decisions

No one ever woke up in the morning and said — I think I will make some bad decisions today.  The truth is we all make bad decisions. I have often said that if I could go back and remake five decisions, it would change the outcomes of my life dramatically.

The often quoted axiom goes like this — How do you learn to make good decisions? By making bad decisions. Every time I hear this I think — this is terrible. A wrong decision can be very costly. Is it really worth the price to be able to make better decisions? I would respond with a resounding, YES!  The ability to make better decisions in the future is of inestimable worth.

Poor decisions come about for a variety of reasons. I would argue that at the end of the day it all gets back to one thing  — a failure to love. The essence of God’s love is found in I Corinthians 13:

Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”

The Bible is very clearGod is love. The commission we have been given in Ephesians 4 is to “be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.”

In this regard love and wisdom are directly connected. Wise decisions always flow out of loving actions and attitudes.  So, making a bad decision opens a door to the potential of being a more wise and loving person. It is a great example of energy transformation — “all things working together for good for those who love God.” God’s plan is to redeem all things including our bad decisions along the way — and in the process, transform us into the image of Christ.

Church Development Cohort
March 13-15 a dozen pastors representing eight churches gathered at Vineyard Church in Baton Rouge. Jon Maurer, pastor of Vineyard Baton Rouge, invited the participants to join him for a time of interaction and learning about leading a healthy church. Jon gave me an opportunity to teach on Tuesday. I did a session to overview Natural Church Development. The following day I taught a session on the Trinitarian compass. I was very pleased to have this opportunity. What I shared seemed well received. I was able to use my spiritual gifts to help build the church — what is better than that?

Wrapping Up
Delores and I often reflect on the privilege we have to work at our calling. We appreciate the part you have played in our journey.

Gratefully yours,

Scott, for the two of us

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Sacrifice Releases Power

This turn of phrase has been a core life concept to me as long as I can remember. Loving people in Jesus name requires this viewpoint. Along these lines Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s description of the Kingdom of God has been a big inspiration for me.

“It is a kingdom stronger than war and danger, a kingdom of power and authority, signifying eternal terror and judgment to some, and eternal joy and righteousness to others, not a kingdom of the heart, but one as wide as the earth, not transitory but eternal, a kingdom that makes a way for itself and summons men to itself to prepare its way, a kingdom for which it is worth while risking our lives.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer Letters & Papers from Prison

I find this extremely clarifying. The reality of this eternal kingdom gives me reason to sacrifice so that the power of God and the love of God might move through me to others. You and I are the hands and feet of Jesus in the world. Jesus lived a sacrificial life and he calls us to this life so his living power can benefit those we love for his sake.

Financial Update
Last July I shared an update on our ministry funding. Delores and I found our hearts warmed by your response. Several people stepped forward with increased giving, causing us to be filled with gratitude.

The overall picture is encouraging to us. Once again the increases in donations basically offset the loses we experienced since July. Additionally, gifts given toward our end-of-year funding request helped wonderfully. Our appeal was to make up a $20,000 shortfall for 2016. The generosity expressed toward this need resulted in gifts totally $11,048. This is a great help and has allowed us to receive our full salary checks since the first of the year. Thank you for this expression of love and trust. God’s provision through you makes a real and practical difference for us — and overflows in much thanksgiving to our Heavenly Father.

I mentioned in the July letter that we planned to do some fund-raising work in the fall. We have postponed this in light of the other challenges of our current season. The reality is that we still need about $1000 per month in additional income for this to work well. Please join us in prayer in this regard.

And Finally
I conclude with the words of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 4,
“Not that I seek the gift; but I seek the fruit which increases to your credit — And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus –– the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your Spirit.”

Always thanking God for you,

Scott, for the two of us

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The Irresistible Church

It is a beautiful thing when a church becomes contagious. A congregation that increasingly reflects the image of Christ becomes more and more attractive to the unchurched.
Ephesians 4:13-16 speaks of the church growing into the full measure of the stature of Christ. This prospering of the church takes place when the individual believers are all contributing to church development according to each one’s God given design. What sets the stage for this to happen?  – – Simply this — Empowering Leadership.

This Ephesians passage puts it right out there. God gives gifted leaders for one reason. And that reason is to empower others to fulfill their God given role in church development. Church leaders can and do have many responsibilities. But the heart of the matter is simply this — equip the saints to do the work of ministry in building the church. When leaders practice this “bottom up” leadership approach, the church looks more and more like Jesus in the world. When Jesus is seen for who he really is, he draws people to himself. All people are made by him, and for him and the deepest longing of the human heart is to find rest through intimacy with him.

Jesus has a plan for the church to prosper and that plan is the spiritual gifts of his people. If you are a church leader, equip the saints. If you are a follower, use your gifts to build the church.  It is really as simple as that. And…if your leader is not empowering you in this way, find a leader who is.

The Principle Applied

Last Sunday evening I had the privilege of using my spiritual gifts to help build the church. I led a group of leaders from Vineyard Church Baton Rouge through exercises to identify core values and from these to craft a mission statement. I was impressed about how eagerly this group engaged the work on this discovery process.
Delores and I love to say — the body of Christ is really smart. The mind of all of us together is better than any one mind. And, when people are given a voice — they really shine.

Summing Up

This verse comes to mind as I reflect on these things. “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain”.   I Corinthians 15:58

My exhortation to you — use your spiritual gifts to help build the church. Research shows that you will be happier and more contented if you do.

Scott, for the two of us

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Christmas Again!!

Christmas Again!!

My husband and friends could tell you I am not usually a sentimental person. But for some reason, I have been thinking a lot about my folks and sisters and Christmases past. I want to take this opportunity to thank the Lord for my parents and how loving and good they were to me all those years growing up. I know Scott feels the same way about his folks. As the weather gets cooler, I’m reminded of drinking a “hot Dr. Pepper” served by Scott’s mom one time on a cold wintry day when we were dating. And the decorations on main street in our small town added so much to the season. Ah…thank you Lord for great memories! I’m sure some of you have treasured memories also.

May the Lord bless you this year with much awareness that you are loved by the Lord, family and (if you are part of a church, by the church family). May you be truly blessed as you reflect on the wonder of God’s provision and plan for you his child. He came as the Christ child and he will return as the Conquering King!  To God be the glory!  He sent us his son!!

This is Delores, for the two of us.


“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

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A Thankful Heart

november-2016Scott and Delores — Reporting from the Field

Thanksgiving Day is Near
What a great time of year! Some of my best family memories growing up are from the Thanksgiving holidays. And what a great concept — a holiday to focus on thankfulness. One of the most powerful forces on earth is gratitude.

Over the years I have seen reports on gratitude research. Those studying this concept report great benefit for the person practicing gratitude. Brain chemistry is significantly improved by expressing thanks. Some of these benefits actually improve brain health over time.

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let all men know your forbearance. The Lord is at hand.” Philippians 4:5

Our hearts are inclined toward gratitude when we have confidence of God’s nearness to us and his love for us. We are assured about the magnitude of this love in Romans 8:39, “Nothing in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord”. This is the ultimate foundation for our gratitude — God’s unshakable love for us.

Our Blessing to You
In this holiday season, may you experience God’s love in a way that will fill you with gratitude.

Most warmly yours,
Scott, for the two of us

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A Growing Passion for Prayer

“I love the Lord because he hears my prayers and answers them. Because he bends down and listens. I will pray as long as I breathe!” Psalm 116:1&2

We believe God is stirring something afresh in us; a deepening love for intercessory prayer. Let me explain how most of our mornings go when we are at home. We wake early and go for our bike ride before it gets too hot here in steamy Baton Rouge. Then we have breakfast and clean up. After that I go to our bedroom and Scott goes to our home office . We spend time with the Lord individually and then meet back together to discuss new thoughts and insights from our study and reflections. Then we pull out our prayer lists and ask the Lord to direct our prayer time. Over the years the word has gotten out that we love to pray for others. We have a steady stream of people asking us to support them in prayer for the needs in their lives.

In this present season of ministry we are asking the Lord to make us aware of any adjustments he has for us in our work. Along with our ministry of helping churches become even healthier, Scott and I can sense God stirring within us once again a desire to participate more extensively as intercessors. This love for intercessory prayer really blossomed while we were part of the Intercessory Team with Church Resource Ministries. We feel blessed to have the privilege of holding others up before God’s throne of grace. As we hear of answers to prayer, our hearts rejoice over God’s love and faithfulness to  his children.

 

 

August Plans

We are scheduled to leave for California August 5. We currently plan to be away from Baton Rouge for two months. Your prayers would be greatly appreciated as we engage with the churches, pastors, friends and supporters along our way.

     This is Delores, reporting from the field

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Being what you are made for

Malcolm Gladwell writes books I really enjoy reading…and rereading. I am an “idea person” and Malcolm Gladwell is of like stripe. He has a knack at blending interesting ideas into a new way of seeing otherwise familiar things.

As one idea guy to another, this can be marvelous. Now the goal of an idea guy is to have an ever-increasing grasp of things that help in the understanding of the big picture. And, I am that too…a “big picture guy”, the macro view of things is the way my mind works.

Now it is worth saying, parenthetically, that the core orientations I have are a direct result of my spiritual gifts.Three of my dominant gifts are apostle, wisdom and knowledge…and these result in me being an idea guy and a holistic thinker.

One thing that fascinates me is the further I go down the path of understanding and using spiritual gifts, the more I recognize and appreciate that that has always been who I am. Even in childhood these gifts were the lens through which I saw the world.

I contribute to the building up of the body of Christ when I offer these perspectives in a humble way. My prevailing  question to all the Christians I meet is, what gifts has God put in you for the building up of his church? When you know this, you know your calling. And this is important because living out one’s calling is what each believer is responsible for. I pray this is an encouragement and exhortation for all who read it.


my 1947 PontiacFifty-one years ago on May 28th, Delores and I were married. We got in my 1947 Pontiac and headed to new Mexico where I spent the summer working for the U.S. Forest Service. This began the adventure of our life together that has brought us to this day…and what a ride it has been! Like the Blues Brothers, Delores and I have been on a “mission for God” all these years.


People Plus God = Ministry

Jesus captured our hearts in a big way a few months after our wedding .. and the rest is history.

A great number of people have passed through our lives since 1965. Delores and I are thankful for all the people who have responded positively to our leadership over the decades. And, to say the obvious, all these people have contributed to our journey toward Christlikeness and heaven in innumerable ways. Christian relationships and the community they create are the heart and soul of the spiritual journey. We are eternally grateful for all the ministry given and received.

Family News

In March Delores and I made our third trip this year to Oklahoma. On March 17 my brother and I moved my mom, Sue, into assisted living. Since last June she has been on hospice care and has had around-the-clock in-home help. Because of some improvement in her ability to function, assisted living became an option. Even with her worsening dementia, she seems to be functioning reasonably well in her new setting.

Delores’ mom, Klova Dee, continues to receive good care in the nursing home where she is a resident. We are thankful for God’s provision of loving people in her life.

Thank you, friends, for your continued love and interest in our lives and ministry.

This is Scott, reporting…for the two of us

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Our God Reigns — All the Time!

scott_delores_2016In this wonderful Easter season, I am so grateful to Jesus for eternal life and for power in him to meet life’s challenges. Scott and I continue to be pressed rather hard on several fronts.

The ongoing love and support of friends and family has lightened our load and strengthened our hearts. Thank you for being the heart and hands of Jesus to us in many ways.

Jesus is all we need…but so often his love and care is provided by his children for one another.


sueThis is Sue, Scott’s Mother

On March 11 we received a defining call from Scott’s brother. He had concluded that it was time to transition Sue to an assisted living facility. Since last June she has been on hospice and has had full time in-home care givers. In light of this development, Scott and I traveled to Oklahoma to help with the transition. Thursday morning, March 17, the brothers informed Sue of the change and moved her in that afternoon. She received the news gracefully and for this we are most grateful.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday we had the task of going through everything in her home to prepare for an estate sale. This was really difficult emotionally.

We arrived back in Baton Rouge the evening of March 23 completely exhausted. In all of this we have found God to be our very present help in this time of trouble.


everett

Grandson, Everett, enjoying glasses his dad made for him

Jesus is the Answer — No Matter the Circumstances

“I am the way, the truth, and the life.” “Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, let your requests be made known to God, and the peace that passes understanding shall keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Two wonderful verses I memorized long ago that have served me well. He is enough!


 

This is Delores, for both of us

 

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Keep on – Keeping on, or — Remember Nehemiah

keep-onSometimes I just need giant encouragement. Are you ever like that? I thought I would get “so mature” that life would not seem hard, even if it was. But to my surprise, life seems hard when it is hard. That is usually when my loving Lord looks down and decides I need to be challenged and encouraged to “keep on keeping on”.

So one day I was reading Nehemiah 3 & 4 and there it was! You probably know the story. Nehemiah received the news of the difficult time his people in Jerusalem were experiencing. He immediately began to grieve and pray to God for help for the people. The people were disgraced because the walls were broken down and the gates had been burned. This news upset Nehemiah so much that he was unable to hide his sadness from King Artaxerxes whom he served. In his prayer, he asked for favor from the king and permission to return to Jerusalem to help rebuild it. God answered that prayer and sent him home to Jerusalem!!

Upon his return, Nehemiah encountered all kinds of troubling problems which I will not go into here. BUT, he DIDN’T STOP! I decided I would call those chapters, “Nehemiah the Determined” or “Nothing Will Stop Us!”

The following verse vividly portrays Nehemiah’s attitude about rebuilding. “We all slept in our clothes — And each one kept his spear in his hand, even when getting water”. I was impressed and challenged with this man. I want to be like him! I noticed he spent no time bemoaning how working with one hand slowed down the effort! Wow! What a determined guy!

Allow me to encourage you and me: remember Nehemiah and “keep on keeping on”.


Racial Healing — Huge Challenge — How to Help

As Scott and I continue our study about racial issues in America, we are greatly stretched and challenged. We are asking how we can help make a difference. This is a topic on many of our minds. An excellent book we have just finished and which we highly recommend is America’s Original Sin — Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America by Jim Wallis.


Mother News

This is my beautiful mother-in-lawmy beautiful mother-in-law all fixed up to go to church. Now this is certainly a scene for rejoicing! Sue has not been able to attend church for months. We can’t thank God enough for the precious women who stay with her. They just love her. Pam and her daughter, Addie, take turns staying with  Sue nights and weekends. The thing that stands out to me is how respectful they are of my mother-in-law. If they think Sue wants to do something or that something (like going to church) means a lot to her, Pam and Addie “make it happen”. Thank you God for these two women and the other ladies who care for her daily.unnamed2

Since I wrote last, we have been able to make a quick trip to Oklahoma. During our visit the the three “Shaw girls” were able to drive to Waurika and visit with our sweet momma. It was the first time all three of us could do this together and it was extra special for me. There are so many things to thank God for. I shout out a special thanks for my mom and my sisters.

In closing, no matter how hard things are, Jesus promises to give us everything we need for life and godliness.

So be encouraged. God is there for each of us and just waits for us to ask him for help.

Delores, for the two of us

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Change! Who Needs It?

Or, maybe the question is, who really wants it?

One answer is — God’s people. Over the years Delores and I have related to thousands of people in a wide variety of churches. There are several things that bind the people in these churches together. The first is how much they love their churches. They have remained in their churches because the upside of things in the church outweighed the downside.

But having said people love their churches does not mean that the don’t want their churches to change. In fact, there is a universal desire for their churches to improve and be more successful.

A mantra around the Horn household is — the body of Christ is really smart. The people who are involved and committed to their churches know what’s up. The health survey we use with churches is based on taking church members seriously. The presupposition of the survey is that the people in the church really get it.  The survey shows respect by asking a person to tell “his/her story” about the church.

In our years of service, Delores and I have observed a consistent pattern. The individual Christian and their leaders do not tend to connect the need of the church to change with their own personal need for change. In other words, they can identify an organizational barrier but often do not relate it directly to their own personal growth journey.

It may be a strong application of the splinter in another’s eye and a beam in our own.

Jesus made a big point of this for a reason. It is usually easier for me to recognize your need for change than it is for me to recognize my need for change. In fact, my need to change actually sensitizes me to your need to change.

The challenging job we have is to encourage people to come to terms with this — my church will change when I change. It seems that in the end of the day the most righteous prayer of all is, God, change me.

Scott, for the two of us


Family News

unnamed

Since we have been mentioning our mothers’ failing health, I thought I would include a couple of pictures of some of our favorite people. The picture of me and my mother was taken shortly before she became home-bound. She is now in hospice and has round-the-clock care.

unnamed(1)

This second picture is of Delores, her mom, Klova Dee, and her nephew, Jason. Klova Dee is now in a nursing home 60 miles from our hometown. We stop to see her in Waurika when we make our pilgrimages back and forth.  It is hard on Delores knowing she is so far from family or friends.

In closing, change is to be expected as part of life.

As you look into 2016, may you be blessed and may you face change and uncertainty with an expectant excitement that God’s plans are for good and not for evil for those who love him.

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2015 — A Year of Challenges!

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Thus comes the admonishment of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 4.

We have found it a challenge to stay in the “rejoice posture” many times this year and for a variety of reasons. But here we are today with refreshed eternal perspective about our experience with trouble and loss — and God’s grace and provision. We have made it through and have experienced personal growth in the process. And isn’t that the point of all the give and take — to become more like Jesus, the second Adam, fully human in every way?

Delores and I have joined some of you in prayer for the trials and troubles you have faced. And you have reported that you have found God’s grace to be sufficient just as we have. The truth is, God’s grace is always the “backstop” that never fails.

“This God, his way is perfect; the promise of the Lord proves true. He is a shield to those who take refuge in him.” Psalm 18:30


Transition to The Global Mission

In October Delores and I resigned from Church Resource Ministries, effective December 31. We are thankful for the 24-year journey with CRM and especially the good times with fellow staff. As you may know we have made a “lateral” move to a new mission agency, The Global Mission. We are excited about this new association and are looking forward to what God has for us with this new beginning.The nature of our ministry focus will remain the same — to help individuals, groups and churches move toward ever greater health and fruitfulness in their callings.

Our Southern California friends, Dave and Anne Brodsky, founded TGM in 2006. I am grateful that one of Dave’s core values is to help maximize God’s calling in those he leads. All the work of ministry Delores and I do is deeply rooted in this shared value. It is one of many reasons why Dave and TGM are a good fit.

Delores and I have enjoyed a lot of shared experience with Dave over our years at Crossline Community Church. The two of us participated in a short-term mission trip to Israel in 2007 with Dave and a team from Crossline. In 2013 I joined a short-term mission team that Dave led to Haiti. God has used all this as part of his leadership for this time.

For those of you who are interested in joining us financially, click on this link:

https://tgm.webconnex.com/horn


Merry Christmas!

Last, but not least, Delores and I wish you a very Merry Christmas! May your time with those you love be blessed with the love, joy and peace that Christ came to bring.

Thanking God for you,

Scott, for the two of us

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I was published on Friday!!

publishedCRM publishes a Friday Devotional each week.. I am delighted to report that they chose something I wrote to publish for last Friday. I wanted to share my following devotional with any of you who have not seen it.


SCRIPTURE READING

Then he went off from them about the distance of a stone’s throw and knelt down and prayed. ‘Father,’ he said, ‘if you will, take this cup of suffering away from me. Not my will, however, but your will be done.’ An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. In great anguish he prayed even more fervently; his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

– Luke 22:41-44


MEDITATION

My mom turns 90 this month. She has dementia. She knew me the last time I saw her, but she can’t remember what was said two minutes ago. As you can imagine, having a conversation with her can be a challenge.

Due to a stroke she had a few years ago, Mom is unable to walk. Unfortunately, she doesn’t remember she cannot walk. Because of the confusion, she tries several times a day to get out of her wheelchair, which sometimes results in her falling. Fortunately, Mom has tough bones and out of the 70+ times she has fallen, she has not broken a thing!

The skilled nursing facility where she resides describes her as “feisty”. My sisters and I know they are being kind in their description. Mom was “uninvited” from two previous facilities. This one is not as convenient to get to, but the upside is they are understanding and kind about her behavior. We are confident their humane treatment of Mom is a direct answer to prayer. We are asking God to allow her to remain where she is until he calls her home.

I always knew my mom to be a patient and loving person — ready and willing to serve her family and church. She was a quiet woman, always ready to listen. It is difficult to watch such a shift in her personality. In my human reasoning, I wrestle with God about why he is keeping her here.

When I am able to visit her every six months or so, my mind and spirit are left with the imprint of her frightened look when I kiss her goodbye.

What do I pray for my mom?

It’s her suffering I want God to remove — and mine — and my sisters’.

Jesus had some of those same feelings when he said, “If you will, take this cup of suffering away from me.” But he submitted to his father and said, “Not my will, however, but your will be done.” God heard his cry and sent an angel.

“An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.”

I notice the angel didn’t change the circumstances, but perhaps gave him strength to be able to pray fervently and endure what was ahead. God sometimes sends me “angels of encouragement” in the women I talk to from my mom’s facility.

”He prayed even more fervently.”

I ask myself, what did he pray for more fervently? Perhaps he was praying for courage, acceptance, or the ability to trust his father. And so I turn again to prayer:

“Father, help me to trust you and leave my momma in your hands alone. Help me to understand that you see her and love her, and that time is never lost or wasted with you.”

QUESTIONS FOR APPLICATION

What in your life right now feels not “fixable”? How does this weigh on you?
How might God want you to pray? Take a moment to pray in that way — perhaps asking for angels of encouragement, for strength, or for the ability to surrender these things into God’s hands.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Delores Horn and her husband, Scott, started working with CRM in 1980. They are part of the ChurchNext Collective, splitting their time between Baton Rouge and Southern California

The is Delores, reporting — for the two of us

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Smartest Person in the Room syndrome

Attitudes and behaviors are the reflection of values. In Romans 12 the apostle Paul tells us that “true and proper worship” (for the Christian a very high value) is found in “offering your bodies as a living sacrifice … to God”.

He follows this with an admonishment to “not conform to the pattern of the world”. What is at the heart of this “pattern of the world”? In verse three and following he explains himself. Worldliness is to “think of yourself more highly than you ought”.

I read some research recently that indicated that over 90% of people consider themselves “above average“. This is related to a lot of categories, e.g. being a better driver, having more insight into situations, — and the list goes on and on.

This must be the reason that Paul admonished us to stand against an inflated self-evaluation. “True and proper worship” is founded in reality. It is coming to grips with who God has made you to be and what unique part you play in his grand design. Said another way, true worship is grounded in humility.

Delores and I like to say, “the body of Christ is really smart”. Because this is true, we are better together. This is why Paul tells us in Phillippians 2, “Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.”

When we choose individualism over the body of Christ, I call this “the smartest person in the room” syndrome. To be true worshipers requires discarding this “worldly” perspective. Join me in pursuing the humility that results in true worship.


Our Current Realities

The last two and a half years have been extremely challenging on the family and personal front. There are many aspects to all this, but the current dominant reality is the poor and failing health of our mothers in Oklahoma. In addition, I had an outbreak of the shingles virus on April 10, adding a significant aspect to an already challenging season of life.

Nevertheless, we know we are not alone. Delores and I are grateful for all the loving support we have experienced through God’s people these last two and a half years. We are full of gratitude for God’s kindness and provision.


Our Core Mission

Our hearts continue to burn to see the church of Jesus be all it can be. It is a privilege to “play our part” in God’s great enterprise of making all things new.


 

 

This is Scott, reporting – for the two of us

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Liberty and Justice for All

Racism as a topic is a growing edge for Delores and me in our knowledge and experience of God. We have been stirred about God’s heart for justice for some time. But racism as an aspect of this has not received in-depth attention until recently.

“Many white Americans tend to see this problem (stories of young black men being killed by white police) as unfortunate incidents based on individual circumstances. Black Americans see a system in which their black lives matter less than white lives. That is a fundamental difference of experience between white and black Americans, between black and white parents, even between white and black Christians. The question is: Are we white people going to listen or not?” Taken from a pastoral letter to white Americans by Jim Wallis — God’s Politics Blog

I made a significant journal entry last September about God possibly using us to advance racial reconciliation. Reflections like the one above have surely contributed to my journey of thought in this area.

Aly, Delores and I Launch Out
When the new season of life groups were being envisioned at our church, I approached our pastor about Delores and me leading a group on racism. He was very positive about our doing this and wanted us to co-lead with Aly Daniels.

Aly is a young African American woman in her mid-twenties and a new friend to us. The group began five weeks ago and currently has ten members. To date it has proven to be the most challenging group Delores and I have ever helped lead. We did not anticipate the challenge of  group members being in so many different places on this subject. As the old song says, “and they’ll know we are Christians by our love by our love, yes, they will know we are Christians by our love”. We are being brought forward in love as we work on this topic together.

My History
In the six decades of my church life, I only remember one teaching on the subject of racism and this was in a seminary class. Besides that, to the best of my memory, I have never heard a sermon or been in a class or Bible study group on this topic. Knowing what I know now, this is amazing to me.

Racism in America
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…”, so states King Solomon in his book of wisdom, Ecclesiastes. Nothing could be more apparent in this current season than the fact that God has decided it is time to make further progress in our country in the area of racial reconciliation.

The topic of racism in America is being given voice on every front in the media. The church of Jesus Christ has an important part in America getting to a better place…a place of greater reality in “liberty and justice for all”.

God’s Heart
I am always moved by what the prophet Micah said the Lord requires of us, “…to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God”.  A little later in the text he says, “…and the powerful dictate what they desire; thus they pervert justice.” My desire is to become aware of how my own use of power has contributed to the perverting of justice. Digging into the various aspects of how all this came about in our country is creating a deep compassion in Delores and me. As part of our passion for healthier and more fruitful churches, we want to make a redemptive contribution to the church playing its part in racial reconciliation in our country. Then, as the old song goes,

We will work with each other, we will work side by side
We will work with each other, we will work side by side
And we’ll guard each one’s dignity and save each one’s pride
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
They will know we are Christians by our love

This is Scott,
reporting from the field, for the two of us

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In Everything Give Thanks!

delores high school class reunionScott and I recently attended my 50th year high school class reunion. In the midst of this season of Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for the friends pictured. In those formative years, I often shared my hopes and dreams with these gals and a few others. It was wonderful to be with them after so long. Thank you, Lord, for these women and thank you, gals, for the memories!

God has been Good!

ScottandDeloresIn 1966, while at Oklahoma State University, we surrendered to full time Christian service. Our first ministry assignment after seminary landed us in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in August, 1972, and the rest is history.

Our Heavenly Father has had us on an amazing journey! From student ministry — to pastoring — to working among churches; our cup has been filled to overflowing. The real heart of this journey has been God’s beautiful people we have come to know and love.

“Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, for you have been our partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Phil 1:3-6

Thanks be to God for You Who Read This!

Our lives have been greatly enriched by each of you! Scott and I don’t take lightly the fact that we have been able to devote our lives to a calling in Christian ministry. Many of you have given generously and prayed earnestly to help make this possible. Please accept our heartfelt gratitude in this Thanksgiving season.

This is Delores saying thanks, for the two of us

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