Thursday, December 24, 2009


Life is uncertain.

One day you can seem to be fine, the next day you can learn you are dying.

One day you can be enjoying coffee with your husband, the next day he can be gone.

One day you can enjoy being a mom, and then suddenly learn your child has a dreaded disease. In just a few short months, you find your arms empty again.

One day you can be employed by a company you have given 25 years to, and the next they can hand you a pink slip.

One day you can live in a nice house, drive a fine car and live the good life. Then with the turn of a bad economy, you can suddenly find yourself living on the street.

Yes, life is uncertain.

None of us are promised tomorrow. In fact, none of us are promised the next second.

But, lest you think this is a terribly morbid blog, CHRISTmas comes to remind us of a few certainties.

Here are a few you can take to the bank.

God is real. God is love. God loves YOU!

The penalty for sin is DEATH. Everyone sins.

Someone MUST pay the penalty. You can either choose to pay it when you die, or you can allow someone else to pay it for you.

JESUS came to pay that debt. He paid a debt He did not owe, because we owed a debt we could not pay.

CHRISTmas is God's ultimate gift to us....the gift of LIFE through JESUS CHRIST.

Our life has a beginning and an end.

We will either die at some point OR we will meet the Lord in the air when He comes to rapture His church [all believers...not a building].

Make no mistake...HE IS COMING AGAIN!!

If this life was all there was, we would be most miserable. But it is not.

CHRISTmas reminds us that the BEST is yet to come!!!!!!!!!!!!

That baby in the manger was our downpayment for a future with God in Heaven.

But remember...that precious as He was... is NOT still in the manger. Nor is HE on the cross. He is alive!!!!!!!!!!

He offers to you the gift of CHRISTmas....eternal life through Jesus Christ.

As you celebrate CHRISTmas this year with your family, I pray that you will remember that JESUS is the GIFT and I pray that you will receive the greatest gift you've ever received by receiving that GIFT.

Because life is uncertain.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


My precious mother in law went to be with the Lord Sunday, December 13. Today we celebrated her life at her funeral service where I delivered the eulogy. Several family members have requested I post it.

I asked for the privilege of presenting Mamaw’s eulogy because I wanted to honor her for the blessing she has been to me, personally, and to our entire family.

Many people make jokes about their mother in law. And, although Mamaw has given us all cause to laugh many times, I can honestly say that none of the bad "mother in law" jokes ever applied to MY mother in law because I have been blessed to have the best mother in law in the world.

From the moment I met her almost 40 years ago, she treated me with love and kindness. Although I will say that she never quite forgave me for taking away her "baby". Even as recent as just a few weeks ago, she introduced Larry to Amanda’s boyfriend as her "baby" and me as the one who stole him away. But I jokingly reminded HER that I had taken good care of him and she agreed. Tom, her favorite son in law, said the second thing she said to him after being introduced was "What can I get you?" So typical of her…always reaching out and wanting to do something for someone else.

She was always so good natured, able to take a joke and able to kid as well. Even as sick as she was just days before her home-going, she told a tall handsome doctor who asked her how old she was that she was probably just 5 years older than him (and he was only about 40!) She loved life to the fullest . Whether it was riding a roller coaster or tickling one of her grandchildren til they squealed with laughter…even if they were an adult….she had a way to make you smile.

She loved people not being able to guess her age. She had aged so beautifully no one ever knew how old she really was! Even at 95 she was always so concerned about her appearance. She worked hard to coordinate her outfit, her jewelry, her shoes and always wanted her hair fixed and her make up on. Last night as many came to pay their respects, we heard time and again how beautiful she was…how young she looked and how sweet she was.

As she grew older, of course, like all of us she had her aches and pains, and more so in the last few years. But she never lost her sense of humor. Oh the stories we all could tell!! And oh the stories she used to tell our kids about the "good old days". She would have them begging for more. She’d put on their hats and pose for the camera and make us laugh so hard the tears would roll.

She never met a stranger so could strike up a conversation with anyone. For many years she loved playing all the games on the radio. She would have several radios throughout her house so she could not miss an opportunity to make the call. She was on a first name basis with many of the disk jockeys, especially Andy and Debbie of Kix 106, because she wouldn’t just call and answer whatever trivia question they asked, she would have to talk to them a bit first, telling them in detail exactly what she’d been doing all day. And she won money and prizes, too, more times than I can count!

A few Christmases ago she asked Amanda if she had a boyfriend. Amanda said ‘no’. To which Mamaw replied, "Well you know…. a good man is hard to find" and then she broke out in song. She sang an old, old song about a good man being hard to find. It was a very popular song during her teenage years and she had not forgotten a single word!! We asked her a few weeks later while at our house one night to sing it again for our kids. She never batted an eye, but sang every word!!! My only regret is that I did not record it.

She loved wrestling and Memphis State basketball. She loved to sew and can and bake…especially for others. She was the hardest worker I’ve ever known. Even at 95 when most have taken to their rocking chair, Mamaw was still going strong….maybe a little slower, but she was still going. There was not a lazy bone in her body. Just 2 weeks ago she was raking leaves in her yard and early last week when she first became sick, I had dropped by to take her birthday gift that had been late arriving. She greeted me at the door, but soon told me how bad she felt and about her having been sick since the day before. Yet as we moved into the den, there was her ironing board and she was ironing curtains! And not just any curtains, mind you…these were the ruffled variety that were a pain to iron if you felt GOOD. But…she wasn’t just going to sit around doing nothing even if she was sick. She was going to accomplish something out of her day.

She was fiercely independent, one of the things I loved most about her. She still lived alone at 95 and was driving up until just a couple of years ago. I remember several years ago we were going to cook out at her house for someone’s birthday and it came a rainstorm that day. I talked to her early in the day and asked if she had been to the grocery yet. She said ‘no’ and I told her that I’d go for her so she wouldn’t have to drive in the rain. She said "Well, if it doesn’t stop…" So I called back about noon because it had still been raining pretty hard. She had already been to the store. She did not want anyone to do anything for her that she could do for herself. Not that she didn’t appreciate your help…she was always VERY appreciative of anything anyone did for her, but she preferred to do it herself whether it was getting her groceries, cleaning her house or driving.

Mamaw without a doubt had the gift of mercy. She was always doing for someone else. I truly believe the Lord allowed her to remain on this earth as long as He did because she was such a blessing to so many. I don’t know of anyone who enjoys visiting a nursing home, yet Mamaw could go and stay for hours, visiting first one and then another. It did not matter if she knew them or not. If they looked sad or lonely, she was going to pull up a chair and visit, and if they were lucky, she’d also leave them a loaf of banana nut bread.

Up until she had to give up driving, she was quite a regular at the nursing home as well as visiting the shut-ins. She was older than most of them, yet that did not matter to her. She wasn’t sitting at home waiting on someone to come to her. She was more interested in how she could bless someone else.

She was not rich by the world’s standards, but she was so rich in so many other ways. She was rich in kindness, compassion, gentleness and forgiveness. She was one of the few people I’ve ever known who did not ever hold a grudge or harbor bad feelings toward anyone. No matter what had been done to her…if her feelings had been hurt, she had been offended, she had been let down or even if she had been done wrong, Mamaw forgave. She did not have a mean bone in her body. She never saw the bad in anyone…which got her in trouble at times. She was so trusting and I can hear her now if we scolded her about it, saying " But…he was SO nice".

She recently had some work done on her house and the men who came to work on it stayed all day. She noticed that one of them had a lunch and the other one didn’t. Most of us would have said "too bad…hate it for ya". Not Mamaw. She fixed him lunch and after he tasted how good her jelly was, she ended up selling him a pint to take home!

In going through her address book Sunday night to be sure we had contacted everyone, I found an address label on one of the pages. Beneath it she wrote "This is the address of a friend I’d never seen before and she ate lunch at my house and then sent me a real sweet card in a few days and I want to remember this." I had to smile when I read it because that was CLASSIC MAMAW. A friend she’d never met. I later learned that the woman had come to visit with a mutual friend and ended up having lunch with Mamaw. They had such a delightful time that Mamaw did not want to forget her new "friend".

She was a natural born saleswoman. She sold her wares at the Fair on the Square from the very first one til just a few years ago…32 years! She was well known for her banana nut bread, her fried pies and her canned goods. And everywhere she went she managed to tell whomever she was with about them and usually made a sale. After all, who could resist that sweet white-haired angel with the beautiful smile and sparkling blue eyes?

Yet for all the joy she brought to others and all the fun she could be, she had not lived 95 years without her share of heartache and sorrow. She lost a brother when she was younger and saw her family home burn. She lost parents and all of her siblings but one. She endured still crueler pain in losing her husband, a son and a grandson. As the years have gone by, she has lost friend after friend after friend. Still her own personal pain never stopped her from giving of herself to others nor did it ever make her bitter.

She has opened her home to many over the years. She has tenderly cared for sisters and brothers, children and grandchildren. And even if she couldn’t care for you personally, she called and sent cards, but she was always displaying her gift of mercy

She loved her family with every fiber of her being. Every single one of them. And she would be quick to tell you that she did not love one more than the other. And she didn’t. She loved each one and talked favorably about each one. They were all special to her from her oldest son to her youngest great-grandbaby….they were ALL precious in her sight. The love of her family was reciprocated to her this week, as grandchild after grandchild and great-grands as well, gathered around her hospital bed.

And that is what endeared her to me the most…her love of family. Oh how she loved each of us!! Not only was she a wonderful, caring, loving mother, but she was an awesome grandmother! After all she made home-made cookies and play dough!! She always made time for her grandchildren…whether little or older.

I will never forget how she used to come over almost every time one of our kids would return to college just to tell them good bye and bring them some cookies to take back to school. And she always wanted me to call her and let her know that they had made it back to school safely. She attended ball games, piano recitals and church programs. She not only loved her grandchildren, she enjoyed them.

But my favorite memory of all was when Curt was little. No one loved digging in the dirt more than Curt…he still does! Mamaw would give him an old spoon to dig with and I can hear her now saying "Son…I don’t care how deep a hole you dig, just fill it up when you are done." She wasn’t worried about him messing up something. She just let him be a little boy and enjoy himself. A couple of years ago, our granddaughte,r Kyleigh, was over at her house and she was following us around in the backyard. Next thing I know, here comes Mamaw with a spoon and little bucket so Kyleigh could dig under her tree. The dirt was hard and Kyleigh was having a hard time. So Mamaw stopped what she was doing, came over and got down on the ground with Kyleigh and got a hole started for her, showing her how to dig.

This week in the hospital her room has been filled with family and friends. She was affectionately known as Momma, Aunt Ruby, Mamaw, or Miss Ruby because all who knew her loved her. There will be a huge hole in all of our lives without her, but oh how much richer and sweeter our lives have been because of her. This Christmas will be especially hard without her yet I want to share with you what I think she would say about that if she could….

I’m spending my first Christmas in Heaven
A glorious, wonderful day!
I’ll stand with saints of the ages,
Who found Christ the Truth and the Way.

I’ll sing with the Heavenly choir.
Just think! I, who longed so to sing!
And oh, what celestial music
We’ll bring to our Savior and King!

We’ll sing the glad songs of redemption,
How Jesus to Bethlehem came,
And how they had called His Name Jesus,
That all might be saved through His Name.

We’ll sing once again with the angels,
The song that they sang that blest morn,
When shepherds first heard the glad story
That Jesus, the Savior, was born.

O, how I wish you could be here.
No Christmas on earth could compare
With all the rapture and glory
We’ll witness in Heaven so fair.

You know how I loved Christmas.
It seemed such a Wonderful Day,
With all of my loved ones around me,
The children so happy and gay.

Yes, now I can see why I loved it.
And oh, what a joy it will be
When you and my loved ones are with me
To share in the glories I see.

So Dear Ones on earth, here's my greeting:
Look up till the day dawn appears,
And oh, what a Christmas awaits us,
Beyond all our partings and tears!

Yes, Mamaw loved the Lord. She had walked with him for most of her life. Her witness was a quiet one, lived out day by day. She prayed faithfully for her loved ones and any who needed prayer. She would often say when we complained about the weather "Well that is the Lord’s work. We can’t complain about that." After I am finished speaking you will hear her favorite song "He Touched Me". I hope that you will listen carefully to the words, for it is Mamaw’s testimony. It speaks of one whose life has been changed by the touch of the Master’s hand upon their life. She is in Heaven today because Jesus touched her and changed HER life and I know that she wants to see each of you there some day as well. She did not get to heaven by being a good person, although she was one of the best. She did not get there by doing lots of good works, though she was known for them. She did not get there by being a faithful church member, although she was one. No…. she is in Heaven today because as the words of this song attest, one day the hand of Jesus touched her and she was no longer the same. I urge you to listen to each word of the song that follows and if you do not know Mamaw’s Jesus, I pray that you will give your heart to Him today.

Yes, my mother in law was priceless…a one of a kind…a rare jewel.

I think Proverbs says it best :

"Who can find a virtuous woman for her price is far above rubies,…..strength and honor are her clothing and she shall rejoice in time to come….in her mouth is the law of kindness. She looks well to the ways of her household and eats not the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed…………Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou [RUBY THOMAS] excel them all!"

Sunday, December 6, 2009


At an event where we sang CHRISTmas carols tonight, one line from one of them really caught my attention. See if you can recall WHICH carol it is from:

"Let every heart prepare Him room".

I thought about how parents...especially mommas....begin almost immediately to plan and prepare for their baby's nursery from the moment they discover they are expecting. I know I did! I knew in my mind exactly what I wanted although I had never actually seen it. And when I found that PERFECT wallpaper, I knew it was THE one!

Our family has welcomed two precious granddaughters in the last 3 years. Each time the big topic of discussion among us females was "how are you going to decorate the nursery?" Oh what fun it was as the girls began to pick out the colors, the bedding, the crib and all the other "essentials" to make it just perfect!

Our daughter had the first baby and as soon as they discovered it was a girl, I was very anxious to see what she had in mind as she HATED pink!! (God DOES have a sense of humor, doesn't He?) She did end up using some pink, albeit NOT baby pink. She is not a "fru-fru" person, so she opted for geometric shapes in lime green, hot pink and a tiny bit of yellow. She did all the drawing and measuring and it was ADORABLE!! Our son commented upon seeing it that the baby would never sleep because it was SO loud..HAHA!

Then last year came our second grand angel. Our daughter-in-love also began the search for the perfect color scheme and decor. She opted for chocolate brown and pink. Our daughter helped her measure and paint the stripes of hot pink, dark chocolate and milk chocolate. (You can't tell that I'm a chocoholic by the names of the colors, can you?) Our son once again gave his astute observation, stating that he'd be hungry every time he walked in his daughter's room because it looked like neopolitan ice cream!!!

Yes, planning and preparing that nursery is just one of the many aspects of all the anticipation that precedes the arrival of the little bundle of joy. And, today, most babies have the luxury of having their very own room!

Not so with a friend of ours who suddenly found herself expecting baby number 4!! So being the creative soul she is, she utilized a large walk-in closet and fitted the baby bed inside in order to give the baby some measure of solitude and quiet. It became quite the joke after a year or so as people began to ask her if her had "come out of the closet yet?" But, you do whatever works!

A missionary family that our Sunday School class supports lives near Mozambique. Although their accomodations are not primitive in the sense of them living in a grass hut....they are not what most of us enjoy today. It is small and simple by today's standards in America. But it is home to them. They had completed their family of 3 children....or so they thought. Then this week we got a letter from them stating that Baby #4 is on the way!!! Seems God had other plans. I'm wondering where this baby will sleep? Will they plan an elaborate nursery as mommas here do? Or will he/she have to be fitted in the best way possible..possibly in a corner of a sibling's room or maybe even a closet?

For all we do to prepare and "make room" for a coming arrival, how much do we do to make room for Christ in our hearts? Especially this time of year?

I know that personally my calendar is running over with things TO DO. In fact, I was recanting to a friend tonight all that I have TO DO in just the next 5 or 6 days and as I did, I began to feel a sense of panic creeping into my mind, wondering how I would ever get it all done, especially since my mother-in-law was also admitted to the hospital tonight and I do not know where that will lead. Decorating to finish, parties to prepare and cook for, a 2 night event I'm committed to at church, doctors appointments, shopping still to do, CHRISTmas cards to address and mail, CHRISTmas letters to write and send, and the list goes on and on and on..........

And before I know it, CHRISTmas morning will be here and it will all be over. And, as much as I love it ALL...........where do I fit Jesus in the midst of all that activity? Have I made room for Him...or have I been like the innkeepers in Bethlehem and found NO ROOM?

I realized that as I heard and contemplated that little phrase from the CHRISTmas carol tonight that I needed to make a conscious effort to slow down and acknowledge the REASON for all this hustle and bustle. As fun as it is, as much enjoyment as it brings, I must not....I MUST NOT lose sight of the ONE around whom it all revolves. Because if I do, then it has all become a huge waste of time.

As our women's ministry leader reminded us tonight....If we are to give ourselves to anything, let it be these:


for in the end...NOTHING ELSE MATTERS!!

For the remainder of this season, will you make a conscious effort to MAKE ROOM IN YOUR HEART FOR JESUS?

I pray that every time you hear the carol, JOY TO THE WORLD, for the rest of December, you will be reminded to


Thursday, December 3, 2009


Last week I was getting my nails done and struck up a conversation with the lady next to me. She had just retired from Fed Ex and our nail tech had given her a beautiful wrap that we were both gushing over. She commented that now she'd have something new and "snazzy" to wear during the holidays since she guessed she'd have to retire her CHRISTmas sweaters. I asked her what she meant.

She said her daughter was a student at Ole Miss. She had called her earlier in the week and asked if her Mom could quickly mail her one of her CHRISTmas sweaters. The reason? She needed one to wear to a CHRISTmas "tacky" party!! Ouch!!

I love CHRISTmas and for years I had quite the collection of CHRISTmas sweaters....pullovers, cardigans, and vests. I loved having something CHRISTmasy to wear every day of the month. It seems the tradition started quite a number of years ago when everyone was decorating sweatshirts. There were these iron-on appliques that you then outlined in glitter paint. Oh they were quite the craze!! My favorite was a deep blue sweatshirt with a huge Santa and sleigh with all the reindeer climbing into the night sky with all the stars aglitter above. I got many compliments on it every time I wore it. In fact, I wore it out! Now I wouldn't be caught dead in it.

I'd begun to notice over the last few years....even before my conversation with the Ole Miss mom...that only people MY age were wearing the CHRISTmas sweaters. So I had narrowed my collection down to the more subdued ones and to tee shirts with just a little something on them.

I got to thinking about how fads come and go. One year something is so the rage and the next year you better NOT wear it or you will be a fashion disaster. I know that Stacy and Clinton just go nuts every time they find a CHRISTmas sweater in someone's closet!

Lots of things besides CHRISTmas sweaters come and go. Car models change from year to year. Remember the llllooooonnnngggggg cadillacs of years past? Just look how far we've come from the Model T!

Decorating styles change in our homes. If you had a kitchen in the 70's, you had orange, avocado green and gold. (Hopefully none of you STILL have that !! HA!) My mother built her house in the mid 60's when turquoise was the "in" thing. She still has her turquoise appliances and every time someone sees them they are amazed because you never see those any more. And, yes, they still work!!!

I remember growing up seeing some people with the aluminum CHRISTmas trees. There was a multi colored light that swirled beneath it to make it change colors. Now you can get trees in every color under the rainbow. I have even seen trees that hang upside down!

Change is part of life.

But there is one constant in our lives that never changes. JESUS. He is the "same yesterday, today and forever." (Heb. 13:8) And, His Word never changes. Jesus said, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away." (Matt. 24:35)

Isn't it wonderful to know that JESUS will never go out of style and that His word remains the same? We do not have to constantly be checking for revisions. There are no amendments to His Word.

You can buy a computer today and by tomorrow it will be obsolete. You can drive off the showroom floor today with a $50,000 vehicle, but by tomorrow it will have already begun to depreciate. Yet Jesus just gets sweeter with time. The longer I serve Him, the sweeter He grows!!

The CHRISTmas story never grows old. God sent His only begotten Son in the form of a baby, to be born in a manger, born of a virgin so that He could be our Savior. Think about that story today and thank God that it never changes.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


We have been following the story of and praying for the son of our former pastor, Sam Shaw, who was brutally attacked in India a few weeks ago. Here is the testimony of a young man with spiritual maturity way beyond his physical years. Read and be blessed!

On November 8, 2009 in South Asia, I and two other pastors from The Austin Stone, were robbed and attacked by a small gang of South Asian youth. Unexpectedly, one of these youth sliced my left cheek with a straight razor. The wound was 5 inches long and an inch deep. It spanned from about my left sideburn to the left corner of my mouth. Fortunately, the two other men with me were physically unharmed. We ran for safety in the middle of the city, pleaded with locals for help, and finally ended up in the emergency room at a local hospital where a doctor stitched up my face with three layers of stitches.

After arriving back home, I realized that this attack was a catalyst to great spiritual and emotional growth. After a week long of reflection, I have outlined below the lessons that I have learned. I hope my story and these lessons will encourage others to radical obedience to Jesus and mobilize them to the mission of God.

* The straight razor that scarred my face has become an altar of intercession for those South Asian youth who attacked us. My face is the sacrifice that was put on this alter. I doubt if any prayers have ever been lifted to the Father for those youth, that is, until they attacked us. Almost immediately, we began praying for them. Since then, thousands of people have interceded for them, for their joy. In this way, therefore, God turned their sin of unjustly attackingus into a great blessing for them.

*The Lord brought me to Psalm 97:11 a few days after the attack: “Light is sown for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart.” I realized that the straight razor was not only an altar of intercession for those youth, but it was also a plow, tilling the soil of my body and prepping it for sowing. The straight razor plow opened the way for The straight razor plow opened the way for the seeds of joy and compassion for those youth to be sown in the soil of my heart. My wound, therefore, is now a memorial repository of joy in God and passion for the joy of unreached peoples.

* The sowing of my soil - my face -also meant uprooting some of my weeds. On the car ride to the emergency room, I distinctly remember feeling sick about my sin. I was horrified that even in amoment of intense suffering, the weeds of pride grew. For a moment, I saw that the nasty roots of my sin ran deeper than I could fathom.

*This past week, I was blown away when I realized the sowing of seed and the sprouting of the plant have onething in common: the breaking of the soil. That is amazing! The breaking of the soil is twice the key moment in the process of harvesting a plant. In a garden, the soil is broken with hope! In my situation, the breaking of my face at the plow of those South Asian youth was outwardly quite grotesque, but spiritually it was a natural and good gift from Above, opening the way for future fruit bearing!

*Suffering is a natural part of being sent on mission. The Lord revealed this to me a few days after the attack. When Jesus sent out his followers on their first mission, he told them that they were going out as "sheep in the midst of wolves" (Mt. 10:16). For Jesus, suffering at the hands of the wolves was part of the sending! The apostle Peter says that we have been "called" to unjustly suffer (1 Peter 2:21). Therefore, trials such as ours in South Asia are not abnormal to our lives as Christians; rather, they are a very normal and very necessary part of our calling as Christians. Unjust suffering is not "strange" when you walk the Calvary Road, so let's not treat it as such (1 Peter 4:12).

*God kept all of His promises to us, even while we were attacked. Immediately after our attack, while still seeking help from local authorities, Psalm 34:19 came to mind and comforted me in prayer: "Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all." A few days later, the Lord led me to Ps. 97:10, "He preserves the lives of his saints; he delivers them from the hand of the wicked."

*Yes, the Lord preserved our lives and delivered us from further affliction. If the straight razor hit me a few inches lower, it would have sliced open my neck, leaving me near death. If ithit me a few inches higher, it would have taken out my left eye. The wound missed my major facial nerve by probable millimeters. If this nerve was severed, I would have been paralyzed on the left side of my face. The path ofthe straight razor was perfectly guided by my heavenly Father to thwart away these afflictions.

*Sometimes the Lord might keep us from feelings so that we will rely on simple faith in His written promises. Immediately after the attack, as we ran for safety and sought medical care, I wanted to feel the Lord's presence with us. Our hearts were racing, our emotions were barely steady as blood gushed from my wound onto my shirt and pants. I wanted the physical comfort of the Lord's presence. But I did not feel it; rather, I had to believe it. Where my feelings failed, my mind thrived. I remembered Scripture and believed it. My heart followed the leadership of my head and believed in the Lord's comfort and presence even when I did not feel it. This experience encourages me to memorize more Scripture, so that in my next trial, my head will be fully armed to lead my heart.

*I am so deeply grateful for the gift of our suffering in South Asia because I think it has led me one step further to obeying my life verse, given my by parents when I was an infant: "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go" (Josh. 1:9). I feel bolder in my proclamation of the Gospel. What can someone do to me now? Knife me? Been there, done that.

*I learned the irreplaceable worth of comfort from Christian brothers and sisters. The two other pastors with me were by my side in support throughout my immediate physical recovery. I cannot thank them enough for their sacrificial care for me. They are true comrades. The prayers and encouragement of many all over the world have been deeply comforting and encouraging.
Our suffering in South Asia was a "gracious thing" inthe sight of God! It was a gift of grace! Listen to the profound message of 1 Peter 2:19-21: "For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps."

*I don't want to waste a good moment of suffering. The legacy that I want to leave on this earth and to my family is a heap of stories of radical, simple devotion to Jesus! I am learning that the Calvary Road is not a path merely to endure; rather, the Calvary Road is to be embraced with joy and hope! The Calvary Road is a "gracious" road! That straight razor may be the greatest blessing of the year for my family and I as it leads me one step further on the Calvary Road - the Road that my Lord embraced on his way to die for thugs like me and the South Asian man who knifed me.