What a wonderful, hectic, crazy, busy weekend with family and friends in the Kingdom of God!
The Graceton Family Retreat at the Heart’s Bluff Game Ranch in Mt. Pleasant was so encouraging and so much fun. Our brothers and sisters at the Graceton Church were so very warm and welcoming to my family and me. We ate wonderful food. We sang and prayed together. And we spent a lot of time talking about discipleship and what it means to be a follower of our rabbi, Jesus the Christ. It’s so uplifting to realize how large God’s Kingdom is. We focus on doing the Lord’s work in our little corners of the Kingdom. And it’s so easy to get so wrapped up in that and lose the bigger picture of God’s work of reconciliation and salvation being done all over this globe. Out in East Texas, the Graceton Church is doing God’s work. And God is working through them and with them.
The best part of the retreat, for the kids probably, was the fishing tournament. None of my three girls have ever even been fishing before. (I know. Blame me. I’m a horrible dad.) And fishing off a pier into a stock tank absolutely loaded with all kinds of fish was the best way for them to start. It was so easy. I think we could have dropped our hooks in there without any bait and caught our limit. Whitney caught four or five. Valerie caught two. And Carley caught six fish in a little over 30 minutes! She actually won the trophy for the age group 12 and under. She was so proud and excited. She actually slept with the trophy wrapped in her arms on the way home. And she took it to school this morning to show all her friends.
Thanks to Jason and Tiersa and all the Graceton Church family for the wonderful weekend. May we all be covered by the dust from our Savior’s feet.
We got home at just before 7:00 Saturday night. And my parents arrived at our house about three minutes after we did. It was good to have mom and dad with us overnight and then all day Sunday. We didn’t get to visit as much as I would have liked. Sunday is a real work day for me now. But we shared parts of three meals together and Grandpa got to beat Whitney in air hockey.
And then, last night’s Trunk or Treat here at Legacy. What a huge production! I think there were more people from our North Richland Hills and surrounding communities than there were of us. All the cars were elaborately decorated. The Swafford’s set-up was hilarious. John & Suzanne’s spider car was incredible. The costumes were imaginative. Everybody had a great time with all the kids. And I think we put on a good face for our Lord in our community.
We had a wonderful time in the Worship Center last night considering the Mark 4-5 story of Jesus and his disciples in the Gerasene Graveyard. I split the congregation up into five sections and assigned each section a different sound effect — scary organ music, thunder and wind, pigs, and the theme from “Jaws” — and then told the story like we were directing a horror movie. Everybody really got into it. Tom Hunn absolutely stole the show with his pained, agonizing howls from the cliffs. And I think telling the story this way, with everybody involved and engaged, really opened up the deeper theological truths behind this very familiar passage.
Jesus embark on a daring invasion to claim alien turf under enemy occupation to prove there’s no place in the world, there’s no corner of this earth, that he does not intend to extend God’s reign. And that speaks to us. Whatever demons in your life are working to isolate you from the community of faith — no matter how low you go or how far away you get — Jesus is bent on rescuing you. He’ll fight through the devil’s storm to rescue you. God is looking for you. Even if you’re across the lake, in an unholy land filled with demons and swine.
It’s amazing to me how the evil spirits tremble in the presence of Jesus. They immediately recognize the divinity of Jesus as the Son of God and they know they’re up against vastly superior firepower. No contest. They beg for mercy before the fight even starts. Please don’t punish us! Please don’t destroy us! It’s over before it begins. There’s no suspense. No tension in the plot. No wonder in the outcome. And while that makes for a lousy movie ending, it’s a wonderful reality for us. And whatever demons are torturing you — doubt, guilt, habits, pain — they’re powerless in a fact-to-face meeting with our God. Our Lord has the desire and the will and the power to obliterate those demons and cast them into the deepest bottom of the Abyss.
And it’s amazing to me that, in his encounter with the Christ, the tortured man is made whole. He’s given peace. Scripture tells us the man is clothed, he’s in his right mind, he regains his family and his home, and he’s given a mission. He has a purpose in his life: to tell everyone what the Lord has done for him.
Jesus has rescued me. He’s saved me from demons that would destroy me. And I can’t shut up about it. And he’s looking to save you. He’ll stop at nothing to redeem you. He’ll go through the storm. He’ll cross all the barriers of time and space. He wants nothing more than for your movie to have a happy ending. He wants your movie to have that guaranteed outcome with no suspense and no tension.
It was so Scott Boras and so A-Fraud of them to make the announcement that he’s opting out of his Yankees deal during the 7th inning of Game Four of the World Series. He can’t show up at the World Series to receive an award from Hank Aaron. But he can upstage Major League Baseball’s Fall Classic. A lesson learned from Jerry Wayne, I suppose. Duane came into the offices this morning talking about how the Angels and the Rangers were the front-runners for A-Fraud’s services. No way. If Tom Hicks will just see this for the blessing it is and spend the $21 million over the next three years on a pitcher, we’d all be much better off. You’re finally, for the first time in seven years completely clear and free of this clown, just let it go. Spend the money on something other than a clubhouse nuisance.