Sunday, July 15, 2007
My Buddy Tommy Cheatham pastors a small church for Cowboys in Love Valley NC. You've probably never heard of it. Its a little out of the way place in the foothills. The neat thing about Love Valley is that it is for Cowboys. Now don't go thinking its a tourist place it isn't. There are real cowboys there. There are no cars allowed in downtown Love Valley. Only horses! There are hitching posts, a saloon and a general store. There used to be a jail, but now the jail is the church where Tommy pastors. He asked me to come preach today and I did. And people rode their horses to church. I met Willie there. He's the bearded guy pictured above. He's about 5' tall but as you can see he wears a .45 revolver on his side. He takes it off before coming into worship. Its loaded too. He wears a Bowie knife thats about a foot and half long. He has a .444 lever action in a scabbard strapped to his horse. I had lunch with Tommy and Willie today. I asked Willie where he lived. He said "Oh about an hour and a half north of here." I replied, "Up above Wilksboro?" He looked at me kind of funny, "No about an hour and a half north." Then it dawned on me that he meant an hour and a half by horseback. He doesn't have a car! He just rides everywhere. I realized at that point there are lot of things in this world that people get worried about, you know bills and money and schedules. I ride by Wal-Marts and our cookie cutter shopping complexes and Willie rides by the river and up the mountain. He shoes horses. He loves Jesus. And guess what, he's just fine with that. Willie invited me to come back to church, to take my kids horseback riding and to spend a quiet Sunday with him. I'm going to do that.
By the way notice the rule board at the entrance to Love Valley. No discharging of firearms in the city limits, didn't say anything about just outside. Tommy told me the rule board used to read: NO UNLOADED FIREARMS ALLOWED! How about that. If you want to go to love Valley its pretty easy. Just go to Statesville NC, take the HWY 115n exit off of I-40. Go about 15 miles and follow the sign on your left. You can't miss it. And you won't want to.
Thursday, July 05, 2007
Sunday, July 01, 2007
I’ve been in ministry in one form or another for over 12 years now. In that time I’ve met some amazing people. One of the most precious gifts that anyone can do for you is a commitment to prayer. I know that I pray for people and I also know that I need prayer. I need people to pray for me. The Bible is full of this encouragement. Paul states in Philippians 1 this: 3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in amy every prayer for you all, in view of your 1aparticipation in the bgospel cfrom the first day until now.
Paul on several occasions announces to his readers that he has been praying for them. Jesus also talks of praying for Peter. Peter gets prayed out of jail in the book of Acts. There is just something that in God’s economy that make prayer special. No matter your theological bent no Christian can argue that prayer is of little value.
That brings me to Angel. Last year I spoke at a church in
I finished speaking and sat down at a the nearest table, self critiquing every misspoken word when I felt a had on my shoulder. It was an older lady, probably around 70. She began to thank God for me! I don’t like it at all when people thank God for me. Its embarrassing and I rarely feel worthy of being thought of as a blessing. But she kept on, but not in a religious way, a very honest way.
I sensed that I could talk to her and we shared openly and honestly at that table for over an hour. I found out she was a nurse and everyone called her Angel. There’s a good reason for that. She could be one. She told me something remarkable. She said, “Chaplain, I’m going to pray for you every day till the day I go to be with Jesus.”
I’ve had people tell me they’d be praying for me. In the church it’s sort of our way of saying “So long, I’ll be praying for you.” But I always wonder if anybody means it. I wonder if I mean it when I say it. But she wasn’t kidding. She asked for my address so she could send me a letter from time to time. From time to time turned out to be a faithful commitment of encouragement. I got my first letter from her about a week later. It was a simple note card with scripture hand written on it. It was from Jeremiah 29. It had in the bottom right corner the date and the time she was praying for me. I was blessed by it. Well they kept coming. Some weeks she’d send two, some four and some weeks I’d get books in the mail, devotional books with my name engraved on them. Every week for the last 20 months that Angel has remembered to pray for me and remembered to let me know. Now I know why Paul wrote that he had been praying for people. Because it is an unbelievable encouragement to know that someone is talking to God for you. Especially when you are so busy that you barely have time to sleep.
So I’m giving thanks today for Angel whose example of faithfulness has encouraged me, lifted me and strengthened me through difficult times. I give thanks to God for allowing me to know her. She’ll never be famous or rich or on TV. She’ll probably just keep riding her bicycle and telling people about Jesus in
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