Decisions, Decisions

Do you ever have a hard time making a decision? How long does it take you in the morning to pick out what clothes you are going to wear? I heard of a man who wanted to simplify his life, so he decided to only wear black suits, with a starched white dress shirt, complimented by a solid black tie, set off by as you might expect polished black dress shoes and black socks. I guess you could say he liked his decisions to be black and white!

Of course, most decisions in life even the simple ones force us to wrestle with various shades of gray. Very few decisions in life are cut and dry, most confront you with too many choices and options. This reality gives credence to Matz’s Maxium which simply states:

“A conclusion is the place you get tired of thinking.”

For many people one of the issues that compound their inability to make decisions, especially the significant ones in life resides in the stark reality they don’t know what they want or where they are going in life.

Lewis Carroll captured so vividly this dilemma in his classic story “Alice in Wonderland.”  You may remember the pivotal point in the story when Alice bumps into the Cheshire Cats at a fork in the road and inquires: “Would you please tell me which way I should go from here?”

The inquisitive cat asked: “That depends a great deal on where you want to get to…”

Surprisingly Alice replied: “I don’t much care…”

To which the wise cat answered: “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”

Far too many people wander aimlessly through life not knowing where they are going, and end up right where they intended to go…they end up nowhere.

Steven Covey, in his classic leadership book Seven Habits for Highly Effective People noted that effective people learn early on the importance of “beginning with the end in mind.”

The call of Jesus on his earliest followers revolved around an invitation to join him on the great adventure of life. He simply said, “Come, follow me….” The simple truth remains, Jesus still calls us to follow him through all the twists and turns of life.

Paul described this reality to his friends in Philippi this way: “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12b-13 ESV)

Paul realized God himself enables us to make wise choices at the crossroads of our lives by working in us “to will (to decide) and to work (to do) for his good pleasure.” Simply put, if you want to know what God wants you to do…listen close to the whisper of the Holy Spirit…and step out in faith.

Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit movement, taught his early disciples to nurture what he called a “holy indifference” to decisions. He challenged them to lay aside their own personal agendas, desires, and dreams, and to yield completely to the voice of God resonating deep in their hearts and souls.

Ignatius captured well the invitation of Jesus when he called out: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.”

If you stand at a crossroads in your journey today, give up control for once, and choose to follow Jesus wherever He leads, and let the adventure of faith begin…I promise you will enjoy the journey, besides you will be traveling in great company!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

My Parisian Journey: I have seen… Le Notre Dame de Paris

David Lowrie:

A Journey shared

Originally posted on My French Quest:

 

Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France

Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France

Notre Dame Cathedral

I have seen a place of worship saved from the ravages of ignorance rebellion, arrogant and wicked in the face of the Crucified One.

A cathedral which took generation after generation of craftsmen to erect in its grandeur

which was nearly destroyed by one lost generation

blinded by bitter rejection of the shadows of religion against the tears of a Heavenly Father.

As the tourists parade around the sacred “thin place” in the heart of Paris,

a handful of the faithful seek to connect with a force greater and more pure than one can conceive or imagine.

A love stretched out from station to station overlooked or misunderstood

by a world loved, but lost by rejecting faith and mystery which

strangely brings all things into focus.

(In September, David and I returned to Paris for a week of vacation.  In the…

View original 21 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Child in Me

The sentry at the door must have fallen asleep, because on Monday morning I turned around and realized our church facilities had been invaded by a band of little human beings with small hands, small feet, short arms, big smiles, quick tears, hungry minds and open hearts. At first the sensation overwhelmed your senses especially your hearing, but once you realized the little ones meant you no harm their joy was contagious.

If you have not read between the lines yet, I am describing a week of Vacation Bible School at your local neighborhood church. For decades VBS has breathed life into churches old and young, big and small, because children have a God-given ability to bring back wonder and mystery into old dusty places in our hearts and minds. That is why I believe Jesus loved to hang out with children, and children always seemed to be nearby offering their sack lunches, crawling up in his arms, or responding to his healing touch.

One day Jesus’ band of followers quizzed him with what they considered a deep theological question. Sensing a bit of their own superiority and begging for a complement from their Master they asked:

“Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

I can see them sitting back waiting for the applause of heaven because of their courageous wisdom in choosing to follow Jesus at all cost, Jesus surprised them. To their shock and amazement instead of calling one of their number to his side, he motioned for a child—a young boy—to stand sheepishly in their midst.

Looking deep into their hearts and souls Jesus uttered the most stunning words saying: “Truly I say to you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never the Kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3 NIV)

Don’t miss the obvious point, Jesus warned them about their assumptions of greatness when they were in danger of missing heaven altogether. True greatness starts by simply getting into the Kingdom first, and entrance starts with taking on the trust and innocent devotion of children.

This week I have enjoyed a crash course in the joys and wonders of the Kingdom of God in the faces of children. Children, big and small, share an incredible openness to the Spirit of God. They embrace wonder and mystery with innocent abandonment.

Let me share a couple of glimpses of this abandonment to God. Marsha, who led them in worship which consisted in a wonderful blend of aerobics, joy, singing and rhythmic choreography, shared with me that her heart swelled watching the children sing with all their hearts and souls. There was no looking around to see who was watching, they sang, moved, and experienced worship in the moment.

Fast forward, I am walking by a pew, and a little hand reaches out and grabs mine. I look down into bright eyes framed by little glasses. As she peered into my heart, she smiled and whispered, “I want to be baptized” with the innocent boldness of a child. I wish my “wanting” was so pure.

A frazzled teacher shared with me about her struggle to tame a herd of little boys. I reminded her little boys need a firm loving hand to guide them. You see children learn best with love wrapped in firm boundaries. In fact we all do. Jesus sees the child in all of us— so smile, sing, dance, and believe your way into His Kingdom.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under FBC El Paso, First Look

A Shoe Story: Buckner’s International Shoes for Orphan Souls

You would think the life of a running shoe would be boring and I must confess I have a few friends who have spent their lifetime stuffed away in the back of a closet under a pile of other shoes, but boy do I have a story to tell. I started out like most tennis shoes in a factory in China molded and sewn together by the nimble fingers of a Chinese craftsman who turns out dozens and dozens just like me day after day. Once the last stitch was in place and my shoe laces traced my smile and I found myself nestled in a box, I was off on a great adventure…at least I hoped so.

Like most running shoes I found myself soon aboard ship heading for the good old USA. I am a size 6 so I hoped and prayed I would find myself in New York City or Los Angeles on the growing foot of an aspiring athlete. I could envision endless games of soccer in lush grass or running through Central Park nestled under the skyscrapers of Manhattan.

Of course I had little to say about that, my main objective was to survive the nearly month at sea trying to avoid being seasick or lost overboard. Once we arrived in port just outside of Houston, Texas, I realized quickly I was going to need to get used to the heat and humidity. I had heard horror stories about the impact of heat and sweat on socks and shoes.

I waited in a warehouse for what seem like eternity until I was loaded on a truck and shipped to the border of Texas and Mexico to a city called El Paso. Being from China I knew little about living on the border, but when I was placed on the shelf for display I smiled at every little boy who passed by hoping he would choose me to be his own, and that we could share the adventure together.

My wait was longer than I expected until a big red sale sticker was placed on my box. I must confess I was a bit embarrassed to consider myself a “sale item.” To make matters worse, instead of a young boy trying me on and picking me out. I found myself dropped in a shopping cart by an old man. He had to be in his 50’s. I knew immediately I was not his size, and besides he must have bought at least five or six pairs of shoes.

The sales clerk rang me up. Soon I was loaded me in a big bag. On the drive I hoped the old man had a grandson, but sadly when we arrived in the house there were no children there, just a couple of dogs who looked longingly at me.

The old man ripped me out of the comfort of my box. Tied my laces together, and put me back into the sales bag. I waited in limbo for a couple of days along with several other pairs of shoes, and we were all confused at the prospects of our future.

On Sunday, the old man loaded us and took us to church of all places. I heard about being “saved” but this was a bit strange for a shoe from China. To our surprise, the old man placed us in a corral at the end of a great hall under a big sign reading “Shoes for Orphan Souls.” I thought to myself, what in the world does that mean and where in the world am I going.

A few days later I was lovingly placed in a box with dozens and dozens of other shoes and we took off by truck to Dallas. I arrived at a warehouse with Buckner’s on the outside. From there I took my first flight. Yes, I flew by jet to Africa landing in Nairobi. We were driven to an orphanage filled with little bare-foot boys and girls. A volunteer took me out of the box and knelt down in front of a little six year boy who had just slipped on a new pair of socks. Then with a big smile on my face, the volunteer slipped me onto his little foot. I was the first pair of shoes he had ever worn. We ran, jumped, and danced together. We went everywhere together. We went to school, and to church. I need not worry about being lost in a closet. We are inseparable.

Who would have known a running shoe could change someone’s life! Don’t forget to bring tennis shoes for our “Shoes for Orphan Souls” drive. Boys and girls around the world are counting on us.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Dr. Paige Patterson’s Apology to the Southern Baptist Convention in Baltimore

Rarely in a large convention gathering to you witness a man humble himself and ask for forgiveness. Too often we hid our need for grace on the platform and seek to “put the best face forward” under any and all circumstances. Dr. Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, found himself in need of grace and asked for it from his brothers and sisters in Christ.

Dr. Patterson made an executive decision to admit a practicing Muslim into the PhD program of SWBTS in the discipline of archaeology. By this own confession, Patterson has deep feeling for this young Muslim scholar who wanted to assist in some archaeological digs in the Holy Land and also study under the scholars at this Baptist seminary.

The standards for entering a Southern Baptist Seminary are quite high and rigid. Much like a military academy the students are expected to be the best of the best. To a man and the occasional woman, each student must profess faith in Christ, a calling to ministry, and adherence to the principles and values of the faith. Clearly Muslim student cannot meet any of these qualities. This is where the rub begins and ends.

Dr. Patterson confessed he opened the door to the young student for his future education and for the opportunity for him to come under the influence of Christian scholarship and faith. Much like St. Patrick of old who invited pagans into the circle of Christians long before declarations of faith, Patterson hoped and believed this young Muslim man would turn and choose to follow Jesus. So he violated the time honored rules he had fought to establish in defense against the creeping liberalism of our day to admit this man in hopes of his coming to Christ. He confessed his heart for the “lost” inspired and moved his decision.

Clearly one can stand on either side of the argument, and feel a sense of justification. However, sadly leaders don’t often have the option of standing on both sides. Decisions must be made. Prayers for guidance heeded. Courageous action dictates decisions. Patterson made a bold courageous move. I for one, affirm him in  his decision. I have great confidence in the power of the light of the gospel, and I fear not the influence of a Muslim in the halls of SWBTS. By his own confession, Patterson sought to open the door to a seeker on a quest for knowledge. Does it not seem odd that a devout Muslim would choose to study openly among infidels. By this principle alone it appears we see the fingers prints of the Holy Spirit of God at work. This “wind” I believe moved Patterson to action.

Were his actions right or wrong? It appears the answer is yes. He violated the standards of admission into the seminary, and he erred on the side of the gospel and grace. The board of trustees will deal with him and I trust they will deal with him fairly. I hope the young Muslim will be allowed to continue his quest. In the end, ultimately Patterson stands before His Lord Jesus who metes justice with nail-scarred hands. For those of us in the stands, we watching from a distance, we would be wise to pray, and to be slow to judge.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Heroes

Growing up as a typical boy I must confess I had my share of heroes. Of course many of them emerged from the world of sports like Baltimore Oriole Brook Robinson with his golden glove, and Jerry West of the LA Lakers with his sweet jump shoot, and Dallas Cowboy fullback Walt Garrison with his grit and determination.

 
Like most boys of my era I was drawn to the heroes of the black and white television in the living room or on the silver screen like the Lone Ranger, the Rifle-man, Daniel Boone, and my favorite, Sheriff Andy Taylor, who could keep Mayberry safe and secure with wit and wisdom and no need for a firearm on his hip. Needless to say these were actually imaginary heroes. I could look up to them, and immulate them but it was not likely I was ever going to become a foot-ball star or crime fighter.

 
No, my real hero, the one I knew better than any other was my dad. Like almost every child I know, my dad started out as my hero and remains my hero to this day. The truth is dads have the corner on the market for being heroes in the eyes of their children. It is a place God gives us at birth without earning it. In fact, it is ours to keep until we prove time and time again we cannot carry the burden of being looked up to by our children.

 
I fear we underestimate the significance and importance of fathers in the lives of children both young and old. When there is a dad in the house, children are less likely to drop out of school, get in trouble, end up in poverty or worse, in prison. Little girls wait for the right man and don’t give themselves to the wrong boys who would use them and toss them aside and little boys grow up to be responsible, hard-working and trustworthy.

 
Put a dad in a house, and God has a good chance at living in the hearts of his children and mom does not have to take on the role of Wonder Woman. Yes, a dad in the house can make all the difference in the world.

 
In my case, my dad had all the qualities of being a hero but not because he was the best preacher I ever heard, nor because he was respected and admired in circles far and wide. No, my dad was my hero because of how he loved me and my brothers. His in-vestment in my life followed by his consistency at church and at home.

 
One of my fondest memories was as an older teenager hiking up Lowrie mountain deep in the back woods of the Smoky Mountains in East Tennessee and looking at the rumble of my dad’s childhood home, that was none other than a log cabin with no electricity or running water. Yes, my dad actually was born in a log cabin on the side of a mountain. Needless to say, we had very little opportunity to complain about the trials and tribulations of suburban life !
The writer of Proverbs got it right when he observed :
Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the glory of children is their fathers. (Proverbs 17 :6 ESV)

Father’s Day waits just over the horizon, so to the dads out there—THANK YOU—you really are heroes in your own way. I cannot imagine where we would be today without your strong steady influence for good. Keep up the good work. We need you.

Leave a comment

Filed under FBC El Paso, First Look

Sixty and Still Counting!

In 1954, a young man who grew up in the backwoods of the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee made his way to Carson Newman College. He traveled light with just enough money in his pocket to pay his tuition and carrying a suitcase which held a few items including two white shirts and a tie for class—one of the shirts borrowed from his grandfather.

 Little did he know this short journey from his home in the mountains to Jefferson City would eventually lead to the plains of West Texas and practically around the world preaching the Word of God. There in a rented room near the campus of Carson Newman, he gave into a longing deep in his heart and soul. He gladly surrendered his life to the gospel ministry, and at the ripe old age of eighteen accepted the call to be the pastor of the Biltmore Baptist Church in Elizabethan, Tennessee.

 Most eighteen year olds can barely tell the difference between up and down, even though they believe themselves to experts in life. At eighteen being a pastor of a local church, even a small one, can be a heady experience. How can a “kid” lead men and women in their walk with God? Even though Paul encouraged Timothy, his son in the faith, to not allow people to look down on him because he was young, being a pastor as a teenager will soon put one’s character to the test.

 In the cauldron of the pressures of ministry this young pastor started out preaching the best sermons he could find off the desks and out of the pulpits of other preachers. But he knew deep inside that this practice robbed him and his people of the “Word from on High” needed for life and fruitfulness. He also came to the realization that he needed a power within that could only come from on high.

 So this teenage preacher dropped out of school for a semester and enrolled in Jesus’ school of servant leadership, and yearned for the Holy Spirit of God to unlock the mystery and wonder of the Holy Scriptures. From sun up to sundown, he devoured the Word of God as the “bread of life” and during a matter of months a “preacher boy” began his journey toward becoming a “man of God.”

 Soon the little mountain church began to grow as people feasted on the Word of God delivered from the pulpit by the pastor who grew up right before their eyes. This humble beginning led to further studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, and it was there in those days God burned the state of Texas on his heart and soul.

 Over the course of the next fifty years, he served Oak Ridge Baptist Church in Weatherford. The call of God moved him to First Baptist Church of Lorenzo and Calvary Baptist Church in Lubbock, where he fell in love with the people of High Plains. God took him east to North Fort Worth Baptist Church in Fort Worth where he preached to a generation of young preachers who learned as much about expository preaching sitting at his feet as in class in seminary. After ten years, God prepared him for citywide leadership by calling him to First Baptist Church of Texarkana which led to the call to the historic First Baptist Church of Lubbock, the great love of his life. He served this great church on two occasions for a total of seventeen years. 

 God also included in this journey stints as a state wide leader as president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas and Executive Director of the Tennessee Baptist Convention.

 This month sixty years ago my father Dr. D.L. Lowrie began this journey by faith. Like the Apostle Paul, he “poured out his life like a drink offering to God” and his sacrifice has made our world a much better and richer place. My life and ministry has been shared by the privilege of following such a great light into the darkness. So how does one make sixty years in ministry—simple—love God and love His people with all your heart. Praise God the journey continues!

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized