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FullSizeRender-3My calendar is full and getting fuller as the fall season picks up momentum.  Work responsibilities move like a rising tide with appointments, meetings, reports, problems and initiatives.  Woven inside the fabric of the ministry is life at church, home, friends and the events of the season.

Did you catch that last one?  Halloween is coming.  Or for many of us it is the Harvest Season.

Not long after that Thanksgiving is waiting to get us even more busy than ever.  Family events, travel, food and reunions line up for attention.  Home decorations increase as the fall season moves deeper toward winter.

Of course, Christmas is the zenith of all events as the calendar year closes out.  The decorations are the pinnacle of everyone’s planning.  Just about everyone looks forward to Christmas.

Organizing our lives to make room for each of these calendar events crowds even the most gifted of administrators.  Unless we get a jump on the forecast we will miss out or even overlook important opportunities.

Our church, Houston First Baptist has a spectacular Christmas program called “Celebrate!”  Note the exclamation point.  It is fitting.

FullSizeRender-2Getting tickets for this sensation production is not difficult but it calls for a little planning.  Ticket sales opened up on Saturday October 17 at 8:00AM.  When I saw the notice, my lips pursed tightly.

I could make it to church to buy tickets that day, but I needed to be an hour away for a speaking engagement that very morning.  My mind was organizing that morning carefully.  If I showed up at church by 7:30AM and got my tickets by 8:45AM I could hurry to my speaking engagement in time for a 15 minute early arrival.

In my mind I was certain that I could be one of the earliest in line on a Saturday morning.  Who wants to get up early on a Saturday to buy tickets for a Christmas program that is months away?

That strategy was way off the mark.  The conversation that spawned that plan had no clue about the interest of Christmas even in October.  Hundreds of people who were in line before I showed up testify to my tactical limitations.

At least I made it to my 10AM speaking appointment on time.  But, the wait for Christmas tickets sure shows the joy of the season.  Merry Christmas, even in October!

photo credit: brucefong photography

IMG_4436It is my greatest pleasure to work every day with a team that is dedicated to their task of Seminary higher education.  Everyone knows their job and they do it with excellence.  They know that I know that we are still asking a lot of our people because any special events call for extra effort on all of us.

Once every two years we add our Fund-raising luncheon to our calendar.  It is an enormous effort to rally friends of DTS-Houston to gather for a meal and program.  Of course they all know that they are coming to respond to an ask for donations.

The planning for this gala event calls for site selection, menu choice, program keynote speaker, student testimonies, audio-visual technical staff, equipment and the list goes on and on.  At the heart of the event are our donors.  These very busy and often-asked-to-donate-to-worthy-causes are the stars of the event.

When the day of our latest gathering finally came we were feeling that deep inside wonder, “Will it go well?”  That is when prayer keeps on working while the planning is all done.  We trust in the LORD our God for His amazing favor on all that we do.

I stepped into the banquet room that was totally decked out.  It was gorgeous.  The design team and service staff at the venue were superb.

Our Advancement team executed their professional skills with great precision.  They are so organized that even the threat of a problem disappears like a mist on hot Houston summer’s day.  The guests arrive and the excitement begins.

Timing is critical.  Everyone on the program is briefed about the clock.  A designated staff person is given authority to keep the schedule as priority one.

We call everyone together and dedicate the event to God in prayer.  When the “Amen!” is spoken, silverware clinks on delicate porcelain China.  Conversations around the table pick up temp and volume.

After five bites of food, I step on to the stage and direct the program.  It is electrifying to report the good news of God’s favor on DTS-Houston.  Record enrollment, new faculty hires, new staff hires, impressive library growth and the potential for world-impact ministry bring rousing applause.  Our speakers knock it out of the park.  People are spell-bound, tearful and deeply moved to respond to the ask.

Everyone who planned and prepared were spent.  The joy of that event was at a special zenith.  There is no place on earth I would rather be than here at DTS-Houston.

photo credit: brucefong photography

IMG_2779My computer whirred to life.  I was watching my time for a long commute but before I launched I wanted to check the traffic report.  My destination would require some creative routes to avoid traffic tie-ups.

The Houston traffic report popped up on a map.  Every route to my destination was either color-coded in yellow, orange  or red.  Everyone seemed to headed in the same direction as me.

A major traffic jam blocked the secondary route.  Yet, that computer marked that plan as the quickest  among the three that were available.  At least I had allowed twice the amount of time that I needed to make the journey.

Once on the freeway I took the toll road.  It was clear for now.  However, the DJ on the local Christian radio station warned us all to avoid that thoroughfare.  She was right.

Up ahead, the tollway looked like a modern Christmas tree with a string of red lights lit up as far as the eye could see.  Slowly I crept up and took my place in line.  Like hundreds of others I was waiting in line and paying for the privilege to do it.  That was weird thought.

IMG_2781Then, it started to rain.  Typical of Texas rain, it came down in massive torrents.  That made driving even more difficult.

Massive puddles formed on the road way.  People drove around these water hazards.  Most people drove around them.  A few splashed right through these temporary lakes and sent a spray of rooster tail proportions over their neighboring car.  At least it was entertaining while we crept along at single digit speeds.

Often I would glance at my clock.  I smiled.  There was plenty of time.  My obligations were still over an hour away.  Even a walking pace I would arrive on time.

There is something pleasant about Southern culture that makes these difficult moments manageable.  There were no horns blaring.  Most drivers were keeping a courteous distance in these tight quarters.

A few were aggressively trying to cheat.  One used the shoulder to move ahead of others.  But, by far that majority of drivers were patient and deferring the right of way to the minority exceptions who took advantage of the polite majority.

I like living in Texas for moments like these.  Traffic jams are in every part of the country.  Road hogs and road rage drivers are in every state.  Here, however, there is a greater calm.  I have stop writing, now.  Traffic is loosening up.  It is time to go.

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography