Daily Affirmation: Psalm 63:3-4

Being loved changes everything. When I embrace the steadfast and unfailing love God has for me–His love changes me and opens my eyes to an unseen world all around me covered with His fingerprints.

The Psalmist wrote:

Because your steadfast love is better than life,
    my lips will praise you. (Psalm 63:3 ESV)

Life without love barely resembles life at all. Life without love boils down to nothing more than heartbeats and nerve synapses firing without meaning or purpose. This morning embrace the steadfast, unfailing love God has for us. Run toward His embrace.

Today, we embrace His love for us. We gaze upon the nail prints which tell the story. We choose to find life alone in His unfailing love and not in the temporal and tantalizing temptations luring us to unfaithful lovers who only use and toss aside. We confess His love gives life its meaning and purpose so praise naturally and fully pours from our lips out of the overflow of souls deeply satisfied.




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Daily Affirmation: Psalm 119:11

One of the first Bible verses I ever memorized was Psalm 119:11 which reads:

Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

This simple yet profound verse captured my imagination even as a child, and inspires me to continue to hid or store the Word of God deep in the recessive of my mind, heart, and soul. Memorized verses can serve like “white blood” cells in the body ready to fight of the infections that can so quick poison our spiritual lives. Quite often a scripture I hid in my heart pops into my mind at just the right time to save the day or at least to warn me to make the right choose in a time of testing and temptation.

Today, activate the verses hidden in your heart by faith and seeking the filling of the Holy Spirit who makes the Word of God come alive.

We can overcome the sin crouching at the door of our hearts by relying on His Word planted deep in our hearts and minds.

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Daily Affirmation: Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

As Solomon concludes his rambling thoughts about the meaning and purpose of life which he had gathered along his journey. He observes and declares:

The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.—Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

At the end of the day, life turns out to be far less complicated and complex as one might suspect. He challenges his readers to simply: “Fear God and keep his commandments…for this is the whole duty of man.”

When one lives in awe and fear of the Lord of the heavens, his or her life takes on a healthy perspective on life with all its twists and turns. When one fears and trusts the Lord obedience flows naturally like a child following the instruction of a loving parent. One obeys because God’s love creates the very atmosphere of life and loving God becomes as natural as breathe.

Today I choose to fear the Lord and live in the magnificent awe of His presence and power. I choose to obey His directives knowing His will for my life will lead me down the narrow path to life in a world of countless detours leading nowhere.

Don’t complicate it too much today. “Fear God and keep his commands…”





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The Gasp

I never wanted to be labeled a hypochondriac. You know the kind of person who always seems to be complaining about this ache and this pain. However, over the past forty days I found myself seeking medical attention and missing work with strange physical symptoms and fevers too often.

I diagnose and treat my own ailments, and for the most part I have been relatively successful in my medical career even though I have the wrong kind of doctorate to practice medicine.

However, a few days ago, I found myself driving to the ER after prayer meeting. Over the past thirty days after a long road trip to Brownwood and back, I had not felt good. I thought I had a touch of pneumonia or acute bronchitis, but when I checked into the urgent care clinic the doctor on duty ruled my condition to be a urinary tract infection and put me on a round of antibiotics.

Over the course of the next week, I felt somewhat better and the severe back and shoulder pain related to deep breathes subsided, and it appeared all was well, except the fact when I exercised I continued to have shortness of breath and an accelerated heart beat. So after a couple of weeks of not feeling right, I went to my primary care doctor and she determined I may have a case of congestion and the onset of allergies, so she treated me in line with her assumptions, but I still did not feel right. So I consulted with a doctor friend whose persuasion may have saved my life.

When I arrived at the ER, I must confess I felt a bit dumb. I had no fever, no shortness of breath unless I was running, and only a dry cough, but I decided to trust my friend and rule out any serious complications. Upon arrival, I waited– which is why you are called a patient in a hospital, because you will need patience to be a patient! When I made it back to the examining room and Robyn arrived, a series of tests and blood work ensued. (By the way, I now have nightmares of smiling lab attendants bearing needles seeking my blood!) All the tests, and x-rays appeared normal confirming my feeling I was wasting time and money until I had a scan of my lungs. Robyn and the technician took me to radiology and I laid flat on the machine awaiting a shot of dye in my IV to expose any possible problems.

Since x-rays were to be used, Robyn joined the technician in his office to watch the results on the screen. According to protocol he assured her he could not reveal the findings of the tests but she would watch and make her own assessment. Momentarily, he informed me he was shooting the dye into my veins and I should expect a warm sensation. Just as the dye entered my lungs he gasped and said, “Oh my… his lungs are full of clots!” Quickly blood drained from Robyn’s face and when I saw her I knew instinctively something was terribly wrong.

Needless to say, I did not get to go home that night with the satisfaction of having been right, I spent the next couple of days in the hospital receiving treatments for pulmonary embolisms and giving blood to the vampires in the night.

It all hit me about three o’clock in the morning when I did a Google search on my iphone to read about my diagnosis only to discover that nearly 20% of those with this condition DIE! No wonder the doctors, nurses, and technicians marveled that I was still alive, but I was in good hands all along…not mine, but HIS—His nail-scarred hands.

Yes, this Thanksgiving I have much to be thankful for. This year I will head the list with life…simply being alive. Sadly, too often I take life and health for granted. The Psalmist declared: “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases…” (Psalm 103:2-3).  What are you thankful for this year?

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First Day of School

Slow down in the school zones. Watch out for minivans driven by smiling mothers ecstatic about the first day of school. Keep an eye out for packs of elementary school boys running between cards decked out with new tennis shoes and backpacks. By all means don’t forget the teachers walking toward the schools fixated on the calendars of their smart phones thinking to themselves, “Where did the summer go?!”

Somewhere in America, you could have probably overheard the following conversation. Mom shouts upstairs saying, “Son, it’s time to go to school.” A muffled voice from underneath the pillow replies, “I don’t want to go to school.” Undeterred Mom shouts back, “You have to go to school. Give me two reasons why you don’t want to go to school today.” After a brief pause a voice replies, “The students don’t like me and the teachers don’t like me. Give me two reasons why I should go to school.” Mom scratches her head and shouts, “You are fifty-two years old, and you are the principal!”

If you haven’t thanked God for the principals, teachers, counselors, administrative assistants, music teachers and coaches on the front lines for our children this week. Stop now and thank the Lord for their hard work and sacrifice.

For the Lowrie clan this has been an historic week, my baby girl Madison texted me a picture of her arm in arm with three coeds at Dallas Baptist University with the headline “My last first day of school.” The Lord willing, Madison will graduate from college in December with her B.A. in Psychology. Her graduation will be a thrill to her mom and my accountant.

On the same day, my daughter Jamie started her first day of school as a first grade teacher. I don’t know who was more scared, the children or the teacher. By the way, Jamie came down with a sore throat and cold before the end of her first week…welcome to the world of little children and germs!

As I reflected this week on my educational adventures, I came across the following quotes on education that made me smile. For instance:

Ray LeBlond observed: “You learn something new every day….if you pay attention.”

Or Albert Einstein, one of the most brilliant men who ever lived who also was slow to talk and failed his first university entrance exam noted:

“Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.”

 As an adjunct Christian studies professor for Howard Payne and a Baptist preacher, I must confess I resonate with the observation of W.H. Auden who wrote:

“A professor is someone who talks in someone else’s sleep.”

 You may or may not be aware that one of the great forces behind education for the masses has been the Christian church. Many of the great universities of our land like Princeton and Harvard were founded by devout Christians to train pastors and generations of Christian world leaders. Early believers after the invention of the printing press taught children to read so they could read the Bible and come to a personal relationship with God in the sacred space of their own bedrooms.

As followers of Jesus let me encourage you to be champions of education and lifelong learning.  Solomon wrote to his son the following admonition:

“Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life.” (Proverbs 4:13 ESV)

As we close out the first week of school whisper a prayer for the teachers and students of our fair city. Pray this school year will be one of great learning and adventure…and yes, prayer because as the saying goes, “As long as there are tests, there will be prayer in schools!”

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I Do

This week as I struggled to go to sleep at night I kept hearing wedding bells. You may ask how did I know they were wedding bells…they sounded just like all my money being drained out of my bank account! Yes, the bells sound like the old cash register bells for those of us who carry AARP cards.

This year I gave up reading scary statistics especially after I read the average wedding in America last year cost $29,858. (Just in case you are wondering…no, we will not be spending that much money on Jamie’s wedding…if I can help it…and yes, you are going to get the Baptist special at the reception…cake and peanuts).

On a more serious note, I am having a hard time believing my little girl Jamie Leigh is all grown up and getting married. I am having an even harder time realizing she is marrying Jordan Villanueva…a young man I helped hire to be an intern at our church. If I had known what was going to happen when I met him…I would have interrogated him hooked up to a lie-detector, but you have to hand it to him. He loved Jamie enough to risk his job and his life to date her!

I must confess I have officiated at least one hundred weddings over the years, and weddings still scare me just a bit. Everyone shows up at the ceremony excited and nervous. The bride has dreamed of her perfect wedding since she was a little girl reading fairy tales. But what really scares me is the mother of the bride, and this time I am married to her!

Many years ago, Groucho Marx quipped: “I was married by a judge…I should have asked for a jury!” After the wedding Jordan may feel the same.

Jamie and Jordan have decided to write the own vows. I think that is so romantic. I can hardly wait to hear their vows of love to each other, but to be frank I had been working on a special set of vows for Jordan. After thirty-three years of marriage and twenty-five years of protecting little Jamie from boys, I had a few things I wanted to say to him.

Shortly after I became the father of girls, I considered joining the D.A.D.D.—“Dads against Daughters Dating.” I loved their slogan. “Shoot the first one and the word will spread.” However, since I do not own a gun, I decided that black leather King James Version Bible would be my sword of choice!

So back to Jordan’s vows, as I reflected on them I remember the only advice my father-in-law gave me when Robyn and I got married. He looked me deep in the eyes peering into my trembling soul and said, “David, just don’t ever buy a black and white television set without talking to your wife.” You know what? I never have– his advice continues to be priceless.

So what would I ask of Jordan. I want him to love her with all his heart. I want him to realize his responsibility will never be to fully understand her, but to love and cherish her all the days of his life. I want him to fall in love with her over and over again. I want him to put her needs above his.

I want him to keep lighting up her face like he does now. I want him to keep on sharing his heart and life with her and talking to her long into the night while listening closely to her dreams and fears. I just want him to keep on loving her like he did to capture her heart. Obviously I may be asking just a bit too much, but don’t forget Jordan will have help from above.  Jesus is the greatest “love doctor” of all.

A number of years ago, YouTube captured a father of the bride giving his final word of advice to the groom right before the ceremony. He spoke of how time and time again God had answered his prayers for his little girl. I loved and identify with his closing remarks. He said, “Me and God’s worked hard—so don’t screw it up!”  See you Saturday at the church at 2:00 p.m. Do you hear the bells too!

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Sounds of Heaven

Do you think there will electric harps and drums in heaven? For centuries one of the classic views of life in heaven sadly revolved around sitting on clouds and playing harps. (If asked I would prefer playing golf…like Jordan Spieth if possible).

This classic idea of harps in heaven can be traced back to Revelation 14 when John witnessed the 144,000. He reported what he saw as follows: “ And I heard a voice from heaven like the roar of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder. The voice I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps,  and they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders.” (Revelation 14:2-3 ESV)

John Bunyan captured this idea and portrayed Christian and Hopeful entering the Heavenly City and greeted with harps and crowns in his classic allegory Pilgrim’s Progress.

“Practicing heaven on earth” remains as one of my favorite mottos when I speak of the life and mission of our church. Much of the time when I think in these terms, I think about the wonderful diversity of life within our family. Just as in heaven every nation, language, and tongue will gather around the throne. When our church family gathers we increasingly reflect the glory of heaven in the faces of our people. A few weeks ago on International Sunday, we had over eighty (80) people stand acknowledging their births in other homelands like Mexico, China, Kenya, Japan, Korea,  Taiwan, Columbia, Lebanon, and Arkansas! (I was just kidding about Arkansas—sooie pig).

Let’s be honest, we may not all be playing harps or singing in a heavenly choir, but I cannot imagine heaven without music. Will you dream with me about the glorious sounds and harmonies that will resound in glory? That being said, there have been moments when I have felt caught up to glory but never during a sermon. It has always been through music. I can close my eyes right now and feel the music washing over my heart and soul like a wave of ecstatic joy.

If we seriously intent to “practice heaven on earth” we need to pull out the hymnal, the guitar, the piano and yes, the organ and sing—or at least make a joyful noise.

Over the past ten years, Jim Cleaveland has invited us week in and week out into the throne room of God through worship and music. God has used him to pull back the veil, and to usher in the glory of God among us. As you know, Jim will be retiring August 9 of this year, so our Personnel Committee began a search to find the one uniquely gifted to take on this mantle.

This Sunday morning, Elvin Porflit will be coming in view of a call to be our new minister of worship and media. Many of you may already know and love Elvin, Julie and their children since they have been part of our family for years. Elvin accepted our invitation to be considered after seventeen years as the choral director of Jefferson High School where he has led some of the most outstanding choirs in our region. In addition, Elvin has had the opportunity to lead worship and participate in many of the great congregations of our city like Del Sol and Coronado Baptist Church.

As I stand back I marvel at the process, it has amazed me how God uniquely prepared Elvin to step into this role of leadership having served under Ron Bowles and Jim Cleaveland and grown up among us. He knows and loves our church. He knows and loves our city.

We will be hosting a time of questions and answers with Elvin and Julie on Saturday at 2:00 p.m. in the Wolf Conference Center, and we will be voting on his call at the end of each of our morning services. I hope you will join us as we “practice heaven on earth” and sing until heaven comes down!

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