Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Here I am Lord, Send Me....

Evangelism means to show the example of Jesus’ love to everyone we meet.

Do you plant seeds?
Or do you till the soil?
Do you water those plants and tend to them and take care of the soil?
Or are you one of those people who reap the harvest?

Each one of these types of people are involved in leading someone into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Everyone plays a specific role, whether we realize it or not. The “not realizing it” part can be rather damaging if we are not focused on living for Christ. No matter who you are or where you go, whether you are a Christian or not, your life, your actions will have some sort of an impact on someone’s life.

And you may not even impact that person directly. I went on a Men’s Retreat Weekend over two years ago. I had just moved here and I didn’t yet know hardly anyone. While on this retreat, I received some letters, notes and words of encouragement from people I had never met. The names on those things meant nothing to me. I didn’t know them.

One of the things I received was a small card, about the size of a business card, that said,

“God knows your purpose. Do you?”

“For I know the plans I have for you,”
declares the Lord….
“plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11

The card had the names of the couple who sent it to me on the back.

I found that card a couple of days ago while cleaning out an old drawer full of stuff. (Yes ladies, sometimes we do clean out “that drawer”). I remembered receiving it a couple of years ago and noticed the names on the back. These two people are now in my Life Group and have become very dear friends. The sermon this weekend was also about knowing God’s purpose for your life.


So you just never know how what seemingly little things you do may affect someone else. Even years down the road. They had a planted a seed long before we all became friends. And it is still growing.

Most of my life, I have been a seed planter. Sometimes God uses me to water the seeds and sometimes to tend the soil, but I am normally not the one who reaps the harvest.

What I mean by that “farming” reference is that I usually find myself in a servant role. Helping others, talking to them or counseling them or just an act of anonymous servant-hood. That last one I like the best. I like doing things for people without them knowing it was me who did it. But once in a while, I like the idea of reaping the harvest. Closing the deal. Being the one who helps someone pray the sinner’s prayer and lead them to Christ.

I have been a Christian for 32 years and I have only led three people to Christ. Two of them are my children. God blessed me with the joy of being there when they each made that decision and said, “Daddy, will you pray with me so I can know Jesus and someday live with Him in Heaven?”

And that got me to thinking about Charles. In May of 1994, me, my brother, my step-dad and my two cousins all went to the Promise Keepers event at the Anaheim Stadium in Southern California. Five grown men in our mid to early thirties (except dad who is just an old fart). It was a great weekend and the stadium had mostly survived the 1994 L.A. earthquake (in January). One of the talks we heard was about how we can miss the blessing of sharing Christ with someone because we are either too afraid or maybe we simply weren’t paying attention. It made me sick to think of all the opportunities I was aware of that I had let slip by because I was too afraid to speak up. Fear of rejection, not knowing what to say, and a number of other poor excuses came to mind. I made the decision to be bold in my faith and never let another opportunity pass me by. If I miss the blessing, God may simply give it to someone else. During the weekend, I had asked God for the opportunity to lead someone to Jesus.

The last night of the weekend, as things were winding down, we had positioned ourselves on the front row of our section right next to the exit. The closing speaker had asked each of us to turn to someone next to us and share with them how this weekend has affected our lives and what we plan to do to keep this fire burning within us. We had already hopped over the railing and were standing near the exit tunnel. It was already kind of dark.

We turned around and there, standing right in front of my brother, staring him straight in the face, was a black man about our age. It seemed as though he had appeared out of nowhere. The man said, “My name is Charles Street. I have been working the concession stand just inside this entrance. I have been listening to you guys praising and worshipping God for the last three days, and I want what you have.”

I was so excited I almost wet myself. I had asked God for an opportunity and here He was testing me to find out if I meant it.

My older brother’s eyes were huge and he had that “deer in the headlights” look. I introduced myself to Charles and shook his hand. We exchanged information and got his phone number since he said he needed to get back to work. My brother and I looked at each other in disbelief at what had just happened. When we turned back to Charles, he was gone. As quickly as he had appeared, he had vanished. By this time the event was over and we were leaving. We looked around for Charles but we couldn’t find him anywhere.

My older brother Steve, and I worked on the LA subway tunnels project together and after work the next day, went home and called the number Charles gave us. We made arrangements to meet Charles at a “Big Boy” restaurant in Glendale the next night after work.

It was nice to see Charles in person again and confirm that he is indeed a real life person and we had not just imagined meeting him at Promise Keepers.

Charles and Steve hit it off right away and started talking about cars and engines and other cool stuff I never cared too much about. All the while I kept thinking “Hey! This isn’t what we are here for! We’re here to lead Charles to Christ. We shouldn’t be wasting our time with all this other nonsense!”

I was getting annoyed at my brother for wasting our time and I got annoyed at myself for allowing him to ruin MY opportunity to show God that I could do this!

It was all about me. It was supposed to be all about God.

While those two motor-heads were still talking, I closed my eyes and asked God for guidance. I asked Him to have the Holy Spirit take over because I did not know what to do. And He did.

Once those two stopped talking long enough to take a breath, I looked at Charles and I asked him, “Charles, do you want to know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior?”

Charles looked at me and his expression changed to a more solemn look and his eyes began to well up and he said, “Yes. Yes I do. Please tell me how.”

We talked some more and then we prayed together and that night, in a Big Boy restaurant in Glendale, Charles Street gave his life over to Jesus.

A couple of weeks later I returned to Texas to finish school and I have since lost touch with Charles. I used his real name here in the chance that someone reading this might know who he is and could tell me how he is doing. I think of him often, pray for him and wonder how he is doing.

I’m still planting seeds. I still water them and tend the soil. I keep doing what God has for me to do and if He ever sees fit for me to pray that prayer with someone and lead them to Christ, I am ready, willing and able. Either way, I am happy to be at whatever point on someone’s journey on their way to knowing Jesus, as God desires for me to be.

And if no one remembers me, that’s okay, as long as they do remember the One who sent me.

So, how is God using you?

Planting, watering, tilling, cultivating, harvesting?

Your life is a reflection of your relationship to Jesus.

Imagine who's life you might touch today.

That reminds me, I need to go love on my family now.


Monday, August 20, 2007

Job Hunting Update

It was just about one month ago that this happened. I’ve spent the last four weeks looking like crazy for a job. There are plenty of jobs out there for me and I had some really good interviews. But for some reason, those particular employment opportunities never materialized into anything.

Then I got the job interview with the state agency.

Things went rather well and an offer from them seemed highly likely, but the paperwork had to go through the system and that takes time.

I kept up my search to make sure I have all my bases covered and not put all my eggs in one basket. (Feel free to insert your favorite cliché here.)

I landed an interview with a top firm in Indianapolis and that interview also went well. It started with two of the engineering managers. At the start of that interview, the fellow that I would actually be working for informed me that they had scheduled an hour with me but that he had a project to complete and would need to leave after thirty minutes. When his time was up, he said he knew he needed to go, but wanted to stay longer and learn more about me. Afterwards, I spent another half hour with the company vice president. That went okay but not nearly as good as the first hour. They said I would hear from them next week sometime.

I could see myself working there, but it didn’t feel as good as the other one I was hoping for. I’ve spent a lot of time on my knees talking things over with God about my job situation. I finally agreed that I would go wherever He wants me to go and do whatever He calls me to do. I also added that, “Lord, you also know my heart. But I will leave it all in Your Hands.”

The day after that interview I got a phone call from the state agency. I spoke with the guy I had interviewed with previously. He informed me that all the paperwork had been processed and had gone through all the channels.

The result?

One week from today at 8:30 AM, I will officially be working here

as the new Pavement Maintenance Engineer in the Pavement Preservation Department.

Finding out about the job, landing the interview and making it through the process in the comparatively short time it took is most certainly a God thing.

So this week I will be finishing up some projects around the house and play some golf.

My boxes are by the door and ready to go, with my umbrella resting on top.

Thank you all so much for your prayers.

God is good.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

…and the Earth…Shook!

I’ve noticed some writings lately about dreams, and trains, and dreams involving trains, and I was reminded of a dream I had a very long time ago.

Have you ever had a dream when you were a kid and you can still remember it to this day? Yeah, me too. I have a couple of those. But I’m only going to tell you about one of them. (This time).

I had this particular dream when I was 9 years old.

I can still remember seeing everyone in the car that day. Me, my brother, sister, my two cousins and our moms. My mom, little sister and my aunt were in the front seat, while us four boys were in the back seat of our old Nash Rambler. There were no seat belt laws back then so people usually piled as many people into a car as they could.

Not really paying much attention to where we were or what was going on, we boys were busy goofing around in the back seat. We only looked up when we noticed the car had stopped and my mother was frantically trying to start the car. The old Nash had stalled and simply would not start. We didn’t think much of it since this sort of thing happened a lot with this old car.

Then we noticed why mom was so panicked. We were stopped on the tracks and we could hear a train whistle blowing in the distance. Then we saw it. A big, black locomotive heading straight for us and it showed no signs of slowing down.

We tried to get out but the doors were locked and we couldn’t get them open. There was screaming and yelling and frantic jiggling of the door handles, but no one could get them open. And the train was getting closer.

More screaming, more yelling, more pounding on the doors, but still no luck. I was in the middle of the back seat and all I could do was watch.
Watch as that big, black train drew closer every second. There was nothing I could do but look out the window and watch as the train just kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger until finally…..

It hit.

Everything went black and I felt violent shaking and banging and bumping and a constant loud rumbling noise that seemed as though it just wouldn’t stop. It sounded a lot like a train.

When I opened my eyes, I noticed I was still in my bed in my room in our home in Saugus, California (just a few miles north of the San Fernando Valley, north of L.A.). My bed was shaking like crazy. At first I thought it was my step-dad hiding near the foot of my bed, shaking it trying to scare me (it was like him to play jokes like that), but then I watched as the antique style lamp on my bed-side table danced across the surface and shattered on the floor of my room. This was no joke.

As the house continued to shake, my step-dad ran up and down the hallway yelling for everyone to stay where they were. Finally, the shaking stopped. The shaking probably only lasted a minute, but it seemed like much longer.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was shortly after 6:01 AM, on February 9, 1971, and I had just experienced my first earthquake.

There were things all over the floor. Items that had been hanging on the walls or sitting on the dressers were a mess or were scattered about the room. My older brother had his own room and slept in a double bed. Luckily, he had rolled over in his sleep just before the quake hit and just barely missed being crushed by a large, heavy bookshelf my step-dad had made out of thick, heavy wood. The entire house was a mess, but it was still standing, and in relatively good shape.

I had to wait until my mom came and picked up enough of the glass off my floor before I could even get out of my bed (it was THAT bad).

A lot of us kids in the neighborhood spent the rest of the day riding our bikes around the area checking the damage to people’s homes. Ours wasn’t too bad. The only real damage was to our block wall around the back yard where the top row of blocks fell off. Some homes had broken windows and some fireplaces had fallen. Our fireplace was still intact.

There were some after-shocks during the day and we found out that if you run (or ride your bike) in a straight line down the middle of the street, you can’t feel the quake.

It was kind of cool. I suppose we wouldn’t have thought so if we had been closer to the fault line.

So that’s my dream involving a train. Not too long after that, we moved to Colorado to a small town in the Rockies. (Not because of the quake, though. Dad got transferred).

I didn’t learn until many years later that our house in California was in Seismic Zone 4 (the worst one). The place we moved to next was in Seismic Zone ZERO.

We had some harsh winters in Colorado, and a lot of snow, but the ground never moved.
Not once.

God is good.

(I’ll never understand why our house in Southern California had a fireplace, but our house in Colorado didn’t).


Monday, August 13, 2007

My All-Time Favorite Unusual Song

Just a little something to start off your Monday.

It is rather romantic, so grab a hanky...

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Her Name was “Angel”

* Note: I started writing this while still at my old job downtown *

It started out as a pretty normal day, and then just got weird from there. By “normal”, I mean that my alarm went off, prayed with my wife (we pray together every morning. Out loud) and I got up and got ready for work. Once I left the house though, it was clear that I was no longer in control of this day.

On the drive into downtown, I found myself behind one of those big box type trucks. Great. With the route I take to work, there are very few places I will be able to try to get around this guy. However, that was not necessary. That box truck must have been in a real hurry, because I made it to work in record time! What I thought would take longer than usual, turned out to be a real quick trip.

Later that morning I had to leave the office for a meeting. The employee parking lot is a block away on a one-way street. Between the office and the parking lot is a grocery store whose parking lot entrances (driveways) are along this one-way street. Since cars turn into this lot from the left lane, you need to be careful while walking across one of these driveways. One car turned into the lot before I reached the driveway, but the car behind it stopped so that I could cross. I hesitated since that car had clearly gotten there first. I glanced over at the car and noticed the woman driver watching me, looking me up and down. Holy Crap! That lady was oogling me! Now, I know that guys oogle women all the time (I don’t because, really, what’s the point? My wife is the most gorgeous woman on the planet, so why would I oogle anyone else?) But this was weird! I’d never been oogled before (at least, that I am aware of).

The rest of the day seemed to go okay. The meeting went well and the rest of the day went by pretty much uneventful.

After leaving the office to go home, I began that block-long walk to the parking lot.

An elderly woman was about to cross the street, but turned back and headed toward me.
She didn’t look homeless or appear to be like most of the transients I meet in this area (usually about two or three a week, looking for money). She asked if I knew of the nearest food pantry since she needed some basics, like milk, bread and eggs. She named off a few places in the area and said they were already closed and that there was no one at the church across the street.

I tried to think of someplace else nearby, and was about to mention the local mission a couple of blocks away. Before I could say the name she said, “The Wheeler Mission is only for men.”

“Oh” (I didn’t know that).

Then it occurred to me that we were close to a grocery store. I offered to go with her into that store and buy her whatever she needed. She declined, saying that she’d already been in there. I assured her that I would pay for whatever items she needs, but she said she needed to go across the street to the church so she could pray.

I reminded her that God hears our prayers wherever we are and we don’t have to go to a church to pray, and that she could pray right there on the sidewalk with me. She insisted she needed to go to the church to pray, since she felt closer to God that way. She said that in that church, she had a “special place” to pray.

Before she walked away, I asked her what her name was.

She said, “My name is Angel”.

I told her she must truly be an angel since she just saved me the long walk to the parking lot. I had forgotten that I had parked in the grocery store parking lot next to the office when I returned from my meeting earlier. (Otherwise I wouldn’t have run into her at all). As I drove out of the parking lot, I could see “Angel” making her way through the prayer garden of the old church across the street.

I’ve been reading a book lately called “Irresistible Evangelism”. I’m only about halfway through it, but so far I have come to further understand what the Bible means when it talks about sharing the gospel. Jesus told the disciples to share the good news with all nations (everyone), to make disciples, and he told Peter to “Feed My sheep”. He didn’t tell them (or us) to increase our church membership or cram our own personal religious beliefs down someone’s throat, He told us to be “Christ” to others.

In other words, He told them to follow His example.

Evangelism means to show the example of Jesus’ love to everyone we meet. The English word evangelism is a combination of eu, the New Testament Greek word for “good” (as in euphoria) and aggelos (as in Los Angeles), the biblical word that is most often translated as “angel” or “messenger”. Believe it or not, but the literal meaning of evangelism is being a “good angel”.

Basically, anyone who God sends to communicate His purposes is an aggelos or angel, even if you don’t have wings or a halo.

Have you ever shown Christ’s love to someone, just because it is the loving thing to do? Without trying to get them to recite the sinner’s prayer? Without trying to get them to come to your church or join your group?

I've written before about a couple of times I’ve encountered angels. You can read about them here and here.

Have you ever just been as “Christ” to someone? Just demonstrating God’s love in a practical way. We’re supposed to treat everyone like that whether or not we like the way they dress, or the way they wear their hair, or the color of their skin, or whatever.

Just think – YOU could be someone’s “angel”.

How about starting with people you already know, like your family, with the folks in your own home? That’s always been the hardest for me but I try. And starting today, I’m going to try even harder to demonstrate God’s love in a practical way for my wife and my kids.

What are Your thought on this?


Thursday, August 09, 2007

Love Letters Set Photos

A while back, I was in a two person play called Love Letters.

It was a lot of fun to do and being that it was "Community Theater", we also had to help build the set.

The Director had some strange ideas for the painting of the set, but when we finally finished, it turned out rather well. The words on the walls are from specific lines (letters) in the script.

Here's the side of the stage for my character.
Andrew Makepeace Ladd, III.
Same side, different angle.
And for the woman's side.
Melissa Gardner (played by Jan Hodson)

Here's a panoramic view of the entire stage.

The play was a lot of work, but was also the most fun I'd had in a long time. And the reviews were good too.

I'll post pictures of the set with the characters (us) in action as soon as I get them.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Prepared for Rain.....

Life is good, my truck is running and the A/C is working, my son made it home from his trip and I had a job interview today.

In case you didn’t already know, my son finally got a car. It isn’t much, but it runs. It is the type of old rust-bucket that causes a parent to pray every time he gets into it. But, it’s his. I had been praying for him ever since he got into that car for the first time.

I am so thankful for my friends at church, and for those across the country, that have been praying for us.

At church Saturday night, a dear friend shared a story with me.

A fellow happened by three farmers praying in a field. It was hot, dry and dusty. The fellow asked the farmers what they were doing and they told him that they were praying for rain. The fellow told them that their prayers won’t work and that it would not rain. They asked how he knew this and he told the farmers that they did not have any faith that God would make it rain. Visibly upset with the fellow’s statement, they asked him why he questioned their faith that God would answer their prayers and make it rain.
The man replied,

“Not one of you brought an umbrella.”

A similar and equally moving story is told in the movie “Facing the Giants”, where the bottom line is simply this:

Prepare for Rain.

I had an interview this afternoon downtown with a state agency. The job description fits me perfectly so I pursued the ad, knowing that these types of jobs, especially this department, are difficult to get.

I had exchanged e-mails and phone calls with the guy I’d be working for and made the arrangements for the interview.

On the way into downtown, I encountered the worst traffic I had seen in a long time and was starting to worry that I would be late to the interview, which is a really bad way to start off with a prospective employer. I kept praying and trusting God that all will work out according to His plan.

I followed the interviewer’s directions to the “South Parking Garage”, but it was full. Trying my best not to get frustrated, I pulled out onto the street in front of the building and found a parking space directly across the street from the front door, under a shade tree. I sent up a quick prayer of thanks for the shady parking space. As I put the quarters into the meter, I found that the meter still had just over an hour left on it.

I looked up to God and said, “Okay, now you’re just showing off.”

I hurried across the street and found my way to the north building (there’s two buildings, north and south) and went to the East Elevators as I was instructed.

I was also instructed to go to the 7th floor to sign in and he’d meet me there.
When I got to the 7th floor, the signs all said that all visitors are to sign in at the 7th floor receptionist and the only way to get there is by way of the West Elevators.

So I took the East Elevator back down to the first floor. On the way, I called the interviewer’s cell phone (he’d given me his number in case I had questions). I told him where I was and what was going on and he apologized for giving me bad directions. I asked him if I’d passed the test regarding having a good sense of direction and being able to deal with dealing with stress. He laughed and said he’d meet me at the 7th floor reception area.

We made it to the ninth floor meeting room where we met up with two other department heads. They were there to help with the interview and also see if they might be able to steal me away to their departments for openings they also had. I felt right at ease with these guys almost immediately.

The interview went rather well.

The Engineering Development Manager was there also. He’s the guy who is the middle-man between the Engineering department and the Human Resources department.

After the interview, we all shook hands and went our separate ways. The Engineering Development Manager accompanied me to the 7th floor reception area to turn in my visitor’s badge and show me out. Or so I thought. Time was about up on my parking meter so he went with me to my truck and said he’d show me where to park in the North Parking Garage. I was apparently wrong about thinking this interview was over.

After parking in the garage, we went back into the north building where he gave me the detailed tour of the engineering departments. He explained to me that he was quite sure that the interviewer was going to make me an offer so he thought it would be okay to go ahead and show me around. I had a real good feeling about this.

At home, I have all the things I need for my engineering office (or cubicle) organized in boxes sitting by the door (books, calculators, etc.), ready to be loaded into my truck to take to work. Those boxes have been there and ready to go for the past two weeks. A friend asked me once why I kept those boxes there. I simply replied,

“I’m preparing for rain.”


Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.
(Proverbs 3:5-6)