Sunday, December 27, 2009


We had a busy but really fun Christmas as all of our children made it in. As a matter of fact, we had 24 people Christmas day and every one of our relatives on both sides except for Luana's Dad and Bettye and my neice Carly. There was good food, great gifts, wonderful fellowship and a bond of unity in Christ. After a Christmas Eve service at Antioch we had our own traditional service/devo/play. We also had a special treat of seeing it snow and actually stick. It was my first Christmas to actually see snow on Christmas morning.Then the next morning was filled with presents and lots of laughter, followed by the dinner (see pictures) and then family photos. It was fun having all three of the grandkids as well. I hope your Christmas was joyful as well.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


I have been following as with many of you the sad story unfolding concerning the malignant brain tumor of Matt Chandler. Our household is continuing to uphold him and his family in prayer as they go through this difficult time, believing in our God who is powerful and good, in hopes that He would reach out His benevolent hand in healing. But what got me doing this on my blog is a statement by my daughter where she was saying how cruel Satan is and that we need to reject him. So I got to thinking as to whether this tumor was of Satan or other and what our response should be and then on to the larger topic of evil. Here are my thoughts.
And while these thoughts are prompted by his illness, I have been thinking about these things a lot this year since we have gone through a decade worth of illness in our own family in one year. As I see it, illness can be a result of three or four things. It can be from Satan, from God, or from more natural means either by our own doing (i.e. smoking and lung cancer) or the natural result of living in a fallen world. Also I think it matters where it is coming from in how we respond to it. If it is from Satan we need to resist it, renounce it and rebuke it. If it is from God then we need to embrace it and learn as much as we can from it. If it is from natural means then we need to accept it, but fight it with all available means.
Can Satan cause brain tumors? Or for that matter Alzheimer's, or blocked coronary arteries? I think we need to be careful and not attribute too much power to our adversary. Certainly if you read the book of Job, it appears that he can at least cause boils, though even that only with God's permission. In the rest of Scripture we see people who are possessed and what are apparently seizures caused by that. But aside from those instances there is not much to point to the enemy as the cause of our physical afflictions directly. So then does God cause sickness? There are numerous examples of Him sending plagues, causing leprosy, terminal illness of David's infant son, Hezekiah's illness, as well as the famous thorn in the side of Paul. Doctrinally I think we are on pretty safe ground that He can and does at times. Is it frequent or rare? That is a more difficult question, but my gut feeling is that it is not a common cause of illness. Can God use illness to teach us things even if He did not directly cause it? Absolutely!
Well that brings us to the unsatisfying but more realistic notion that far and away most illness is just the result of a fallen world and that we can either be fortunate or unfortunate in this regard. Of course none of us get out of this world totally unscathed. So where does that leave us as we try to understand how to handle our own or a loved one's illness? First I think we need to pray for wisdom as to why this has come upon us (James 1:5) If He reveals this to be of Satan then we need to renounce, pray, repent and whatever else to be restored. If He reveals this to be from Him, then we need to learn all we can from it, even to the point of embracing the illness as God's "gift" to us for our more ultimate good.
On the other hand, if it is natural then there are several things to do. First go to your doctor and follow his/her advice. God often uses us to heal/cure/treat illness through the gift of modern medicine. If you want to add legitimate alternative therapies as well then that is fine also. I don't think it is helpful to spiritualize all illness. Secondly pray that God would teach you through this illness to draw you to a more intimate place with Him or to help others. Thirdly, accept what you have and share it with others and humble yourself and allow others to help you, serve you and minister to you. Do not try to hide your illness - even if it is embarrassing like Alzheimer's. Fourthly, pray like crazy for healing and elicit the prayers of all of your believing friends and family. God still works miracles today and heals and seems to be doing so more and more in this generation. If you are able, go to churches that seem to be moving in those giftings and ask them to pray and lay hands on you. Can we claim healing? I do not think so. Yes I know that by His stripes we are healed. We are definitely healed of the disease called sin and His death provided for the potentiality of healing, but it is not a done deal just because we say so. Otherwise none of us would ever die. And lastly ask God to give you a peace even in the midst of your illness and suffering. This is something He has promised and will do and it is amazing how that peace can carry you through some very tough times.
So let us all pray for Matt for healing and for peace for him and his family. Pray also for wisdom for them and for his doctors. And pray that God would teach them all through this and draw them to an even more intimate place with Jesus. Lastly pray that God would use Matt in this illness in a far greater way than He ever could have without it.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Cookies

This Sunday the Sudans held the 20th annual Christmas cookie decorating contest. It is a fun time for all of us to get together, laugh, tell stupid stories, roll out the dough, make sugar cookies and then decorate them, and of course eat them. It evolved from an informal cookie baking ordeal into an intense competative contest. For the second year, we moved it to Dallas and was hosted by Christy and Jordan. She does a great job of getting everything ready and all pitch in. This year Jayden was able to get into the action. By the time the last of the 150 cookies were cooked and decorated, we were tired and stuffed full of batter and cookies. The winner was Mary Beth with a train under a Christmas tree. Jason was second with a gingerbread man with a candy cane. It is a fun tradition which we hope we can pass down to the next generation. You are welcome to join us next year.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

No Fear

The pictures have nothing to do with the blog. The butterflies were taken today right outside our den area. The bird was outside my office window. Hope you enjoy. On to the blog.

I John 4:18 says "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." As I was thinking about this I tried to think of some of the reasons people fear when they love. Several are obvious. We may fear we will be rejected. We may fear that we will be hurt. We may fear we will be taken advantage of. We may fear being made fun of or that our love is insufficient. We even might fear that the person really will respond and then we will have to enter into relationship.

Whatever the reason we fear when we love, there is one similarity in all of them. They all have I/we in them. What I am saying is that we fear because we are looking at what happens to us, rather than looking at how our love can impact the other person. But if we take our eyes off ourselves and look at Jesus then it does not matter how the person responds to us. We have nothing to fear. Isn't this what agape love really is? It is a love that places value on the other person not because of anything he has done but simply because we choose to do that. It seeks the highest good of the other and not just the immediate good. And this kind of love does not seek anything in return. It often receives rejection and rebuke in it's place. But agape love has no fear.

So I challenge each of us this week to reach out in love to those you have been fearful of in the past. Take your eyes off of yourself and look at the needs of this hurting world.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Grace that is Greater

I have been doing a series at Lifegroup on grace and unbeknownst to me I experienced real grace up close and personal. But more on that later. Here is my definition of grace: the unmerited favor of God toward man giving him both the power and the will to serve Him.

As I thought about grace for daily living and what it means practically, I thought about two things. The first is that in order to apprehend this grace we need to really understand our powerless state (our weakness)(see II Cor. 12:9). We need to dispel the silly idea that we can do anything to please God. The notion that God is more pleased with us when we have a quiet time, or read our Bible or turn off the TV during a provocative scene is not Biblical. God is not more or less pleased with us by what we do. He is pleased by the condition of our heart - a broken and contrite heart. That brings me to my story. About a week ago Luana was telling me about an issue and I did not understand what she was saying, and I got angry for no reason. I went into my room and to bed. As I lay down I tried to understand why I got mad and could not come up with a single reason. Then it really hit me as I realized that I have a very wicked heart. That stayed with me as I got up the next morning for my quiet time and I spent the morning in confession. The amazing thing is that I then had an incredible day of closeness to Jesus. The lesson for me was that God works mightily in hearts that are broken and yielded to Him.

The second idea is that we apprehend this grace by hard work. That sounds somewhat contradictory to our understanding of grace so let me explain. In I Cor. 15:9-10 Paul explains that he is who he is by the grace of God - but then says that it was effective as he worked harder than all of the rest of the apostles. The key is the motivation. When we work hard to please God we dispense with grace, but when we work hard because we are thankful for what He has done for us realizing that we do not deserve it, then grace flows. Saving grace is free, but sanctifying grace is about discipline and working hand in hand with God (see Phil. 2:12-13). He has given us work to do (Eph.2:10) and will give us the grace abundantly for every good work (II Cor. 9:8).

Lastly I want to point out that the last two parts to the definition are extremely important and are what distinguishes Christianity from religion. Religion (even Christianity as religion) is man's attempt to reach out to God to please Him and to appease Him. Thus it is works based and will never achieve the goal. True Christianity is God reaching out to man in his pitiful sinful state for no reason other than His love for man and providing everything to restore that relationship. Not only does he do that but He also gives us the desire to serve Him and more importantly the power to do it. Desire without power results in Paul's condition in Roman's 7. On the other hand, power without desire results in all sorts of problems.

May God grant us all the ability to appreciate His marvelous grace.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Another Home

It is a sure sign that one is getting old. You can't predict when it will occur, and your not sure you really want it. What is it? An eternal perspective. When we are young we see passages that speak of our longing for our heavenly home and we feel uncomfortable because we really don't. We look forward to getting married, then having kids, watching them grow up, having a career and then to grandkids. There is always something else that keeps our hearts unsatisfied and wanting to experience more. There is nothing particularly wrong with any of this, but it is true for most of us.

Even for myself at the ripe old age of 54, I had so much to live for and to look forward to. But over the past year so much has happened that my attitude has begun to change. With Luana's diagnosis of Alzheimer's, my bypass surgery, my mother's stroke and subsequent confusion, this life has begun to lose it's luster. Now I am not depressed or contemplating suicide and I am continuing to press in and work hard, serving where I am able. All I am saying is that there is a subtle change in my thinking. I really do find myself longing for Christ to return and to set things right. I think more about what heaven is like and I don't worry if I miss out on something this world has to offer.

Now I do not necessarily think that this is bad and in fact it is what we are supposed to do. Paul enjoins us think this way as this is not our true home and we have a better one awaiting us. So that is where I am and if you catch me gazing off with my mind wandering, you will know where to find me.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The eye is the lamp

I have not blogged in a while and I know you all are missing it. Partly it was due to time and partly that I have not had much to say. I know that is hard to believe. Well I am back and hope you like it.
I have been studying Matthew and this morning I was looking at 6:22-24 and the Lord gave me a few insights. The first is that the eye is the lamp. Now that can be taken literally with the eye allowing things into our body - good things such as the beauty of God's creation and the needs of hurting peopleor bad things such as pornography; or it can function figuratively allowing the light of the goodness of God into our souls.
The second thing is to look at the word translated good or clear. Actually the word is haplous which means single. We have two eyes and for us to see singly then both of them have to work together. Otherwise we see double. Likewise our eyes need to be singly focused on Jesus and not drawn to separate masters. We also need to be single in purpose. If our eyes are functioning as one with unity of ourpose and devotion then the rest of our body will follow suit. Our heart will be in love with Jesus, our lips will sing His praise, our mind will study His word and think through His truths, our ears will listen to His voice, our hands will reach out to help others and our feet will be quick to spread the good news.
The last idea is that if our eyes are bad (evil-poneros) then our bodies will be full of darkness. Now the only way for there to be darkness is by the absense of light. We do not let darkness in, and the only way to have darkness is to not allow light to enter. God will not do this to us - we do it to ourselves either by losing focus (double vision), disease (cataracs) or by putting blinders on.
I hope this is helpful to you as you think about letting the light of Christ enter into your body and then allowing it to shine forth. God bless.

Monday, September 7, 2009


We love our neighborhood. It is in the middle of town and yet it is quiet and secluded. We moved here 24 years ago and not much has changed. Lately there have been some new couples move into the area. So Luana and I thought it would be a good idea to have a Labor Day ice cream get together. We invited everyone in the area and had about 40 people show up. We thought it would be fun to have everyone write on their nametags how long they have lived here. To our surprise, we were the youngsters. We had couples that have been here for 26, 29, 30, 32, 35, 39 and 40 years. Talk about a stable neighborhood. In a day when there is so much mobility, we feel blessed to know all of our neighbors and look out for each other.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Washington - Part 2

If you are tired of looking at spectacular scenery and hearing about the beauty of God's creation then you can skip part two of our trip. Day three we spent floating on the beautiful Skagit River. It was labeled a whitewater trip but because the water level was down the rapids were not bad - only one barely class 3. Nevertheless is was a great trip with beautiful scenery, several bald eagles flying overhead, and virtually no effort needed. The water was a frigid 43 degrees and we all donned wetsuits and we all got in fully - it was really cold - took your breath away. At one stop the younger ones jumped off of a 12 foot cliff into the water. I was not so brave. We arrived back at the outfitter's place to a hot sirloin steak - my first one since my surgery.

The next day we were up early and off hiking again. This time Maria took care of Jayden and Emery Kate while we took Duncan. It was a beautiful hike through old growth forest and along a river for two miles. Then it got challenging as it started up the mountain and continued up for 3 1/2 miles. Unfortunately, due to wildfires in the area and smoke from them the views at the pass were partially obscured.

Our last day was more relaxed as we drove to the Baker Lake resort area and did some picnicking and canoeing. There is an incredible view of Mount Baker from the middle of the lake as it towers over the lake. After that we headed back to the cabins, but as usual I had one more hike in my head. Nobody else would go with me so I went by myself. After a long drive up a mountain, there was a two mile hike to the top of Sauk Mountain. It was tough but the views were to die for. On top was a 360 degree view of the entire area. It was truly one of the most beautiful views I have ever seen. Unfortunately, no one else was able to enjoy it - and my camera battery died right at the top.

All in all it was an amazing trip and I feel very blessed to have been able to do it. I am thankful for my kids and son/daughter-in-laws who all made it very special. Where to next? New Zealand?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Washington - Land of trees

Well we just got back from an amazing family vacation to Washington state and Cascades National park. We took all of the kids, their spouses, our three grandkids and a friend who served us as a nanny. The first amazing thing was to be able to get all of these households and people to get off of workand school to be able to come. We all flew from DFW to Seattle (can you imagine us all at the airport?) and then rented 3 SUVs to drive to Marblemount, WA. We rented 3 cabins at a place called Grace Haven. It is actually owned and operated by believers as a ministry. They were really nice and the cabins were just what we needed. Our porch looked out on old growth forest which is where I sat each morning for my quiet time.

The first day we hiked 3 1/2 miles up to Cascade Pass with all of the kids/grandkids on special backpacks. It was beautiful and then 5 of us went another 2 miles to the Sahole glacier. Overall it was one of the most beautiful hikes I have ever done. The next day we drove across the park and mountain vistas to a little area with some short hikes to mountain lakes which were really pretty. The last one was a 2 mile hike up to Lake Ann which I did with just my four kids. I think it is the only time I have ever hiked with just them by myself. It was a real special time.

The next day we went white water rafting and while the rapids were not bad enough to even get me scared, it was a spectacular trip. The guides were great, the river beautiful with mountains in the background and we spotted several bald eagles flying overhead. It ended with a steak dinner at the outfitter's place. All in all it ws a great day. That is enough for one blog. I will post pics of the first two days. No camera on the float trip.