"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

A Promise about Kingdom Giving Worth Pondering

“Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.” (Mark 10:29-30)

When Jesus speaks of time, it’s usually with the language of “this present age” and “the age to come,” or “this present age” and “in the resurrection” (see Luke 20:34-35). 

The resurrection, the central tenet of Christian faith, separates “this present age” from “the age to come.” 

In this present age, when you and I are willing to give up assets, family, and income - for Christ’s sake and the gospel’s sake - He promises that we will receive a hundred times as much assets, family and income in this present age.  

I do not believe I have ever noticed this promise before. Typically, I have thought (and taught) that what a person gives in this age may only redound in blessing in the age to come. 

That’s not what Jesus says. 

Jesus promises that whatever you give in this age for the Kingdom will come back to you 100 fold in this age. Lest you think He’s thinking that what comes back your way is a “spiritual” blessing and not a “material” blessing, Jesus repeats the exact same nouns - houses, family, farms - in the 100 fold blessings you receive. 

Those who read my writings know that I have little sympathy for what is commonly known as the prosperity gospel and no patience for prosperity preachers. Their problem is the desire to “get rich” on the backs of the poor. Jesus condemns religious leaders who want riches for riches sake. 

However, I am a biblicist.  I believe what Jesus says.  So I am not going to throw out the proverbial baby with the bath water. 

Next time you feel impressed to give something for the Kingdom’s sake (to a person, a ministry, a church, etc.) consider this promise from Jesus. Give. Don’t worry about having enough to live. Give for the Kingdom and He’ll give you 100 fold in return.  

In other words, don’t worry about material or familial blessings “in this age.” Seek first His Kingdom and all these other things (home, family, income, etc...) are given to you by Him who promised a 100 fold blessing. Consider the lilies of the field, they neither toil nor worry, yet they are clothed in splendor more than Solomon was in his day. How much more does Jesus care for you.

Give to the Kingdom in this age and worry not about a thing in this age. 

He’s got your back.

Even in the persecutions that come your way for His sake. 

The Tube of Time and Eternity Outside the Tube

We are creatures of time.

We plan for the future, reflect on the past, and live in the present.

But what if time is created by the Creator and exists for only a season? What if there is a "beginning" to time and an "ending" to time? What if one could live "outside of time" (eternity) and from eternity actually enter the tube of time at different places at the will of the Creator?

Sound ridiculous?

It may not be as wild a thought as one might initially think.

A scientist named Albert Einstein (1879-1955) thought about time, space, and eternity entirely different than others before him. All except for Spirit-inspired biblical writers (as we shall see).

Albert Einstein wasn't as big a genius as many believe. But Einstein had a very curious mind. He thought about things that others rarely considered. Einstein took time to imagine. And, most importantly, Einstein wasn't afraid to think differently about things that others firmly believed.

As an example,  Einstein began imagining a person flying in space at the speed of light (e.g. Superman). Einstein asked himself a question:
"If a man flew at the speed of light with his arm fully outstretched and his hand holding a mirror in front of his face, would the flying person be able to see himself in the mirror?"
Strange question? Not to Einstein's curious mind. It was a difficult question to answer because the hypothetical flying man would be flying at the speed of light. So what about the speed of the light traveling from the man's eye to the mirror and back? How does the man's flying speed alter the speed of the light bouncing between the man's pupil and the mirror? Would the flying man be able to see himself flying?

For a decade (1895-1905), Einstein imagined possible answers to his hypothetical question. Again, Einstein imagined the answers. He used his mind, not his laboratory. Or maybe even better, his mind became his laboratory.

Einstein thought through whether the man would be able to see anything since he was flying at the speed the light, the same speed as the light traveling from the man's pupil to the mirror. He also considered whether the man's flying speed change the speed of light coming toward his eye from the mirror and distort the image? Einstein then pondered whether the man would see his face bigger or smaller than it actually was. Einstein also reflected in his mind what observers on the ground would see or not see looking at the flying man at the speed of light.

A Famous Formula

After a decade of thought, Einstein concluded that the speed of light was constant. In other words,  Einstein speculated that light never changed speed, regardless of the observer's movement toward or away from the source of light.  

So out popped Einstein famous formula E=mc² (energy equals mass times the constant speed of light
squared).

Up until Einstein's time, everyone thought that time and distance were constants, but the speed of light, like the speed of everything else in the universe, was variable. 

But Einstein was willing to think about the speed of light in ways different than everyone else. After making the assumption that the speed of light was constant, Einstein returned to the mathematical and electromagnetic equations that had already been worked out years before and plugged in the letter "C" (a constant) to represent the fixed speed of light (whatever it might be) and out came the formula E=mc².

Here is where it get's crazy.

IF the speed of light is constant, Einstein knew from math that time and distance had to be relative.

That means time and distance are not fixed. Hypothetically, someone would be able to advance in time or go back in time, as well as jump to long distances by folding time. That seemed crazy and unscientific, and actually, it was, because Einstein thought it rather than proved it.

Even so, in 1905, Einstein publicized his formula in a three-page paper entitled Does The Inertia Of A Body Depend On It's Energy Content?" The paper had no footnotes and not one single reference to support it.

The scientific establishment went nuts. Einstein, they said, was insane.

Twenty years later, when technology had advanced sufficiently for science to prove or disprove Einstein's theory of relativity, the science proved that Einstein's guess was correct.

The speed of light is constant.

Time and distance are relative.

I'll put this in another way that is consistent with the teaching of Scripture. People created by God in the universe are living in a tube of time that God created, with the Creator and His Kingdom both inside and outside this tube of time.
"And God said, "Light!" (Genesis 1:3). 
"I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End." (Revelation 22:13)
"Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God." (Psalm 90:2)
"Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality." (I Corinthians 15:51-52)
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16). 
Time is linear. But eternity is outside of time. Therefore, anything eternal must be thought about differently than how we think of time. Outside of time doesn't mean "at the end of time." Outside of time means "outside the tube of time."

An Illustration of the Tube of Time

Imagine a tube of your creation. Suppose you are the One outside that tube. You determine to allow two ants to crawl into one end of the tube. Then, since you are outside the tube, you may choose to seal both ends of the ant tube. Inside, the ants begin their linear journey to the other end of the tube. Along the way, the ants procreate and other ants are born. After a season, the first two ants die, but a colony of ants now exists in the tube. As far as the ants are concerned, nothing exists outside the dimension of their tube, but they hear stories in their ant language passed down from the first two ants who had seen the One outside the tube.  The One outside the tube (you) knows the beginning from the end (of the tube). The One outside the tube is from everlasting (from before the beginning of the tube) to everlasting (form long after the end of the tube), completely outside the tube of ant time.

That's an illustration of a tube of time.

In the tube of time known by man, God created time and placed those He created "in His image, male and female" (Genesis 5:1-2) inside time.

The Creator exists outside of time.

But in "the fullness of time," (as measured inside the tube, and according to God's plan), the Creator entered the tube of time, coming as Man, to communicate eternity with us (see Galatians 4:4-7).

Humans live and die in the tube of time.

But the Creator raises from death those who die in time.

Some raised from the dead by the power of God will be given immortal life and live in His Kingdom for eternity (outside of time). Others will be raised to judgment and will be sentenced to die a "second death" (Revelation 20:14) which the Bible calls eternal death, to separate this second death from the ordinary death that occurred in the tube of time (see II Thessalonians 1:7-9 and Romans 6:23).

From the perspective of the one who dies in the tube of time, the resurrection is immediate. But since the resurrection takes one "outside of time" (see I Corinthians 15 and Luke 20:27-40), the resurrection marks the beginning of the eternity, literally called "age upon age" (Hebrews 1:8). Life immortal after the resurrection is lived in a dimension with which we are unaccustomed.
When we’ve been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we first begun.
A Couple of Thoughts About Eternity

If resurrection to immortal life begins a life lived outside the tube of time, it might be interesting to consider a couple of questions:
1. Is it possible for those who've experienced the "ressurection to immortal life" to  live in the eternal Kingdom of Christ (heaven) outside of time but come back through a portal into the tube of time?
The Scriptures may give a "Yes" to that question.

Moses and Elijah appeared in time on the Mountain of Transfiguration (see Matthew 17) from their homes outside of time.

Certain Old Testament men and women of faith who'd been raised to immortal life at the general resurrection came back into the tube of time when Christ was raised from the dead (see Matthew 27:52).  Jesus is the Firstfruits of resurrection, and the general resurrection is "yet to come" - that is from our perspective "in time." However, the resurrection takes God's people "outside of time" - above the "tube of time" if you will. So it seems that God determined to confirm His Son's resurrection by allowing "saints of old" (Matthew 27:52) to enter time from their eternal homes to confirm Christ and His eternal Kingdom to the early disciples.

The Scriptures also teach that we are likely to entertain "messengers unawares" in this life (Hebrews 13:2).  These messengers from eternity can be angelic who come into our sphere of space-time as guardians and protectors to those who've been ordained to "eternal life" (Hebrews 1:14), but it is also possible that since the word translated "angels" is actually "messengers," God could send a message to this world from those "in the resurrection."

So it may be wise to consider this world as a multi-dimensional epoch movie with both script and orchestration written and conducted by the Creator. God knows the end from the beginning. And as the eternal and immortal Creator who exists both inside and outside the tube of His creation, He can send "in time" His people who've been gifted with immortality. The resurrection takes His people "outside of time." It could be possible that some might be allowed - at the discretion of their heavenly Father -  to go back in time into this world's events to accomplish His purposes for the glory of God and the good of His people in "the tube of time."

Sound crazy? Not if time and distance (space) are relative and Light is constant.
2. Is it possible that death is called "sleep" in the Scriptures because the resurrection is the fountainhead of the eternal?
We lean toward thinking of eternity linearly and have difficulty considering eternal things existing outside the tube of time. If the Creator and His Kingdom are immortal and eternal, it means that Christ's Kingdom is outside the tube of time.
"The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, and His Kingdom rules over all" (Psalm 103:19). 
Yet, for our sakes, He enters time. His Kingdom culminates for us (at least from our perspective) outside of time (e.g. "forever and ever") when He raises us from the dead and gives us eternal life. The Bible teaches that the resurrection is when  "man's last enemy (death) is destroyed" (I Corinthians 15:26).

We are told Jesus Christ "waits for His enemies to be made a footstool for His feet" (Hebrews 10:13).

"Waiting" is something that only occurs in the tube of time. Jesus conquered death in His resurrection. But before He ascended He said, "Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear My voice and come out - some to the resurrection of life and some to the resurrection of judgment" (John 5:28).

Jesus waits - in terms of the tube of time - for the general resurrection. He's the firstfruits. His people are the full harvest. The general resurrection is coming "in the tube of time."

But time is shattered at the general resurrection. All are raised by God to His Kingdom outside of time. Those in Christ are gifted with immortal life to live forever outside of the dimension of space and time as we know it. Those apart from Christ are sentenced at the judgment to an eternal death.

There are some practical implications of seeing the resurrection to immortal life as an event in "the tube of time" which inaugurates immortal life "outside of time" (John 5:28). 

One implication is how we think about "heaven" inside the tube of time.

Often we think of loved ones who are in heaven "now" (thinking as one in the tube of time). But if we all wait for the general resurrection, then when we think of heaven we must always consider ourselves with our loved ones outside the tube of time (in eternity). There's nothing wrong with thinking of your loved ones in eternity now - outside of time - but you must imagine yourself with them, for you are!

The resurrection is the transition from inside the tube of time into the eternal. From our perspective, it happens "in time," but from an eternal perspective, it is outside the tube of time.

Obviously, it is impossible to "prove" anything I've said in this post. I'm just thinking through and imagining - like Einstein did from 1895-1905.

God's Word is the science of eternity.

Because we are not yet experiencing life outside of time, our minds must become the laboratory until God takes us to the lab. 

Speaking Freely, Boldly, and Confidently of Jesus

If you've ever thought about telling others what Jesus has done for you or explaining to others what Jesus can do for them, you've probably felt inner hesitancy. "What will they think?" "Should I not say anything?"

Speaking freely, boldly, and confidently of Jesus is like lighting a fuse. What follows will always be transformative. Jesus either rebuilds the broken or crushes the proud.  If you want to make a difference in this world for the Kingdom, speak of Jesus freely.
Here's an example:
Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13)
Peter and John had been going throughout Jerusalem after Pentecost, speaking freely to the people, priests, Temple guards, and Sadducees who came up to them "greatly disturbed because they (Peter and John) were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead" (Acts 4:2). Jews were believing Peter and John's Good News about Jesus Christ because they were seeing miracles happen throughout the city, including Peter and John healing a 40-year-old lame man who'd been crippled from birth (Acts 3).  Peter and John were transformative people. They were changing lives through their proclamation of Jesus Christ.

The Jewish religious leaders had them arrested.
"By what power, or in what name, have you done this?”
 Peter stands before the Sanhedrin in defense of his and John's actions and declares:
"Rulers and elders of the people, if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by this name this man stands here before you in good health. Jesus is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the chief Corner Stone.  And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:8-12).
Read Peter's proclamation carefully again.

It's not politically correct. Though the messengers loved all people, their message was not embracing of all faiths. On the contrary, Peter and John declared an exclusive message. All other faiths but faith in Jesus will not deliver people from their broken condition; all other faiths but faith in Jesus will not bring people to right standing before the Creator; all other faiths but faith in Jesus will not lead to immortal life.
"By this name (Jesus) this man stands... Jesus is the stone rejected by you, but has become the chief Corner Stone...And there is salvation in no one else but Jesus; for there is no other name under heaven but the name of Jesus by which we must be saved." 
That's bold speech. That's free speech. That's confidence in the message.

And that is exactly what the Jewish religious said about Peter's proclamation of Jesus:
"Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13)
The word translated confidence in Acts 4:13 is the Greek word parrésia. This word - translated into English as freedom, boldness or confidence - means the power of freedom in speech. This Greek word refers to a speech or talk given with so much resolve, confidence, and freedom that the hearer remembers the message because the messenger's bold delivery makes the message memorable.

Could it be that what is missing in our Kingdom message is the parrĂ©sia that characterized the speeches of Peter and John?

When it comes to Jesus, don't worry about political correctness. Speak freely, boldly, and confidently. The Savior transforms by both the content of the message  (the Gospel) as well as the character of the messenger (boldness).

OU/OSU Bedlam Nothing Compared to Bethlehem


Rachelle and I are headed to the Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State football game in Stillwater, Oklahoma. This game has Heisman Trophy, Big 12 Championship, and even National Championship implications. Living in northwest Oklahoma, people are either avid Oklahoma fans or Oklahoma State fans, seldom both.

Oklahoma and Oklahoma State have played football every year since the late 1890’s. The series is called “Bedlam.”

Bedlam means "a scene of mad confusion.”

Bedlam definitely characterizes this football series. The word was first used to describe an OU/OSU football game exactly 100 years ago (1917). A reporter for the Daily Oklahoman wrote about the response in Stillwater to OSU’s surprising victory over OU in 1917:
"So surprised were students, faculty members and citizens when they first heard the 9 to 0 victory story from Oklahoma City that confirmation was necessary. Then bedlam broke loose. Nine long shrieks of the college power plant whistle told the score. Guns were fired. The antique, dust-covered bell in old Central building belfry chimed for the first time in years. Literally the town was painted white. On buildings, sidewalks, windows and other places, the score was painted. A huge figure nine and a tiny naught." - 1917 The Daily Oklahoman
Most people know what bedlam means, but few know the etymology (origin) of the word. 

Bedlam is the colloquial way English speaking people pronounced Bethlehem since the 10th century.  By A.D. 1418 even the spelling of Bethlehem became Bedlam among the English.

Yes, that’s right. Bedlam is actually the word Bethlehem. 

The place where Jesus the Messiah was born is the word used to describe the football series between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. 

But why does bedlam mean “a scene of mad confusion” or pandemonium or chaos?

Here’s why. 

The most famous insane asylum for 500 years was Saint Marys of Bethlehem in London, simply called “Bedlam” Hospital by the English. Again, Bedlam was the way Middle English folks (A.D. 500 - A.D. 1500) pronounced Bethlehem. Founded in A.D. 1247 as a priory, Bethlehem was first mentioned as a hospital in A.D. 1330 and became a lunatic hospital A.D. 1402.  Eventually Bethlehem (Bedlam) was converted to a civic lunatic asylum on dissolution of the monasteries in A.D. 1547. 

Everyone in the English speaking world knew Bedlam Hospital was a place of confusion. The word Bedlam eventually became synonymous for “a place of confusion, chaos or pandemonium.” 

And everyone knows the OU vs. OSU Bedlam football series means chaos and confusion as well.

I’m writing this before we leave for the game. When it’s all over, some Oklahomans will be disappointed and depressed, while others will be exuberant and excited. This game means so much to so many. 

But let me take a moment to remind us all that the real confusion in life comes from ignoring the One born in Bethlehem 2000 years ago. 

Football games and seasons come and go. 

The real bedlam comes from missing the significance of Bethlehem.


Spirit of the Living God, Ashton Davis, Enid, OK

This song, sung by Asthon Davis at Emmanuel Enid's REFUGE worship service on October 15, 2017, moved me when I heard it live, but its just as moving hearing it again on YouTube. Our church is blessed with some talented folks. Ashton is a senior at Enid High School and is called to lead out in worship for the Kingdom of Christ. ------

Wade and Katie McHargue Are Must Read Authors

Anytime I come across good books, I like to pass them on as recommendations to those who read this blog.

Wade and Katie McHargue are a couple who've been missionaries on the field, pastors in a local church setting, and all-around Kingdom people.

I recently read Katie McHargue's book Captured by Love: And Raising a Generation Captivated by God. Ladies, this book would be a superb read for your church, small group, or women's Bible study. Katie shows the importance of learning to rest in God's love and raising kids in an environment of love.

An Amazon reviewer had this to say about Katie's book:
I got the book today and couldn't put it down so I just finished it! God is so amazing and this is a story of an ordinary mom who chose to follow our Extraordinary God and many lives have been impacted including my own. I highly recommend this book. Its an easy read yet very powerful. Full of Scripture and Truth for everyday as well as testimony that will inspire and challenge!
Another reviewer said:
This book is valuable to any woman of any age, married or not, with children or not, young or old. If you want to love Jesus more, you will find inspiration in Katie's story. She has whetted my appetite for more of Him!
When I was with the SBC International Mission Board, Wade and Katie were missionaries in Africa. I became acquainted with them then, but have enjoyed seeing how God has used them in ministry now that they have returned to the states.

Wade McHargue has written a book entitled The Elijah Generation, where Wade challenges men who
are living in this age of "decadence, degradation, and despair" to take a good, hard, and honest look at our lives in light of the standard of God's word.

Wade challenges Christian men:
  1. To lose our lives for Jesus' sake, that we can truly find them. 
  2. To see, "What would happen if I gave myself completely over to God?"
  3. To offer all we can offer to Jesus for the praise of His glory as we live in light of eternity.
If you are looking for biblically solid, encouraging books from a husband and wife who live for Christ and His Kingdom, I encourage you to buy Captured by Love and The Elijah Generation

Thank you McHargues! You are a blessing to many!

Five Helpful Things to Remember As Parents Age

Bob Cleveland became my friend during a pretty dark period in my life (2005) when the denominational leadership of the religious denomination in which I minister (SBC) turned on me. Bob Cleveland stepped up and befriended me. He also defended the biblical principles I was articulating,  not just personally but publicly.

He and I could tell some pretty interesting stories about Hard Ball Religion.

That said, over the last decade, I've discovered Bob Cleveland to be a wonderful writer, a loveable logician, and an astounding apologist. Bob is a humble man, with some remarkable friendships. He has coffee with university Presidents, exchanges emails with shakers and movers, and shares a robust appreciation for the Kingdom of Christ and all  of Christ's Kingdom people. 

Bob was born in Chicago, Illinois on May 12, 1938. He lived in Calumet City, Illinois until the age of 15 when his family and he moved to Indianapolis, Indiana. He attended Thornton Fractional Township High School (T.F.T.H.S. - try that on the back of letter jackets!) and later attended Purdue University. Bob spent most of 50 years in the Property/Casualty Insurance industry and retired in February 2008. He is happily married to Peggy (March 13th, 1959), a four-time breast cancer survivor with a faith as strong as her husband's. The couple now makes their home in Birmingham, Alabama where they are members of First Baptist Church, Pelham. Bob has traveled to 36 countries, 45 states, and traversed through 116 airports, so he's a man of the world, but more importantly, he's a man belongs to the Christ's eternal Kingdom!
The other day Bob sent me an email that contained an anecdote about how Bob cared for his aging parents. I asked permission to post this because I believe it will be an encouragement to many who find themselves in the same situation. Pay particular attention to the five principles at the end of his email to me.  
My folks lived in a nice condo in Clearwater, FL, in 1985. They were in their mid-70's.
I traveled a lot then, and frequently had meetings in Orlando. I'd always schedule them to end on Thursday, and mom & dad would pick me up in the afternoon and I'd visit with them over the weekend, then fly back home. 
They'd been there some years, and were active in a local church, and with the County ARC. Chatting on Sunday afternoon, I asked dad what he'd do if mom died. After some conversation, he said he'd want to live close to family. 
I said "Well, that's Long Island (where my brother lived) or Birmingham (where I lived). He said he would not want to live in New York, so I said "So if mom dies first, you would want to move to Birmingham, right?" He said yes.
 Asked the same question of mom, and after she danced around it a little, she said the same thing. So I responded that, whoever died first, the survivor would move to Birmingham. And they agreed with that.
 I pointed out that, when one of them died, the survivor would not just lose their spouse of 55+ years, but they would also lose their church, their home, their friends, and there activities. So wouldn't it make sense to move now? Then they could have new friends, a new church, and new activities before one of them became a widow.
A week later, they called and said they'd been upset when I brought that up, because they knew I was right. So they had already listed their condo for sale and they'd be here a week later to find an apartment.
 I went out that week and found an apartment 5 minutes from here and 2 minutes from my office. The loved it and rented it the day I showed it to them.
4 years later, dad died (several interesting stories about that), and mom could not go back to the apartment. The lease was up, so she moved in here.

I was very plain with her. I told her to never ever do anything that would divide Peg and me. And I had to call her on it a few times, too. Things like saying "Don't tell Peg this, but ....". I always simply stopped her and told her never to say that to me. And when she said things like "I guess I'll just find another place to live" I would answer "Next time you say that, you're going to find your stuff at the curb."
We enjoyed her time here, and I think part of that was attributable to precise and understandable ground rules.
Gee. The same thing seems to have worked with our kids, too......
I was always frank about her driving, too (she had a fairly new Chrysler). And we'd discuss it when she'd have some kind of little mishap, like missing a turn-in to a parking lot and end up with a wheel in the ditch. I also told her that we'd be happy to take her anywhere she wanted to go, so one day she called me to her room and said "If I give you my driver's license, will you cut it up for me"? And together, we did.
One of the more rewarding things happened when she died. She was spending time in a nursing home after a broken hip. Peg was out of town in Indiana, and on July 4, 1997, when she got back, we went to visit mom. She said she had decided she was going to rejoice regardless of her circumstance, and welcome anything God allowed in her life (that was BIG).
4 hours later, about 1 a.m. on July 5, 1997, the phone rings and they told me mom had some kind of episode and they were taking her across the street to the local suburban hospital. I said we'd be right there ... about 30 minutes away.
As they were putting her in the ambulance, they told her "Bob's on his way", and she said "Oh, good!" And that's her last words ... she'd had an abdominal aneurysm, and died before they got to the hospital.
I learned a lot from that scenario.
1) Clear unambiguous rules work.
2) Nobody wants to talk about death, but God said it's appointed to us to die one day, so talk about it.
3) The important thing is to be there, and be available. 
 4) God doesn't show us things so we can sit down and be quiet.  Do something.
5) It's time to talk about this sort of stuff before it's time to take action. And so it goes..... 
You can read more of Bob's writings at his blog at Eagle's Rest

Living Life in Mrs. Pege Rogers' Neighborhood

Early Monday morning, October 23, 2017, just after the clock struck midnight, 55-year-old Pege Rogers suddenly and unexpectedly died of an embolism in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Over twenty years ago, Rachelle and I became friends with Pege and her husband Jeff. This young couple and their children had become members of Emmanuel Enid. For nearly 10 years we enjoyed fellowship with the Rogers prior to Jeff's business transferring him and his family to Colorado Springs.

The ups-and-downs of life, which are common to us all, were also part of the Rogers family when they were in Enid. The down times were particularly difficult during those early years, especially for Pege. She was open and transparent about her spiritual journey and her struggle with depression. We walked with Jeff and Pege through those shadow times, and like fog dissipating in a valley, God's grace shined through and Pege came out of her dark times stronger and more Kingdom-oriented than ever before. 

While living in Colorado Springs, Pege and Jeff have remained part of our church. Jeff became a biblical scholar par-excellence, teaching others the Scriptures deftly through his writings. Pege would watch our services online and she became a leading commentator on my blog posts. Sometimes I learned more from reading Pege's short observations about what I'd written than I did from my own research. 

Recently, Pege gave me permission to publish an email she wrote to me on the observations she made about her struggle with anger. Most people know that depression is stuffed anger, and the wisdom of Pege on this matter is invaluable. 

Pege wrote:
One thing my mother always said was "YOU MADE ME ANGRY!" I had a lot of power as a kid, didn't I? Both my mom and dad knew the words to lay on shame and guilt. I believed I was responsible for so much for my mother's or father’s bad behavior because of what I did or did not do to make them happy, I took responsibly for how others felt. I became very, very driven to how I behaved and performed. I became a “HUMAN_DOING, instead of a “HUMAN BEING”. Alas, I could never get it right for the standard changed like their emotions. I would always say, “I don’t want you to feel,” or “I don’t want you to think,” or “I don’t want you to believe.”
I was married for about 12 years when I came to you complaining about my marriage. You began to teach me about relationships. You used good ole Oklahoma English to talk to me, it sounded like words from another planet as far as what I could understand. You were patient because it took a very long time for me to understand. When I begin to think like this I found it to be a difficult paradigm shift. It came slowly. It changed my life.
I began taking responsibility for my own actions. My kids did not "MAKE ME ANGRY", I chose anger as a response to my kids. My husband was not changing in the ways I wanted him to change. Isn't that what he is supposed to do? LOL!!! I could not change my husband all I could do was love him. Let him live in freedom. God would bring the changes about that He wanted to bring about. I was only responsible for ME, my feelings, my hurt, my responses to people. I did not need to perform my Christianity for God to approve of me. God approved of me because of CHRIST. Sanctification was a process not a do and don't list all so people would think I was a good Christian and they would like me because I did so much in the church.
I learned to JUST BE ME. I let others be themselves. I became less judgmental and less critical of others and I learned to love them. I learned that I have Christ. That is enough. If I am loved by others that's great. If I am rejected by others That's great too for I will be alright because I have Jesus. Like I said, it took me a bunch of years to retrain my thinking, but praise be to God I did learn. My marriage is healthier, my relationship with my children as adults is wonderful and I make decisions and take actions according to what I believe is the right thing to do. I also reap the good or bad consequences without fear or blame of others. THANKS, WADE!!! I appreciate you not giving up on a slow learner like me.
Jeff, Rachelle and I and many others have lost a friend.  We lost a sister-in-Christ who has taught us much. Our prayers are with you and your children, now adults themselves. I wish all of us could live the rest of our lives in Mrs. Roger's neighborhood. Pege got it.

Funeral services will be Thursday, October 26, 2017 at 11:00 am.

The Whiteshirts Came to Know Him Only After They Knew How Much I Cared to Know Them

Some moments move me in ways difficult to express. One such moment occurred last Sunday, October 15, 2017.

What happened is a defining event for me personally.

As I walked through an area where we set out tables and chairs for people to eat breakfast and visit between worship services, I saw a Chinese family sitting by themselves. I sat down and had an enjoyable conversation with recent emigrants from China who now live and work in Enid. They've been coming to Emmanuel Enid for several weeks.

As I got up to leave, I noticed two young ladies seated at the next table. They looked to be Native American.

Both girls shyly glanced my way as I approached, and then they hurriedly looked back down at their breakfast. I was sure they'd overheard my conversation with the family one table over, and I wondered if the girls were thinking, "Will he stop and talk to us too?"

Many Native Americans experience racial prejudice, even in Oklahoma. It's hard for American Caucasians to understand the feeling of being ignored or overlooked because of the color of one's skin or ethnic background. I did not want to convey to these girls that they were unimportant to me.

People blindness is a dreaded disease I fight hard to never catch.

So I stopped and greeted the girls. Both of them looked up and smiled. 

"Ladies, do you mind if I pull up a chair and join you?"

They smiled again and said no.  I pulled up a chair at the end of their table.

"What's your names?"

Francesca introduced herself first. She told me she was sixteen and had been coming to Emmanuel for a few weeks. She then introduced her sister, Alice, age twenty-four. Alice said this was her first time to come to Emmanuel.

"You two girls are beautiful. Do you mind me asking, 'Are you Native American?'"

Alice blushed, and said, "Yes. We are full-blooded."

"What tribe?"

They told me they were Cheyenne/Arapaho. They explained that their mother is Cheyenne and that their father, now deceased, was Arapaho.

"Are you girls interested in your Cheyenne/Arapaho heritage?"

"Of course!" they said, with what now seemed a perpetual smile.

For the next ten minutes, I sat with Francesca and Alice and told them the story of the little two-year-old Arapaho boy who had survived the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864.

The boy, the son of an Arapaho chief, was left an orphan when his entire family was massacred at Sand Creek. He was plucked from the carnage by a United States militia soldier from Colorado named Lemuel Graham.

Graham, with the help of his friend and fellow soldier Jesse Wilson, hid the Arapaho toddler in a stove for their journey back to Denver, Colorado. They hid the boy because their commander, Col. John Chivington, had issued the order, "No captives, no survivors."

"The soldiers mistakenly thought the boy was Cheyenne, which is easy to do," I told the girls. "For as you know, Cheyenne and Arapaho people have similar heritage and customs."

Upon arriving in Denver, Graham and Wilson gave their Arapaho captive his new name - Wilson R. Graham.

"What the soldiers did next with the Arapaho toddler was unconscionable," I said.

The girls looked at me, wide-eyed, anticipating what would be said next.

I recounted how the soldiers placed Wilson Graham in a traveling circus for their personal financial gain.

The circus went to small frontier towns throughout eastern Colorado, Nebraska, and even western Missouri. Americans would pay a penny to see the "Indian savage" who'd survived Sand Creek.

Wilson Graham was a circus-captive sideshow in the Wilson and Graham circus for three years, 1864-1867.

"The United States and the Plains Indians were at war during the time Wilson Graham was held captive," I told the girls. "But in 1867, when Wilson was five-years-old, this Arapaho circus boy became instrumental in bringing peace to the frontier."

I told the girls how in 1867, the President of the United States, Andrew Johnson, sent the United States Indian Peace Commission, composed of high-ranking army generals and politicians, to negotiate peace with the Plainsmen Indians who'd been on the warpath since Sand Creek.

The Cheyenne, Arapaho, Comanche, and Kiowa finally all agreed to meet the Peace Commission at an Indian holy site called Medicine Lodge (Kansas) with one condition:
"You must bring the circus boy with you." 
U.S. Army General William T. Sherman was commissioned by the President to use all resources at his disposal to find the circus boy and bring him to Medicine Lodge. The General who was well-known for scorching the earth in his March to the Sea at the end of the Civil War was now searching the earth to find the little five-year-old boy Indian boy.

Sherman's troops found the boy in the traveling in a frontier city town and had the boy taken to Medicine Lodge on October 15, 1867, accompanied by the Peace Commissioners.

"Girls," I said, drawing my story to a close, "As a result of this five-year-old Cheyenne/Arapaho boy being brought to Medicine Lodge  exactly 150 years ago today (October 15, 1867)  the Medicine Lodge Peace Treaty was signed."

I thought it was remarkable that I was telling this story to two Cheyenne/Arapaho girls on the anniversary of the Cheyenne/Arapaho circus boy being united with his tribe.

I also thought I was finished with the story, but the girls had one question for me.

"What happened to the boy?" 

"He reverted to his Arapaho name Tom Whiteshirt and...."

I stopped talked talking when I heard the girls gasp.

"We are Whiteshirts," they said. 

I was stunned.

I knew that all Cheyenne/Arapaho Whiteshirts in Oklahoma descended from the lone Whiteshirt survivor of the Sand Creek Massacre. 

Francesca and Alice explained to me that their deceased father was an Arapaho Indian named Alfred Whiteshirt. When they'd introduced themselves to me, they'd not given me their surname.

I told them that they were definitely related to the Whiteshirt who was the circus boy. Their eyes were wide, and they had more questions. They'd never heard this story before. 

I told them to wait right there, and I'd go print off an article for them that I'd written about it

When I came back five minutes later, the girls' mother, Mona, was standing with them. She confirmed that she was full-blooded Cheyenne and that she'd been married to their father, Mr. Alfred Whiteshirt. Mr. Whiteshirt had died a few years ago. Mona had never heard the story either, but she was ecstatic that her girls were learning about their heritage. 

I gave them the papers I'd printed off and told the girls that I'd really enjoyed getting to know them and looked forward to visiting with them again.

I didn't have to wait very long. 

After our third worship service last Sunday morning, about an hour and a half after I'd met Francesca and Alice for the first time, the sisters came to see me.  I noticed their eyes were filled with tears. 

Both Alice and Francesca told me that they wanted Jesus Christ to be the King of their lives. They desired Jesus to make His home in their hearts. They wanted their hearts to be God's House

As we spoke, the tears that were welling up began trickling down their cheeks. I reminded them of God's love, and how through surrendering their lives to Jesus Christ, everything they'd ever done wrong - past/present/future - would be forgiven by the work of Christ. I explained that with Jesus as the Lord of their lives, He would lovingly and patiently care for them and watch over them forever. 

I assured them that there was "no ritual" nor "chant" to ask Jesus to be their Lord and Savior. It was just a matter of opening their hearts to Him and receiving Him into their lives as King.

Then, as we prayed, I stretched out my hands and placed them on the crowns of their bowed heads as these two descendants of Tom Whiteshirt asked Jesus Christ to be their Lord and Savior. 

Francesca and Alice were saved.

Tom Whiteshirt was saved from temporal death by a U.S. soldier at the Sand Creek Massacre. 

Tom Whiteshirt's great-great-granddaughters were saved from eternal death by Jesus Christ 150 years later. 

Since Sunday I've followed up with Francesca and Alice. They both will be baptized on Sunday, October 29, 2017, testifying publicly of their faith in Jesus Christ. We've purchased for them Bibles and will personally encourage them as they learn what it means to walk in the grace and love of God in a fallen world where people are still being massacred

I know that Jesus saves His people (see Matthew 1:21).

But last Sunday was a reminder to me that Theodore Roosevelt was right
"People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."

The Story of a Boy at Medicine Lodge So Long Ago

Tulsa Police Officer Jimmy Whiteshirt
Today, October 14, 2017, is a significant anniversary that few Americans will note.

150 years ago today, October 14, 1867, a well-armed caravan of nearly 500 American soldiers and politicians arrived at a Plainsmen Indian religious site called Medicine Lodge. The purpose of this so-called “Peace Commission” was to negotiate a peace treaty with the savage Plainsmen Indians, including the Comanche, Apache, Cheyenne, Arapahoe, and Kiowa.

What happened at Medicine Lodge during the two weeks of negotiations and treaty signing (October 14 - October 27, 1861), is an example of United States colonialism.

American exceptionalism is nothing new. The Medicine Lodge Peace Treaty between the United States government and the Plainsmen Indians is an example of a belief that the American way is always the best.

But it's one thing to promote exceptionalism; altogether different to live an exceptional life.

Alfred A. Taylor, who was present at Medicine Lodge as a young man, and whose father, Nathaniel Green Taylor, served as the Chairman of the Indian Peace Commission as well as Superintendent for Indian Affairs for the United State’s government, would later explain why peace with the Plainsmen Indians in 1867 was so important for the United States, and yet so difficult to obtain:
The task of this Commission was a most important and difficult one, involving, as it did the settlement of a war which had been going on for more than three years; the settlement of claims for rampages growing out of the massacre of peaceable Indians by Chivington at Sand Creek, Colorado - which caused the war; and claims growing out of the destruction by Hannock's troops of the Cheyenne "Dog Soldier" village at Pawnee Fork, Kansas - which prolonged the war and made the pacification of the Indians much more difficult; the adjustment of claims for back annumities, and the removal of the various tribes from old to new reservations.
The November 29, 1864 Sand Creek Massacre remains the worst massacre of women and children in American history. American volunteer soldiers, mostly farmers, businessmen and even preachers and teachers were all involved in committing the massacre.

In 1867. the Plainsmen Indians were still seeking retaliation for Sand Creek, remaining on the warpath. 

So the United States  Indian Peace Commission traveled through hostile territory and arrived at Medicine Lodge on October 14, 1867. Medicine Lodge was chosen by the Indians as the site for the negotiations due to its long distance from any U.S. military fort.

Sand Creek was still fresh in the their minds.

The Indian Peace Commission arrived at Medicine Lodge with a specific three-fold purpose:

  1. To convince the Plainsmen Indians to withdraw all opposition to the construction of the Pacific railroads. 
  2. To get the Plainsmen Indians' to relinquish their claims to land lying between the Platte and Arkansas Rivers to build a railroad linking the east and west coasts.
  3. To get the Plainsmen Indians to withdraw to new reservations in western Indian Territory (Oklahoma) set apart for them.

Medince Lodge, an ancient holy site to Plainsmen Indians
The fact that the Indian Peace Commission successfully negotiated this treaty, and that the Plainsmen Indians withdrew to reservations in western Oklahoma is truly astonishing.  Credit must be given to the Plainsmen chiefs, including the tranquil Cheyenne Chief Black Kettle, who signed the treaty on behalf of their people. 

Though the Medicine Lodge Peace Treaty was negotiated and signed, peace would not immediately come. For the next decade, Plainsmen warriors would often “go off the reservation” to hunt,  kill white buffalo hunters, and take retribution on Americans encroaching on their land. 

The United States government in the 1860's, 70's and 80's followed the example of English and
The Great Plains - Roamed and Owned by the Plainsmen
European Colonialism in Africain and implemented American “colonialism” in fulfillment of Manifest Destiny - uniting the east coast (Atlantic) with the west coast (Pacific) - though the Plains in between both American coasts was land roamed and owned by the Plainsmen Indians.  Some Americans believed "the only good Indian is a dead Indian," a belief which blossomed into the Sand Creek Massacre.

But political leaders sought peace through American colonialism.

Colonialism, as seen in the British and European explorations of the Dark Continent (Africa) and the explorations and land claims by the United States of the Dark Plains during the late 1800's, revolved around the three “C’s" of Colonialism:

Christianity, Commerce, Civilization

Plainsmen Reservations (West), Civilized Nations (East)
The United States laid claim to the plains north of Oklahoma in 1867,  and would later lay claim to the plains of western Oklahoma through a series of Land Runs in the 1880's and 1890's, for the stated purpose of "civilizing" the Plainsmen Indians.

Rather than slaughtering the Indians, the government deemed it best to assimilate the Indians into American culture. The goal was to convert the Indians to Christianity, teach them the principles of commerce, and in the end, civilize them.

The Medicine Lodge Peace Treaty is the first treaty between the United States government and the Indians that explicitly states the goal of civilizing the Indians. 

This is why it is a historic treaty. More than a few Americans, today especially millennials, are upset
Wild Bill Hickock 
with modern American exceptionalism, Christian evangelism, and economic capitalism.  150 years ago, colonialism was chosen by the government as the only option to bring peace with the Indians.

Whether it could have been done differently is open to debate. Whether or not colonialism was the solution chosen by the government of the United States is without debate.

The people at Medicine Lodge 150 years ago reads like a world's list of Who's Who of the 19th century. Henry M. Stanley was there, working as a news reporter, just four years before he discovered Dr. Livingstone in Africa.  So too, Wild Bill Hickock was there serving as a scout for the U.S. military, less than ten years before he was killed during a poker game in Deadwood, South Dakota, holding the infamous Dead Man's Hand.  The Cheyenne savage Okuhhatuh, whose life story is one of the most captivating in the history of America, was also at Medicine Lodge. George Armstrong  Custer was supposed to be there, but he was in jail, sent there by General Hancock after Custer left his command of the 7th Cavalry to visit his wife. Black Kettle was there, but on Black Kettle and his wife Medicine Woman at the Battle of Washita River.  Five generals, three U.S. Senators, one state governor and many future state governors, and a host of other remarkable men and women were all present at Medicine Lodge.
Henry Morton Stanley 
November 27, 1868, just a little over a year after Medicine Lodge, Custer and his 7th Cavalry soldiers would kill

But I'll close by telling you the forgotten story of one five-year-old boy present at Medicine Lodge whose name you ought never forget. You can learn more about him from a superb 2014 article in the Wall Street Journal, written by Michael Allen, a descendant of one of the soldiers who participated in the Sand Creek Massacre.

5-year-old Indian boy
The five-year-old boy at Medicine Creek those 150 years ago went by the English name of Wilson Graham.  He was a Plainsmen Indian. He'd survived the Sand Creek Massacre as a toddler. Though the military commander at Sand Creek,  Col. John Chivington, had ordered there were to be "no survivors" at Sand Creek, two Company C cavalrymen, Lemuel Graham and Jesse Wilson, took possession of the boy and hid him in a stove to bring him back to Denver. Some soldiers brought ears of the Indians they'd cut off, displaying them in bars for drinks. Other soldiers brought home "the snatches" of the Indian women, displaying them as trophies. Other soldiers brought home scalps, fingers, tongues, and other bodily appendages. These two soldiers hid the boy in a stove to take him back to Denver to make money displaying him in a traveling circus they were putting together.

According to Henry Stanley's account of Medicine Creek, the Indians would not meet to negotiate a treaty without this boy present. General Sherman found Wilson Graham in a sideshow circus and made sure the boy made the trip to Medicine Lodge as part of the Indian Commission.

I'll let Mr. Allen pick up the story from his 2014 Wall Street Journal article:
Graham promptly made the boy the main attraction in a circus that also included rattlesnakes and a bear. Mr. Graham bestowed upon the boy his new white name: Wilson R. Graham.
But by 1865, the government was parlaying with the Cheyenne and Arapaho, trying to bring an end to the bloodshed. There was a sticking point. The chiefs demanded the return of the little boy.
The commissioner of Indian affairs instructed the then-Colorado governor, Alexander Cummings, to locate him. He reported that he was no longer in the territory. The Army, too, pressed the search, finally picking up his trail in Indiana. By one account, soldiers staged a dramatic backstage rescue of the boy, now about five years old, just as a performance was concluding.The child returned West to considerable media acclaim.
In 1867, he joined the expedition of Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock, who was traveling to the plains to punish hostile Indians. The boy made a favorable impression on a young George Armstrong Custer. “He was dressed comfortably in accordance with civilized custom; and, having been taken from his people at so early an age, was apparently satisfied with the life he led,” Gen. Custer wrote in his book, My Life on the Plains.
After it was determined that he wasn’t Cheyenne at all, but Arapaho, he was handed over to a chief of that tribe, Little Raven. He received a new name: Tom White Shirt, and was brought to Oklahoma, where some of the demoralized Indians had been resettled. For a time, he continued to interest the press. Henry M. Stanley, the English journalist who would go on to win world renown for locating Dr. Livingstone in Africa, met up with the child while on a newspaper assignment. “This boy is rapidly forgetting the English language,” he wrote. “He is efficient in the use of the bow and arrow, and has acquired prominence among his many playmates on account of his varied accomplishments. His feats of leaping and wrestling command the respect of the Arapaho elders. His knowledge of the English language is a source of constant admiration, and his many-bladed jack-knife is an object of envy to his brother braves.”
Tom White Shirt, in the manner of many child stars, eventually dropped out of sight. He married multiple times. He was given 160 acres to homestead—same as my great-great-grandfather—and lived out his days near Calumet, Oklahoma. 
His life was far from easy. He never learned to read or write. The federal government viewed Native Americans as incapable of handling their own affairs. Files in the Oklahoma History Center show that Tom White Shirt had to seek permission to buy clothing or a train ticket. In 1925, he asked a local supervisor if he could withdraw $60 from a bank account held in trust, $25 of it for Christmas and $35 to lend to a man named Peter Hoof. “I do not like this loaning but Pete is such a reasonable and good fellow I will say yes,” the supervisor wrote. Tom White Shirt signed with a thumbprint.
The 1894 Indian census shows Tom White Shirt at 29 years old, living with a wife, White Cow, a 9-year-old son, Falling Off The Horse, and an infant daughter, Georgia. By 1920, the son, renamed Earl White Shirt, had himself married, to a woman named Good Warrior. He had three daughters and two sons. Earl went into show business, joining a famed Oklahoma Wild West show as a trick shooter.
By the time Tom White Shirt died in 1933, around the age of 70, the clan he founded was enthusiastically repopulating the plains. Earl’s five children had nine children, who in turn had 49. I was able to identify 135 people in the sixth generation, and 122 in the seventh.
There are soldiers and social workers in the White Shirt family tree, alcoholism counselors, tribal leaders and a documentary filmmaker. Some live in poverty and some have struck oil. One of Tom White Shirt's great-great-grandsons, James Earl Whiteshirt, known to his friends as “Jimmy,” earned a Medal of Valor from the Tulsa police department for risking his own life to save a shooting victim. At 63, he alone has seven children, 20 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. By last week, the White Shirt line was up to at least 331.
331 Americans from the loins of one five-year-old Indian boy who escaped Sand Creek and whose presence at Medicine Lodge was demanded by the Plainsmen Indians before they'd negotiated with the United States.

Today, on this 150th anniversary of the Indian Peace Commission arriving at Medicine Lodge, I'm reminded that every American life, like American history, is filled with mistakes, heartache, and tragedies. But what makes our nation great is the ability of all Americans, regardless of ethnicity, to rise out of the ashes of tragedy to find individual triumph. 

Thanks, Jimmy Whiteshirt. I served with you when I was a volunteer chaplain at the Tulsa Police Department during the late 1980's and early 1990's.  Your heroic actions deserve the Medal of Valor (see picture at the top of this post). 

Jimmy, you've inspired me today. From tragedy to triumph, yours is the story of a boy at Medicine Lodge.