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fullsizeoutput_2af3Radio has blasted into cyberspace with a wide-ranging number of options for the listening public. The antennae range is no longer the defining limits of broadcast choices. Instead of turning your radio dial, you can now turn on your computer.

Go ahead and turn on your favorite search engine. Now, type in your favorite radio station from decades in your memory filled past. It won’t take long. Your website promotes the web address of your long-ago listening enriched favorites.

I have run into people who have relocated miles from one city to the next. Some have retreated to the rural regions. Others have found their new home across the great plains of the USA. But, they still hang on to their favorite radio station via the internet.

For the month of May, every Wednesday at 10AM, on KHCB FM105.7, I will host Prayertime. If you’re in the listening area you can tune in the tried and true way. But, never fear, if your outside of the broadcast range, boot up your computer.

KHCB means “Keeping HIM Close By”. Cool, eh? The radio station is all about the Bible. Here the Bible is the center of all that happens in this broadcast hub. God’s Word is loved, taught, and treasured.

In the Prayertime broadcasts, the Bible is presented as the basis of the prayer to follow. I love teaching the Bible in preparation for communing with God. Please join me. We are going to have a great time in the Word and then praying.

Here is the address to listen into the program. It is only available LIVE. Join me at 10AM Central Time at

Online Listening

See you on the air!

photo by brucefong photography

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IMG_5337Spring Break should be a special time of adventure and relaxation for two hard-working teachers. But, this year my bride is burdened with the preparation of her state certification exam and I was in middle of preparing our federal tax returns.  At least I had an ace in the whole.

For the first time since moving to Houston we were going to the Rodeo.  It is billed as the Largest Rodeo in the world.  This claim is one that I have means or interest in validating.

I just reserved our tickets and looked forward to attending.  My time on the internet got us ready with transportation plans via the shuttle system, free parking and discounts on food.  What I could not plan was the weather.

Rain was the forecast for the day we had tickets to the Rodeo.  The precision of this forecast was amazingly accurate.  It poured on this gathering of folks.

Getting into the stadium was a relief just to get out of the rain and dry off.  We were soaked to the bone and thought that a repeated venture was not too favorably received.  But, the show began and our interest was piqued.

The announcer was in fine form.  He was clearly connecting with people who knew about rodeo.  At the same time, he also formed a bond with all of us newbies.

He introduced a rodeo tradition.  It was the Grand Entry.  All of the participants rode out into the stadium and received a rousing ovation from the crowd.  70,000 people were beginning to fill the seats.

Leading the way into the stadium was a trio of riders.  One queen carried the American flag.  Another the flag of Texas.  Yet a third the Houston Rodeo flag.

Once the great cast of riders reached their spots amid great music and fanfare, the announcer introduced the Invocation.  One of the participants prayed for God’s blessing, His protection and presence and with gratitude thanked God for His wonderful blessings.  He prayed this all in Jesus’ name.

There was no apology, no hesitation, no explanation, no equal time for false religions or any protests.  It was all done in stride.  Faith in the Almighty God was a part of the lives of people at a rodeo.

Then the National Anthem was sung.  Everyone stood.  All of the men removed their hats and caps.  People sang with their hands over their hearts.  There were no protests, complaints or apologies.

God, Country and Family.  These three values are embraced and proudly promoted by the Rodeo constituency.  I like Rodeo!

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

Travel for ministry is not uncommon in my schedule.  Most of my time is spent in my home town but air travel is very visible in my calendar.  Yet, I still make mistakes.

Sometimes I forget to pack some necessities.  Once I forgot socks.  At other times I have forgotten toothpaste, toothbrush, razor or comb.

Now, I have a bag with travel items that I keep handy for all of my journeys.  So far I have not forgotten that bag.  However, I have forgotten to refill several of those important dispensers or replace those empty containers.

I have a check list that helps me.  A busy schedule keeps deadlines and departures on the edge.  The routine is getting honed to something that is common.

Nevertheless, no matter how hard I try there are danger zones primed for a mistake.  When I arrive at the airport parking, my individual world turns into an instantaneous stressful moment.  In front of me driver is unsure of where to park, slowing down an entire line of cars.  We all are waiting to move into a slot and jump on to the airport shuttle.

Finally, I get to pick a spot while the shuttle moves up.  Now, the shuttle and all of its passengers are waiting for me to climb aboard.  I grab my bag and don my backpack.  Then, I hit my remote to lock the truck and climb into the shuttle and we whisk off to the terminal.

The terminal is ahead while all of us are jostled around the tight turns to enter into the drop-off zone.  We are all reaching for our cellphones to check our gates.  That is the moment when shock and awe grip my heart.

I forgot my phone.

It is back in my truck.  When I left from home I connected it to the power cord to ensure a full charge for the journey.  The rushing around to catch the shuttle distracted me.

How can I survive without my cellphone for four days?  How would I double-check my schedule, call up my confirmation numbers, make appointments, send text messages to key people or take pictures of the weekend adventure?  This was a very unsettling discovery.

Yes, I prayed.  I asked God to calm my spirit and sort out this travel wrinkle.  Just like the Word promises, He gave me calm.

I smiled.  This would be an adventure.  He would be there for me and He does not need a cellphone to stay in touch.

IMG_4620Pastor Gregg Matte sensed a deep-seated burden from the Lord.  He has been challenged by the Spirit to make prayer a reality in his personal daily practice for over the last year. In his intercession God impressed on his heart a rallying of the pastors of our city to gather and to pray.

He sent out an invitation for pastors to meet for prayer in his office on a Thursday in November.  The simple agenda was to prayer together for the city of Houston.  Remember this gathering for pastors and ministry leaders was planned a month and a half in advance.

The week of the pre-planned event, the city of Houston became world news.  Houston’s mayor had sent out a subpoena to five local pastors.  Each of these ministers were ordered to hand over all sermons that spoke on homosexuality or mentioned the mayor.

The Christian community was shocked.  But, they were not shocked into compliance or frightened into submission.  Instead, the pastors rose up and stood together.IMG_4619

Senator Ted Cruze joined the pastors who gathered in Pastor Gregg Matte’s office.  He never knew that this was part of God’s providential plan.  But, the time was perfect.

The media came to cover this galvanizing event, historic in American church history.  Pastors normally humbly compliant and supportive of our God-ordained governmental officials, drew a line in front of their pulpits.  No governmental intimidation or control over the message of God delivered in the name of His Son would be tolerated.

IMG_4621Over 50 pastors packed into Pastor Gregg’s office.  He directed the prayer session to pray for our mayor, protect the church and move on the local government to rescind their directive of control over the pulpits of the city.  We broke up into groups of 4-6 and prayed up a powerful time of intercession and supplication.

After an hour of prayer we moved downstairs to stand in solidarity before the news cameras as Senator Cruze addressed the media.  Clearly he spoke courageous words of freedom, liberty and religious autonomy. God’s servants had a right to speak the words of God without governmental oversight or control.

God’s calling was the sole directive in the words spoken in American pulpits.  Furthermore, it was a liberty written in our own Constitution.  The scene of pastors from different denominations, various ethnic backgrounds and multi-generational was powerful.

They stood together with the common bond of Christ among them.

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_4082My motorcycle is now 7 years old.  It still looks great and gleams brightly when I polish to a brilliant luster.  Detailing the paint and finish until all grime, dust, bugs and dirt are gone takes a long day if not more than one.

Over time there are a few dings and chips in the paint.  It is part of the character of many miles on the open road.  Showroom glitter does not have much compatibility when the miles roll under the tires of a thunder machine like my Silver Dragon.

One of the critical parts of my steed that wore out was my battery.  It is vital for holding a charge that can faithful be ready when it is time to crank up the motor.  Last week the get up and go got up and went.

This would be my first battery replacement for this motorcycle.  It was time to consult my MOM, Motorcycle Owners Manuel.  Then, I checked out the internet for videos on the procedures.

I laid out my tools on a work table.  Both seats had to be removed.  That was simple enough; one bolt for each seat and the cushions slipped out with a simple pull.

Now, came the difficult piece.  Wires and connectors were all over the battery bay.  I had to identify each one of the harnesses and disconnect them in order.

The challenge would be to remember the order so that I could repeat the connections in reverse order once I installed a new battery.  Neither the MOM nor the internet gave details on disconnecting the harnesses.  That was a task that I had to figure our on my own without breaking any of the brackets, connectors or wires.

Experienced good mechanics snooze through this kind of task.  I am inexperienced and just a do-what-is-necessary kind of mechanic.  It was time to do what was necessary and whisper a prayer in the process.

Thankfully, the Kawasaki engineers designed a very good system.  Even after years of silence, the connectors separated, bolts came apart, screws unfastened easily and every diagram in the MOM matched what was on my bike.

The service attendant at our local Motorcycle dealer was very helpful.  He sold me a new battery, showed me how to set it up, charge it up and gave me just a few necessary precautions.  After several hours of priming and charging the battery I installed the new juice source, said another prayer and fired up my machine.  It roared to life and I smiled at the Lord as he enjoyed the sound of power under throttle.

photo credit: brucefong photography

Israel 2014 IFL 401There is a military presence in Israel that we do not experience in America.  Modern warfare and international threat are a part of an Israeli’s daily routine.  They go about their errands and travels without distraction from the weaponry and what those trappings of war could mean in a day that has the potential to erupt into violence.

On my tour I have subtly glanced at the presence of soldiers who were around.  When a man in fighting fatigues is in my vicinity and he is heavily armed for an altercation, I take notice.  Yet, there is something unique about Israel and its presence for battle.

You can look exclusively at the weaponry or you can look into the faces of the soldiers.  The guns and ammunition tell you that these soldiers are ready to fight.  They are colleagues who will fight together and for each other.

Yet, their collegiality supersedes their armament.  There is calm in their countenance.  A joy is pervasive among these young combatants.

They are not nervous about carrying weapons into a crowded square, packed with people from all around the world.  Locals mix in with pilgrims are part of the gathering that these sentinels are to guard from harm.  A successful sense of calm and security come with the presence of these warriors.

Israel 2014 IFL 402Each one carries his armament like he is comfortable with them.  That confidence comes from splendid training and experience.  Preparation like that gives us visitors a peace that frees us to enjoy our visit.

At the same time that sense of peace is held in check.  The very presence of the military reveals that the threat to peace is ever-present.  Contrasting political views vie for dominance.

Some want only peace and have proven their willingness to coexist.  Others are not so gracious.  That tension is the basis for placing these soldiers in our presence.

The spiritual world is the same.  We are surrounded by the trappings of spiritual conflict.  There is an invisible yet clear presence of an enemy who is constantly attempting to derail those in pursuit of righteousness.

We have been given the equipment to battle successfully against the wiles of the Devil.  They are listed for us as pieces of armor.  Each item is effective but we need to practice, train and utilize them until we are comfortable with them.

Our battle calls for truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, Word and prayer.  These are for our protection.  Are we comfortable with each and all?  Being prepared for war is wisdom.

photo credit: brucefong photography

Israel 2014 IFL 341

I’m forgiven because You were forsaken,
I’m accepted, You were condemned.
I am alive and well, Your sprit is within me,
Because You died and rose again.

Amazing love,
How can it be?
That You, my King would die for me?
Amazing love,
I know it’s true.
It’s my joy to honor You,
In all I do, I honor You.

Israel 2014 IFL 336

photo credit: brucefong photography

the Garden, where Jesus prayed before He was crucified for our sins

1 Thessalonians 3.11-13

My bride and I poured a healthy chunk of our lives into Michigan.  We loved our days with amazing people.  Memories fill our hearts from events, victories, relationships and growth while in the Mitten State.

Time marches on and our Sovereign God moved us to serve in another part of the vineyard.  Yet, we both kept in touch with special people whose friendship proved itself over time.  We wondered if we would ever get a chance to enjoy them face to face again.

There were unexpected times when we would stumble across a picture, a memento or a souvenir from our days in the Great Lakes.  We would reminisce.  Often we would say to each other, “Remember when” and then we would finish the thought or even add to the others rendition.

God has a way of putting a longing in our hearts.  Then, in His mysterious ways He makes circumstances align so that we can fulfill that longing.  He is very good to us that way.

The Apostle Paul had this depth of longing to be with the Christians at Thessalonica.  He even prayed that God would make it possible for him to make that journey safely, removing any obstacle that would impede that reunion.  In his prayer he automatically identified that the Father and Jesus are both God.

The grammar and vocabulary support this as a theological reality for him.  Furthermore, this prayer is not relegated to secondary staff to carry it out but the Father himself is featured at the priority position of the request.  Jesus is included with the title of Master, which is consistent with the acknowledging of His deity.

In his petition he asked God to “clear the way” for this venture.  Literally, this means to “make straight” a path.  It is a metaphorical term that gives the picture of taking a winding road and figuratively pulling it at both ends so that it is now straight.  Paul wants to enjoy their fellowship as soon as possible and not have any delays or obstacles spoil their meeting up again.

The prayer of Paul is captivating. He is asking that God increase their love.  This is one of those Kingdom values that can never be done in excess.

Those who follow Christ should not just see their love grow and increase but it should overflow.  An abundance of anything that is overflowing paints a rich picture of bounty.  It fits what love, Christian love is.

Nothing about this description is comfortable in solitary.  Relationships make the difference.  The application of love is all about being a blessing to others.

No one is left out in the application of enjoying the abundance of love.  Paul not only includes each believer but he gives a catch-all phrase just in case any else thought that they were uniquely left out.  This may mean that even non-believers are to benefit from Christian love.  Certainly, Paul interjects that he along with his fellow servants are loving them too.

While these very special people were all about exercising selfless love toward each other and those who were not in the church, they still could improve.  They needed strengthening in their spirits.  Faith, one of the parts of that famous trio of love and hope, is a perpetual focus of development.  It is a dynamic that keeps increasing until eternity is reached.

There is nothing in this instruction about perfection.  No one can reach that state because we are all human.  Nor is it a process that has flawlessness as our goal.   This term, “blameless” means that in an objective arena accusations that are thrown at us do not stick.

The term “holy” does not mean perfect either.  Rather, it means “called to a special purpose” that is, God has given us a divine directive to do His will.  To be holy in His presence is to have been faithful in doing His will in our lives.

All Christians look forward to seeing Jesus return in their lifetime.  That eagerness is an expression of the love that dominates their lives.  Someday all who belong to the family of God will see Him.  Some will receive the privilege to be on the earth when Jesus returns, just as He promised that He would.

When Jesus comes again, He will be accompanied by Christians who have already died and been in heaven.  They will join Jesus for the great gathering with believers who will be taken directly to heaven.  It is a mysterious and wonderful prophetic event to anticipate.

LAPP (Life Application): Let love be a primary driver in your life.  Be a responsible Christian at work and with all of your responsibilities.  Yet, also look for the opportunities to love on the people that your routine brings your way.  When you pray and request that God bless those who have blessed you, then, seek the opportunity to be with them in fellowship.  Then, cheer each other on in anticipation of Jesus’ eventual coming again.

IMG_1718I have struggled over the Prayer of Serenity:

God
grant me the serenity
to accept the things I can not change,
the courage to change the things I can
and the wisdom to know the difference.
Amen.

It is a simple and beautiful prayer.  Each stanza is meaningful.  Then, the final punch knocks it out of the park.

Of course life is not always about what is serene.  There are times when we just have a difficult time when people mess up the options for us.  Someone rewrote this poetic satire:

God
grant me the serenity
to accept the things I can not change,
the courage to change the things I can
and the wisdom
to Hide the Bodies of the those People I had to knock off because the ticked me off.

Amen.

No, of course I am not being irreverent.  Admittedly, I laughed.  There was truth to this humorous editorial on a common and popular prayer.  Most of us who deal with people can understand this twist on words that describes a common human experience.

People more than circumstances give life its deepest disappointments, don’t they?  When we are alone, setting up our values and stepping into life with determination, it is people, the sour ones, the mean ones, those with a hidden agenda or those who are just plain annoying that disrupt our righteous goals.  It is no wonder someone else adjusted this ancient prayer in another funny twist:

God
grant me the serenity
to accept the things I can not change,
the courage to change the things I can
and forgiveness
when I finally snap.

Amen.

A good laugh at ourselves and the challenges that we all find too common keeps life real.  We each have our limits.  Few have the patience of Job and find it very tempting to strike back when we are pushed by someone else who is being nasty for no reason other than they have a burr under their saddle.

Perhaps the passing of time gives those who are older the insight that the rest of us find gratifying.  They have lived their lives and discovered the same things that we have in our youthful endeavors.  So, we adopt their insights into living:

God
grant me the Senility
to forget the people I never liked anyway,
the good fortune to run into the ones I do,
and the eyesight to tell the difference.
Amen.

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

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