Home at Last

Home at last — those are wonderful words.  In addition to the 10 hour + road trip we had on Saturday.  Yesterday morning, I preached at Preston and then we took our daughter Rebecca to Southern Wesleyan University, which meant another road trip.  Under the best conditions it takes 4 1/2 hours, on our way down we were caught in traffic for almost an hour because of an accident.  In the 36 hours from 6 AM on Saturday to 12 midnight last night, Pam and I have spent 22 hours on the road.  Hopefully today, I will get some much needed rest so that I can be ready for Salvation Army tomorrow.

What I haven’t told you yet is that Saturday morning we woke up with a dead battery in the van and needed to get jumpstarted at 6:00 AM.  Several times yesterday the van didn’t want to start, so this morning we need to go out and get a new battery for the van.  Yea!

I really hope to share some stories from FLAME X.  We had a wonderful time — the worship was great — Pam enjoyed her classes.  I got to spend some quality time with my friends Wayne and Mark and others.  We met some other Wesleyan Bloggers; David and Daniel.  It was a great week and I’ll be sharing videos and pictures and stories over the next few weeks.  It’s time to go and get a new battery.  Later…

Music Monday

This morning we woke up to a cool (relatively speaking) 57 degrees.  Today is supposed to be a repeat weather wise of yesterday.  The air-conditioner is still cranking.  Last night as I discovered that there are only three worship videos left from my time at FLAME in April.  Today’s video is the FLAME worship band leading Steve Fee’s “All Because of Jesus.”  We had an acoustic band, so it sounds a little different than the album versions.  I found out this summer we will have at least one electric guitar, so we’ll reprise this and electrify it in August.

This really comes off last night’s thoughts about grace — God’s grace really is amazing — to think that God would love us — even in our sinful state — really is amazing.  As we sang yesterday morning — It really is such love that God would love a sinner such as I.  How wonderful is love like this.  Because of His amazing love and grace and mercy — it’s all because of Jesus that we are alive.

Lessons from a Popcorn Bowl, Part 2

Maybe I should have called this
The Popcorn Parables

Part 1 was my inspiration, while part two comes in part from my good friend Wayne (actually most of it was his idea).

Thursday morning Barb cooked us up another great batch of that bacon-fried popcorn. This had all kinds of little bits and pieces of bacon in the grease. The picture on the left shows what happens once you finish the popped corn. It doesn’t look all that appetizing. You might even be tempted to throw it away. The Kingdom of heaven is like the bottom of a popcorn bowl. It would have been a real shame to throw out what was left in the bottom of this bowl, because there was all kinds of good stuff on the bottom, most of it was little bits and pieces of bacon and little bits of partially popped popcorn. (how’s that for illiteration.) If Wayne and I would have thrown out this bowl of popcorn we would have missed the best part. “So what’s that have to do with the Kingdom of heaven?” you ask.

What about the people that we meet each day who look beaten up and used like the pieces at the bottom of this bowl? Are we tempted just to throw them away because they seem insignificant? I know that to some people the investment we make in Mosaic doesn’t seem worth the cost. Maybe they think that we should just throw it away. What I find however is that there are some real gems (some real pieces of bacon) hiding away. I’ve even found that in the church. Some are willing to give up on someone because they are insignificant — perhaps they’re antagonistic toward the gospel or worse. In my experience, we are too quick to want to throw them away — to marginalize them as not worth our time and yet, it is these little, seemingly insignificant pieces of bacon, when invested in are not insignificant at all and play a big part in building the Kingdom.

So, the next time you seem someone you think is insignificant, remember the bottom of a bowl of bacon-fried popcorn. Carp Diem!

Lessons from a Popcorn Bowl, Part 1

About the middle of last week our cook David had to cook up some bacon for the string beans we were having. He cooked up quite a bit so there was leftovers for things like a potato bar. Take a look at the picture of one students “loaded” baked potato. Anyway, for the rest of the week we had bacon bits in various forms.
The surprise came on Thursday. Wednesday, David had been talking about when he was a kid, a tradition would be to pop up popcorn in bacon grease and then sit down and listen to the Grand Ole Opry. Now at first popcorn cooked in bacon grease doesn’t sound so appitizing. I’ll admit I wasn’t so sure and neither were some of the students.
David and Barb cooked up some on Thursday and it was wonderful, not real good for you but wonderful. On Friday they cooked up some more, but this time there were bits of bacon in the grease. They put it in a big aluminum bowl. I spooned a handful into my bowl and then David showed me that there were bits at the bottom. UMMMMM! I dished myself another bowl, but instead of just getting what was on top, I dug deep to get the good stuff.
Lesson learned: While the popcorn on the top was just as flavorful as that on the bottom, when I dug deep I received a special reward. How many times is it like that in our Christian life — we settle for what’s easiest and on the top, when we could dig deep and find some special rewards. My challenge from this story is to dig deep for the things of God, you’ll never know what special reward you might find at the bottom.

Live! from Table Rock — Friday Night

Actually not one part of that is true. I am blogging live, but not from Table Rock. I arrived back in Martinsville last night about 10. Thanks to Roger and Blaine and Gayle for getting me home.

We brought the wi-fi service at Table Rock to its knees yesterday and it finally gave out. That’s why there wasn’t any post last night.

Yesterday’s chapel was great as we remembered God’s grace and mercy. The video was powerful as we remember where Christ has brought us from and a reminder to us all that there are people all around who need us to be Christ to them — that Kingdom work is important.

The last day is always sort of down, because we know that we have to say goodbye (at least temporarily) and I hate goodbyes. I did get a chance to go into the great metropolis of Pickens, 17 miles away. So, that about wraps it up from Table Rock. I have a few other tidbits that I’ll share over the next week. Blessings

Live! from Table Rock — Thursday TheNight

It’s getting late as I write this. I was really hoping to get to bed early tonight. But we are putting the wi-fi internet capability here at Table Rock to a real test. Today was all about servanthood. That theme came through loud and clear throughout the day. Once again, God was with us as we worshiped. The worship at the last four FLAMEs where I have served have been different and that difference is good. Each time it is a little different. My FLAME friend, Pastor Joy has a great perspective on this. We like to put God in a box at times, especially when it comes to worship. God has been opening my eyes this week. Every day is a little different, but He is here and I desire to worship Him with everything I have.

It is now time to go to bed and rejuvinate for tomorrow’s final day. Blessings…Dale

The Servants of FLAME

This morning during chapel, Wayne talked about service. If you check an earlier post from today, our FLAME friend Mark Wilson quoted something very similar. One of the aspects of FLAME are the servants behind the scenes. They don’t do it for the recognition. They cook and feed anywhere between 50 and 300 students depending on the conference; they take out the trash; they wash the dishes; they sweep and clean. FLAME is dependent on those faithful servants. Some of those faithful servants are even students attending FLAME that help out, without being asked. Tonight’s photo essay is a tribute to some of the servants of FLAME.

Even servants need a break from time to time. Joe (above) is a layperson who drove his pastor here and volunteers in the kitchen. Hub (below) is a volunteer as well and is related to our cooks.

MaryLou and Barb — Mary is one of our two cooks. But they are much more than cooks. They love on the students and pray for them and they are very good with names and make each one of us feel important. Barb is faithful volunteer serving at several FLAME a year with her husband Hub.

David — the other of our two cooks — again a wonderful servant’s heart and a great cook. Also famous for his “Davidisms,” great little sayings that make us smile.

Pastors like Al come back to reinvest in FLAME. It is this servant spirit and reinvestment that makes FLAME possible.

Sometimes even children of FLAME students get into the act. It’s all part of the “ministry of tables” that gets the job done, so that students and professors can concentrate on their part.

Live! from Table Rock — Wednesday Night

Today was a great day again at FLAME. This morning we watched the video about food at FLAME. See the post below. For the first time this week, we had a band during worship, which was fun. We had a missionary report and before all this got started my daughter Rebecca showed up from Southern Wesleyan for the day to visit dad. It was so nice to talk with each other and share some things. I brought her a care package that mom put together.

After lunch she went back to Southern and my friend Wayne took some non-students on a nature hike through Table Rock State Park. I’m hoping to have some pictures of this little adventure tomorrow. We walked through God’s beautiful creation and saw many waterfalls even though its been dry here in the South.

A highlight of every FLAME is the Wednesday night communion service. Tonight was no exception. We sang a few songs as the Holy Spirit came and met with us. Wayne shared a devotional about listening to God’s still small voice. When it comes to worship, we are both organizers and want to make sure the details are worked out. Some of the details didn’t work out til late in the day as Wayne listened to God’s voice. During communion, I played and sang Communion by Third Day and then spontaneously led in a few more worship songs as we finished up communion. The highlight of that was singing I Love You, Lord accapella. We are worshiping in a half gym with lots of hard walls, but it made it sound beautiful, especially as we sang the song with all the harmony. It was gorgeous.

The last highlight is went pastors, FLAME alumni and professors pray with the students for the students. It always makes me a little emotional and tonight was no exception. It was cool.

And that about wraps it up from the FLAME News Network (a little inside joke courtesy of Wayne.)

Prayer is an integral part of the FLAME philsophy of ministry. Here are some students praying over each other
Academics also play a large part of the FLAME philosophy, but there are breaks in the action as you can tell by the smiles in Church Leadership and Management
I had the chance to see my daughter for the first time in three months. She caught a ride up to Table Rock and we spent the morning together through lunch. She has grown up to be quite a young Christian lady and I am proud of her. She’s currently studying at Southern Wesleyan University about 30 miles to our south.
Worship and music plays a big part of the FLAME chapel and communion services. I’m ripping through a couple of hot licks during Trading My Sorrows.
Fellowship around the table at breaks and meals provides a chance for students and professors and staff to encourage one another
Here’s more of that fellowship time.
Last year FLAME students took it upon themselves to raise money for some of our mssionary works. Here we hear words of thanks for what God did with those finances.