Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Celebration of LIfe of a true churchman

On Tuesday July 27,2010 - I attended a service of celebration of life for a true churchman – Mr. Coy Newell. Coy was the father of Allen Newell. Allen was my best friend through elementary school, middle school and high school. The memories of our friendship are too numerous to record here. With this posting I want to pay tribute to his dad – Coy Newell.

The Charlotte Observer recorded that Mr. Coy Newell, age 78 of Charlotte, died July 24, 2010 at his residence. We were reminded at the service that Coy did not die – he was promoted to his eternal reward. I have called him a true churchman for a reason. He was a faithful member of the First Wesleyan Church of Charlotte, NC for 58 years. Since the age of twenty, with his bride Vickie, they have served the Lord and the church faithfully. Coy and Vickie celebrated over 58 years of marriage recently. Coy held many positions of leadership at the church, but I best remember him leading the choir and his musical ministry.

You may ask – what is so special about a person 23 years your senior and a person you have not seen in several years? Well, Coy played a significant role in my early development as a Christian. I was not raised in a Christian home. My parents or our family did not attend church. Allen invited me to church and I accepted his invitation. (I believe it had something to do with the number of girls in the youth group at the time.)

I vividly remember looking out the picture window of our living room and watch for the family car pull out of the Newell’s drive way. Coy was driving. They would pass the three houses between their house and my house. Then the car would stop – and I would leave the house to get into the back seat for the 10 mile drive to First Wesleyan Church. The Newell family adopted me into their family every Sunday and the church family of First Wesleyan played a major role into loving me into the Kingdom of God. I went with the youth group from First Wesleyan to my first youth camp and later to the youth convention in Atlanta, Georgia in December 1972. It was through that convention that I accepted Jesus as my savior and began my life as a Christian. Each Sunday it was Coy Newell who gave a young man a ride to church. Today that young man is quite a bit older and celebrates 35 years of pastoral ministry this year.

The impact of Coy Newell’s life upon my early spiritual development was imperative. It reminds me of the account found in the Bible – John Chapter 1:40 – 42a

“Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, "We have found the Messiah" (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. …”

The Newell family was some of the first Christians I had ever met. They were truly followers of Jesus. Allen found me (as a brother) and with the assistance of his dad – Coy – they brought me to Jesus. They literally – provided a place in their car and took me to church to find Jesus.

Part of the untold story about Coy Newell is his faithful church attendance. An individual who served as Coy’s pastor for many years said “You could describe Coy’s dedication to the church in three phrases: Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night.” If the doors of the church were opened – Coy was there.

I was moved by a comment a person sitting in front of me at the service today said. They commented “I thought Coy must really be sick because he had missed 2 Sundays. The next Saturday morning he went to be with the Lord.” Coy Newell had served for years in various capacities of leadership in the church. More recently he had to keep a portable oxygen tank near him and needed assistance in walking – but he was not missing church. The tribute to his life was evident today by the church being filled to capacity with those expressing love to the family and celebrating the life of Coy Newell.

We sang only one song during the service. It was the song that I discovered has been the “church song” of First Wesleyan through the years. When the song was introduced it was said that if you held a hymnal in your hand it would probably open to this song. It is truly one of my favorite songs – and one that I have requested to be sung at my funeral. Here are the words to the last verse and chorus:

I heard about a mansion
He has built for me in glory.
And I heard about the streets of gold
Beyond the crystal sea;
About the angels singing,
And the old redemption story,
And some sweet day I'll sing up there
The song of victory.

O victory in Jesus,
My Savior, forever.
He sought me and bought me
With His redeeming blood;
He loved me ere I knew Him,
And all my love is due Him,
He plunged me to victory,
Beneath the cleansing flood.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Christian Veterinary Mission 2010

Yesterday (Sunday July 25th) began with a time of prayer at NRN.

I arrived early at the church and met with Dr. Page Wages and the mission team preparing to depart for Arizona. A number of people from NRN joined us as we prayed for the team. Here is summary of their mission:

Christian Veterinary Mission: Navajo Mountain
July 25 - Aug 8, 2010

Navajo Mountain is located on the border of Arizona and Utah in one of the most remote desert locations in the United States. The mountain towers above the canyons surrounding it, standing alone in the desert. There is only one road to Navajo Mountain; it travels between canyons, rock formations, and valleys. Twenty miles from the mountain base, the road is dirt and rough, but people live on the mountain and somehow make a living in this desert land – their home. The closest grocery store is 1.5 hours away and gas is 45 minutes away, so anyone traveling to the mountain must plan accordingly.

At the base of the mountain, there is a boarding school to serve the many, many families who live on or near the mountain. Rough dirt roads branch off into the desert brush, right and left, leading to family hogans and houses. Most families have their own livestock (sheep, goats, or cattle). With 80 acres of land needed to support a single cow, the livestock wander in hopes of finding some food. Water is even more of a problem. Navajo Mountain averages 6 inches of rain a year, that’s it.

During the last 3 years, we have made short 2 week visits every summer to Tuba City and Navajo Mountain. Each year, we did multiple spay and neuter clinics in two different locations, and worked over 250 sheep and goats and 75 cows, with the numbers increasing each year. Irrigation systems were also placed and explained. But, most importantly, relationships were made. We were recognized by some of the people we met each year. And each subsequent year, many more people came to talk to us. Kids came and played with us, and we were invited to join family celebrations. The last two years, we were recognized at Pioneer Day, which is one of the most prestigious recognitions for the Navajo.

Kent Graymountain, a Grazing Official, took us from family farm to family farm to work with the livestock. We vaccinated and dewormed whatever we could find and catch. Cattle were pregnancy checked. The people were so thankful for Dr. Galphin’s “magic hand” which could tell the exact day the cow got pregnant. For these people, livestock are money and pregnancies mean more cattle. We were thanked over and over for our love and willingness to come out into the middle of the desert to help our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Despite our work – small animal, large animal, irrigation, and painting – we also found some time to see some sites and reflect on the majesty and wonder of Our Lord’s creations. Sitting on the rim of Navajo Mountain, we could see Utah mountains in the distance to the north, rain to the west, and canyons below. Miles and miles of landscape seemed to jump out at us. It was so beautiful. God created this world for us; whether it be desert or the tropics. God made the land for us to love and love to use. The Navajo have made the desert their home and love the land, the animals, and God. Through our work with their animals, we have helped decrease their worries about illnesses in their food production animals and lessen the small animal population through spays and neuters.

The first year we traveled to the Nation, we planted some seeds of our love on Navajo Mountain. By returning again each year, we have proved our love for them. This year, our love will shine.

Jesus gave us two commandments: 1. Love your Lord, our God. 2. Love your neighbor.

Although we can’t speak their language and don’t understand all their traditions, our goal is that they will see Jesus in our faces. We hope that this ongoing mission has shown them our love.

Join me as we pray daily for the North Carolina State University Christian Veterinary Fellowship members of the short term mission to the Navajo Nation.

Friday, July 23, 2010

We are Jonah

This coming Sunday - June 25th - at NRN, I will bring the final message from my teaching series from the book of Jonah. I have really enjoyed preaching this series and allowing God to speak to my heart about the truths from this little book. This was the first time I have preached from Jonah and have been amazed by the unbelievable truths about God I have discovered.
Here is a clip that spoke to my heart about the truths in Jonah:

Join us this Sunday as I share about our unbelievable God.
And remember to invite a person to join you.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Value of an Invitation

This past Sunday at NRN I continued the teaching series from the book of Jonah. We drew truths from chapter four about how God is more concerned for the lost than we are. At the close of the message - God spoke to my heart to ask if God had placed anyone in your thoughts that you should invite to church. I was amazed at the number of hands raised to indicate that God was speaking.
Consider the importance of inviting someone to church.

I closed the message with these words:

Can you imagine what would happen if we as a church came together and said: “God, I am not going to run anymore, but I am going to Nineveh. I don’t care what it costs me. I don’t care how bad it hurts.

I’m going to do what You have called me to do and go to Nineveh.

I am going to invite my neighbor over for dinner. I am going to build a relationship with them. I am going to extend somebody grace that doesn’t deserve it. God I am committed to go to Nineveh!”

Can you imagine the lives that would be changed?

Life is not about us and life is short.

Let’s not forget that God’s concern is much greater than our concerns!

Let’s make God’s concern our concern!

May we let God reign completely in our lives!

Who are you inviting to church this Sunday?
If the people at Rocky River Church can invite people -
Shouldn't we at NRN invite people to our church?

Monday, July 19, 2010

God's perception of the future

The past few weeks have been filled with many activities. I recently read this posting from Pastor Steven Furtick and felt I should pass it along.

Outside of money, I think the most difficult thing to trust God with is our future. More and more I’m coming to see that the root issue isn’t necessarily control. It’s perception. There is a significant discrepancy between our perception of our future and God’s perception of the future.

For us, our future isn’t really our future. Our future is our perceived future. An imagined future. A possibility.

For God, the future isn’t really the future either. But that’s because He is not in time so the future is right now. Present. Happening.

It’s hard for us to get on the same page with God about our future because the future we’re concerned about might not be the future God is living in. Or it is the future God is already living in and therefore has no anxiety over because He’s simultaneously there and every step that it takes to get there.

It’s interesting that when people got a glimpse of heaven in the Bible, it was usually in circumstances where the future was uncertain. Isaiah was dealing with the death of an effective and efficient king. The Christians in John’s day were dealing with persecution and the possibility of being killed for their faith. They had reason to worry. To be concerned. To wonder if God could be trusted with their futures.

But isn’t it telling that in all of these scenes, God is never panicking. Never anxious. Never trying to plot the best course for the future based on His best estimation of what’s going to happen. That’s because He doesn’t have to deal with the present uncertainty that comes with future possibilities. God knows where things are going because He’s already where they’re going.

The reason we trust God with our future is because He’s the only one who has ever experienced it. As limited beings, we have to let go of a future that might be for a future that is. A future where God is already present and therefore knows how to best prepare us for it and guide us to it.

Monday, July 5, 2010

One Nation Under God

A link to Jon McNaughton's painting, One Nation Under God, with a description of each person included. Click HERE