Friday, September 23, 2016

A Word or Two About These Days, and Choice

I confess to feeling sad of late. Watching the news and tracing the rhetoric of this years Presidential campaign, and the vitriol that has followed. Listening to talking heads on TV, and witnessing the division in our country at heights I cannot recall - even in the decade of the 60s - including Colin Kaepernick not standing for our nation's anthem, and now the similar act of others. And then, last night, gazing at coverage of one more city, Charlotte NC, in riot over perceived (whether real in this case, or not) racial bigotry - all of this has, frankly, left me sad.

But today this sadness came to a head as I received a text and pic from my daughter, Taylor, who is visiting Philadelphia, PA. to attend a wedding. She is with our dear family friend, Debbie Irons, and they've taken this opportunity to visit sites of this famed city, such as Independence Hall (aka the State House of Pennsylvania), pictured here. This is where our nation's Declaration of Independence and Constitution were signed. So that when I saw the pic Taylor sent my heart was seized. Seeing it and reflecting over what now is, I wondered over what we have become. How have we come to this? What has happened to our sense of unity, common ground, or our national thankfulness and pride? At least... that is where I began. But now, in thinking further, I offer up this - for, for me, it brings both a reminder and some needed hope.

How so? By remembering that the idea, which is America, has always been, first and foremost, just that - an 'idea.' One capable of creating, if you will, in any of us the 'hoped after ideal.' For think of it. Both those who framed our Constitution and those who fought for our liberty were simply those who, one person at a time, chose to believe in this idea and thereby live. In other words there were, even then, those who disagreed - not only across the ocean but here on this very land. They were those who saw things differently, who did not want change, who chose not to join in and who even chose to resist. Did this dash effort or halt progress?  Did this change sentiment or cause our constitutional framers and militia to give up?  No! The majority held. Some early on and some sometime later.  And so, today, we remain hopeful in this ideal. One which still, on any given day, is either true or not- but certainly only for those who choose it to be.

Now the way of my point is this. Many of us recall parents teaching us of choices we could make everyday - to choose right over wrong, love over hate and good over evil. Like mine, perhaps yours reminded you this 'choice' would never be any more true than it was right then - encountering your next circumstance or the person you next might meet. So when Taylor sent me her pic my reaction, though at first sad, is now changed. In realizing that the framers of our constitution and those who declared our independence did not do so because of their reality but because this was the reality they chose - one they wanted so; likewise, my own patriotism and hope should not be based only on what is, but as much so on what should and yet might be. Meaning, my patriotism - the best part of it - lies squarely in choice. My choice everyday to defend your right and mine to have an opinion, and do so in respect and awe of my fellow man. Not with hate, vitriol, vengeance or revenge, but with love. Yes, racism is real in America. To say it is not would be foolish. Like you I don't like it. Not one bit. But why is it so? Not because our constitution is failed, but because we are fallen, sinful and come short, each of us, of God's ideal.

Christ once told His disciples that freedom is not found in circumstance, but in knowing - saying, 'you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.'  He was talking of Himself, and of potential freedom from sin through 'knowing' Him. Today I stand on this very same thing - both as a man in Christ free from sin because of Him, and as an American citizen free from tyranny over ones actions and my own mind. I stand and choose. I choose not to hate but to love. I choose not vengeance but forgiveness, not sentimentalism but freedom - even from those with whom I disagree. In standing so I am free indeed. I will not give up simply because of someone else's response, and in this way my sadness over what is can be replaced with hope in what might yet be. I will not be made a prisoner.  For in Christ, and in these United States, I am still... free.

Indeed,

Pastor Sam






Thursday, July 7, 2016

Two More Minutes, Papa!

This week I have been busy preparing for a mission trip to Brazil. Over the past 10 summers I and other ParkwayHills members have traveled there with P70, a church planting and strengthening initiative founded by Jairo Campos. Long story short - during this time we have seen many new churches begun, thousands come to Christ, and a host of young pastors called and trained into ministry in the north part of the Brazilian State of Minas Gerais, and -... it has been amazing. 

Of course, before leaving I also wanted to see my grandchildren, so, I did a quick 48 hour road-trip to Oklahoma City and back. It was good - but, I do confess to feeling a bit pained when my daughter said, "looking forward to when you can stay more than a day, Dad." She didn't mean to pick, but, it did hit home nonetheless.

As I was preparing to leave, I went in to say goodbye to Cannon, the oldest, just turning 29 mos. (2 yrs. 5 mos.) He was on the floor of his brother's room, Colt, and playing, so I bent down to kiss him goodbye.  As I did he shook his head, NO. Then, as if rehearsed, he patted hard on the floor indicating he wanted me to lay down beside him, and said, "NO! Play me! 2 more minutes, Papa!"  His intention was clear.  He didn't want me to leave, He wanted me to stay and play. To get on the floor right then, and, all this with the negotiation for just... '2 minutes more."

Now Cannon is young and the chances of him comprehending what 2 minutes really means are slim.  Still, it was a phrase he'd heard - and one he'd learned to use in appeasing his desire for continuance.  A desire God has given us all.  With the capacity to feel and love comes a desire for more.  And, Cannon, well, he'd been bit with the bug, too, so... '2 minutes more, Papa', became his sturdy appeal.

Well, I gave Cannon his 2 minutes.  In fact, I gave him another 10. And, when I did leave it was much harder on me than him. As I drove off I could not help but think of how we all do this very same thing - how we all come into this world (after a a fashion) and go out - often asking for just 2 minutes more.  

Back in Texas one of the Godliest women I know is about to see Jesus face to face. She is dying. Or, as I have often said, leaving the land of the dying to move on to the land of the living. Her name is Adele Glensky, and our church, especially her LIFEgroup, has been praying for her for months.  First, for her healing, and now, for mercy and peace in her passing.    

In each of my many conversations with Adele over the last weeks, I have asked what she might want me to pray for.  Early on it was for healing, but, of late, it has been for strength.  I have come to realize, though, that Adele was asking me to pray for more than strength to live - she was asking God for strength to carry on, peacefully, even in the midst of this thing we call dying. And though she has never asked me out loud for more time, she has spoken about the joy she feels in seeing her husband, her daughters, her grandchildren and her friends - each and every time, perhaps just one more time - or, in her case, just 2 minutes more.

This afternoon I stopped by Adele's on my way home from Oklahoma, as I realized the likelihood of my seeing her again this side of glory was not high. And, though the visit was not long, it was good.  She was comfortable and at peace. As I returned to my car to drive the rest of the way home, I thought about both she and Cannon. Just 2 minutes more, Papa! I thought about all our negotiations with God in this life. How we ask Him, over and again, for more of this and more of that, and then, finally, often, for just some more time. Then I realized. Our desire - the desire for time, itself - is something given us by God (Ecclesiastes 3:11) And this - that what He has given us is realized ultimately only through Him. In the moment we step into His presence we receive that for which we have always pined - we receive from Him, not just 2 minutes more - but all the time of eternity. A perfect and lasting satisfaction in the thing we can never have otherwise outside of receiving it from HIm. More time, all of time, forever, with Him.

2 more minutes, Papa, indeed!

Pastor Sam

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Kathy, Karen and the Gospel

In the past 24 hours I have been asked more than I can count two questions, "Pastor, how do you cope with the horror and heartache life throws at you and the people you pastor?" And this - "And what do you say to people when they face such?" My answer, though thoughtful, comes quick - "sometimes I cry, and always I remind them of the gospel."

As I was finishing our Board of Trustees meeting Monday evening, my cell phone lit up. Belinda was calling. Already in the middle of another call, she was insistent - calling back again and again, which meant something important was up and she needed me to answer. I called her back, and she blurted, 'you need to call Tim Boobar,' stating his wife Kathy had been shot.  She knew nothing else. My heart raced to high gear - Kathy, Tim and daughter Carly have been members of ParkwayHills for years, and had just been part of our trip to Israel this past Christmas. One of our finest and more faithful families. I braced myself for what might come and called Tim's cell phone.  Sitting in my truck, Carly, Tim's daughter, answered the phone sobbing. I asked, "Carly where are you?"  "In McKinney," she said.  "Is your Mom OK?" She sobbed deeply, then cried the words I dreaded, "Pastor, she's gone." "Mom has been killed." I groaned. Holding back my own shock and pain. "Where are you," I asked. And, as she was giving me the address, I turned my truck north toward McKinney, TX. and my next hours, which were to be as horrific as any I'd ever known. Kathy and her sister Karen had been killed by Karen's estranged husband. Two victims of the violence and pain becoming far too familiar in the culture in which we live.

Pastor's are not supposed to have favorites, but if I did, Kathy would be on my list. I cannot recall anything from her but kindness. Something true of the entire family. She and Tim had been sweethearts since they were 16. And Carly, their daughter, now a student at TCU, had proven a model child in our youth group and a standout student at her school, Prestonwood Christian Academy. Kathy had served on our church's Finance Team, she and her husband were faithful attenders of both worship and LIFEgroup, and a whole list of other charities and civic causes were supported by her through her work with our Collin County Chapter of Junior League. Kathy was special.

But, if you knew Kathy at all, you also knew that she loved her twin sister. They were inseparable.  She had told her husband when they married that she never wanted to live more than 10 minutes from her sister.  And... that became so. When the horror occurred Kathy was playing the role she so often played, that of support, as her sister was going through a difficult separation from her husband. He had suffered with substance abuse, had become erratic, and Karen had decided it was over. The two sisters were together when he came to end Karen's life. No doubt, both pleading one for the other.

In ministry, if you are a pastor, you shepherd people. Real people. You lead them, pray with them, love them, and, sometimes... you cry with them. Kathy and Karen's lives were cut short - not by any fault of their own, but by the brokenness of our world. They loved each other deeply.  Coming into this world together, they left the land of dying and entered the land of the living together, as well. For a while - a long while - we will all reflect on the horrific nature of how their lives ended. But eventually, even for the family, thoughts will turn otherwise. They will be remembered for who they were, what they gave, how they loved and how they lived. And, for we who are in Christ, we will cling to the truth - the gospel - which becomes ever more real. In an instant Jesus received them to Himself. Their savior - the One whom both had placed their trust in - welcomed them home. John 14, 1st Corinthians 15, and the entire record of God's Word promises us this.

So I told the young reporter from Channel 5, Meredith, when asked - 'pastor, what do you tell people in times like this?"  "I remind them of the gospel, Meredith" - "that Jesus loves them, and that, if we know Christ ourselves, we will see them both again."  "And, then... sometimes I cry.  For pastor's cry, too."

Love,


Pastor Sam





Kathy, Karen and the Gospel

In the past 24 hours I have been asked more than I can count two questions, "Pastor, how do you cope with the horror and heartache life throws at you and the people you pastor?" And this - "And what do you say to people when they face such?" My answer, though thoughtful, comes quick - "sometimes I cry, and always I remind them of the gospel."

As I was finishing our Board of Trustees meeting Monday evening, my cell phone lit up. Belinda was calling. Already in the middle of another call, she was insistent - calling back again and again, which meant something important was up and she needed me to answer. I called her back, and she blurted, 'you need to call Tim Boobar,' stating his wife Kathy had been shot.  She knew nothing else. My heart raced to high gear - Kathy, Tim and daughter Carly have been members of ParkwayHills for years, and had just been part of our trip to Israel this past Christmas. One of our finest and more faithful families. I braced myself for what might come and called Tim's cell phone.  Sitting in my truck, Carly, Tim's daughter, answered his phone sobbing. I asked, "Carly where are you?"  "In McKinney," she said.  "Is your Mom OK?" She sobbed deeply, then cried the words I dreaded, "Pastor she's gone." "Mom has been killed." I groaned deeply. Holding back my own shock and pain. "Where are you," I asked. And, as she was giving me the address I turned my truck north toward McKinney, TX. and my next hours, which were to be as horrific as any I had known. Kathy and her sister Karen had been killed by Karen's estranged husband. Two victims of the violence and pain far too familiar in the culture in which we live.

Pastor's are not supposed to have favorites, but if I did, Kathy would be on my list. I cannot recall anything from her but kindness. Something true of the entire family. She and Tim had been sweethearts since they were 16. And Carly, their daughter, now a student at TCU, had proven a model child in our youth group and a standout student at her school, Prestonwood Christian Academy. Kathy had served on our church's Finance Team, she and her husband were faithful attenders of both worship and LIFEgroup, and a whole list of other charities and civic notables were supported by her through her work with our Collin County Chapter of Junior League. Kathy was special.

But if you knew Kathy at all - you knew too that she loved her twin sister.  They sere inseparable.  She had told her husband when they married that she never wanted to live more than 10 minutes from her sister.  And... that became so. When the horror occurred Kathy was playing the role she often played, that of support, as her sister was going through a difficult separation from her husband. He had suffered with substance abuse, had become erratic, and Karen had finally decided it was over.  The two were together when he came to end Karen's life. No doubt, both pleading one for the other.

In ministry, if you are a pastor, you shepherd people. Real people. You lead them, pray with them, love them, and, sometimes... you cry with them. Kathy and Karen's lives were cut short - not by any fault of their own, but by the brokenness of our world.  They loved each other deeply.  Coming into this world together, they left the land of dying and entered the land of the living together, as well. For a while - a long while - we will all reflect on the horrific nature of how their lives ended.  But eventually, even for the family, thoughts will turn otherwise. They will be remembered for who they were, what they gave, how they loved and how they lived. And, for us who are in Christ, we know the truth - the gospel becomes ever more real. Jesus received them to Himself. Their savior - the One whom both had placed their trust in - welcomed them home.  John 14, 1st Corinthians 15, and the entire record of God's Word promises us this.

So I told the young reporter from Channel 5, Meredith, when asked - 'pastor, what do you tell people in times like this?"  "I remind them of the gospel, Meredith" - "that Jesus loves them, and that, if we know Christ ourselves, we will see them both again."  "And, then... sometimes I cry.  For pastor's cry, too."

Love,


Pastor Sam





Kathy, Karen and the Gospel

In the past 24 hours I have been asked more than I can count two questions, "Pastor, how do you cope with the horror and heartache life throws at you and the people you pastor?" And this - "And what do you say to people when they face such?" My answer, though thoughtful, comes quick - "sometimes I cry, and always I remind them of the gospel."

As I was finishing our Board of Trustees meeting Monday evening, my cell phone lit up. Belinda was calling. Already in the middle of another call, she was insistent - calling back again and again, which meant something important was up and she needed me to answer. I called her back, and she blurted, 'you need to call Tim Boobar,' stating his wife Kathy had been shot.  She knew nothing else. My heart raced to high gear - Kathy, Tim and daughter Carly have been members of ParkwayHills for years, and had just been part of our trip to Israel this past Christmas. One of our finest and more faithful families. I braced myself for what might come and called Tim's cell phone.  Sitting in my truck, Carly, Tim's daughter, answered his phone sobbing. I asked, "Carly where are you?"  "In McKinney," she said.  "Is your Mom OK?" She sobbed deeply, then cried the words I dreaded, "Pastor she's gone." "Mom has been killed." I groaned deeply. Holding back my own shock and pain. "Where are you," I asked. And, as she was giving me the address I turned my truck north toward McKinney, TX. and my next hours, which were to be as horrific as any I had known. Kathy and her sister Karen had been killed by Karen's estranged husband. Two victims of the violence and pain far too familiar in the culture in which we live.

Pastor's are not supposed to have favorites, but if I did, Kathy would be on my list. I cannot recall anything from her but kindness. Something true of the entire family. She and Tim had been sweethearts since they were 16. And Carly, their daughter, now a student at TCU, had proven a model child in our youth group and a standout student at her school, Prestonwood Christian Academy. Kathy had served on our church's Finance Team, she and her husband were faithful attenders of both worship and LIFEgroup, and a whole list of other charities and civic notables were supported by her through her work with our Collin County Chapter of Junior League. Kathy was special.

But if you knew Kathy at all - you knew too that she loved her twin sister.  They sere inseparable.  She had told her husband when they married that she never wanted to live more than 10 minutes from her sister.  And... that became so. When the horror occurred Kathy was playing the role she often played, that of support, as her sister was going through a difficult separation from her husband. He had suffered with substance abuse, had become erratic, and Karen had finally decided it was over.  The two were together when he came to end Karen's life. No doubt, both pleading one for the other.

In ministry, if you are a pastor, you shepherd people. Real people. You lead them, pray with them, love them, and, sometimes... you cry with them. Kathy and Karen's lives were cut short - not by any fault of their own, but by the brokenness of our world.  They loved each other deeply.  Coming into this world together, they left the land of dying and entered the land of the living together, as well. For a while - a long while - we will all reflect on the horrific nature of how their lives ended.  But eventually, even for the family, thoughts will turn otherwise. They will be remembered for who they were, what they gave, how they loved and how they lived. And, for us who are in Christ, we know the truth - the gospel becomes ever more real. Jesus received them to Himself. Their savior - the One whom both had placed their trust in - welcomed them home.  John 14, 1st Corinthians 15, and the entire record of God's Word promises us this.

So I told the young reporter from Channel 5, Meredith, when asked - 'pastor, what do you tell people in times like this?"  "I remind them of the gospel, Meredith" - "that Jesus loves them, and that, if we know Christ ourselves, we will see them both again."  "And, then... sometimes I cry.  For pastor's cry, too."

Love,


Pastor Sam





Kathy, Karen and the Gospel

In the past 24 hours I have been asked more than I can count two questions, "Pastor, how do you cope with the horror and heartache life throws at you and the people you pastor?" And this - "And what do you say to people when they face such?" My answer, though thoughtful, comes quick - "sometimes I cry, and always I remind them of the gospel."

As I was finishing our Board of Trustees meeting Monday evening, my cell phone lit up. Belinda was calling. Already in the middle of another call, she was insistent - calling back again and again, which meant something important was up and she needed me to answer. I called her back, and she blurted, 'you need to call Tim Boobar,' stating his wife Kathy had been shot.  She knew nothing else. My heart raced to high gear - Kathy, Tim and daughter Carly have been members of ParkwayHills for years, and had just been part of our trip to Israel this past Christmas. One of our finest and more faithful families. I braced myself for what might come and called Tim's cell phone.  Sitting in my truck, Carly, Tim's daughter, answered his phone sobbing. I asked, "Carly where are you?"  "In McKinney," she said.  "Is your Mom OK?" She sobbed deeply, then cried the words I dreaded, "Pastor she's gone." "Mom has been killed." I groaned deeply. Holding back my own shock and pain. "Where are you," I asked. And, as she was giving me the address I turned my truck north toward McKinney, TX. and my next hours, which were to be as horrific as any I had known. Kathy and her sister Karen had been killed by Karen's estranged husband. Two victims of the violence and pain far too familiar in the culture in which we live.

Pastor's are not supposed to have favorites, but if I did, Kathy would be on my list. I cannot recall anything from her but kindness. Something true of the entire family. She and Tim had been sweethearts since they were 16. And Carly, their daughter, now a student at TCU, had proven a model child in our youth group and a standout student at her school, Prestonwood Christian Academy. Kathy had served on our church's Finance Team, she and her husband were faithful attenders of both worship and LIFEgroup, and a whole list of other charities and civic notables were supported by her through her work with our Collin County Chapter of Junior League. Kathy was special.

But if you knew Kathy at all - you knew too that she loved her twin sister.  They were inseparable. She'd told Tim when they married that she never wanted to live more than 10 minutes from her sister. And... that became so! When the horror occurred Kathy was playing the role she so often played, that of support, as her sister was going through a painful separation from her husband. He had suffered with substance abuse, had recently become erratic, and Karen had decided it was over. The two sisters were together when he came to end Karen's life. No doubt, both pleading one for the other.

In ministry, if you are a pastor, you shepherd people. Real people. You lead them, pray with them, love them, and, sometimes... you cry with them. Kathy and Karen's lives were cut short - not by any fault of their own, but by the brokenness of our world. They loved each other deeply.  Coming into this world together, they left the land of dying and entered the land of the living together, as well. For a while - a long while - we will reflect on the horrific nature of how their lives ended. But eventually, even for the family, thoughts will turn otherwise. They will be remembered for who they were, what they gave, how they loved and how they lived. And, for we who are in Christ, we who know the truth, the gospel will become ever more real. For we know that Jesus received them to Himself. Their Savior - the One whom both girls had placed their trust in - welcomed them home.  John 14, 1st Corinthians 15, and our entire record of God's Word promises this.

So I told the young reporter from Channel 5, Meredith, when asked - 'what do you tell people in times like this?"  "I remind them of the gospel, Meredith" - "that Jesus loves them, and that, if we know Christ ourselves, we will see them both again."  "And, then... sometimes I cry. For pastor's cry, too."

Love,


Pastor Sam





Wednesday, May 4, 2016

A PASTOR'S REMINDER: National Day Of Prayer, May 5

Dear Church, 
This past Sunday I announced to the congregation my heartfelt desire that we (the parkwayhills church) commit to make this years National Day of Prayer – not just a political event – but an actual day in which we stop to pray for our nation and our nation’s leaders.  

Now I do not have to tell you that the prayer from 2 Chronicles 7, oft quoted on this occasion, is not intended as a prayer for the US as some form of replacement theology positioning America as the new Israel.  The answer to that is, of course, no. This view is a faulted hermeneutic, and we have talked about this. But, the prayer of Chronicles was, and should still be, understood as a message to the people of God about the importance of our own repentance and God’s ability to do what He will, when He will and as He will – through us – as we humble ourselves before Him. This said, we should always pray for such among God’s people.

Beyond this, however, is a clear Biblical call that we, as God's church and Christ's followers, be faithful to recognize His authority and Kingdom plan over all creation, and that we remain faithful to pray for and bear witness to our fellow citizens and leaders  - first to sense and then to follow His lead. Why wouldn’t we pray for this?  

So… let me encourage you to pray - not only tomorrow but on everyday thereafter. For If ever exists a time when such is needed from God’s people, it is now!
The following link will is shared as a help to you.  http://www.wnyprays.org/prayer-guides/
Blessings, 
Pastor Sam