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Change Again and Always

I still have not recovered from the last two times we sprang forward then back. Now it is back to springing forward again on Sunday, March 14. Every day something else is changing. Some days I am confronted with multiple changes and the decisions that go with each change. Apparently, I keep asking myself the wrong question: Do I like this change? No seems to be my first standard reply to myself. I have to remind myself of my own philosophy of transformational change: Embrace change because change is embracing you. I am not always happy about the way changes on every hand are embracing me. Each day I gaze into the mirror ever hopeful for a change back of about 20 years. I go to the closet only to discover that my favorite old clothes seem to have shrunk during the night. I can’t wear some things right now, but I hope to one day if I lose a few pounds, exercise, eat healthy, get enough sleep, but that would mean having to change. 

My 2020 vision for 2020 and 2021 did not factor in a year, or two, of constant, unrelenting change, adapting and chaos at every turn. Change is here again and always will be. Change takes a lot of time and energy, but so does denying it. Change is hard work, but so is battling it.  Either way I have to deal with it somehow. It is never “one and done,” once and it’s over. Embracing change has some important strategies that I am learning to implement: I may have to adapt, re-learn, discard and develop new ways, methods and routines. Pretending not to change always seems easier. With all the big and small changes thrust upon me, I must learn to grieve the losses, face my emotions honestly, and seek refuge in faith, family and friends. I must find a way to laugh or sing, somehow, each and every day. 

 Some folks believe that people cannot really change, even though they say they believe the Gospel, the power of God’s Spirit and new life in Christ. Maybe Christians are supposed to be personal examples of transformational change. “I once was lost but now I’m found. I once was blind but now I see.” Maybe we Christians have put too much emphasis on the “once was” instead of the “but now.” 

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Embrace change. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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Easter Is the Day

Easter is the Day. I went back and read my 2020 reflections on church life concerning the pandemic, beginning with the first one on January 28. If you recall, the Averys returned to their home in Shenyang on January 21, the day China locked down. Reading that post again brought home for me the seriousness of their situation and ours. In my article for June 23, I was optimistic we would be gradually returning to in-person worship during the summer. Of course, that did not work out. But now I am sensing that Resurrection Day, April 4th, is the time to return to Sunday church worship. I believe we are coming to a place where many of our people have their vaccinations in process or have recovered from their own encounter with Covid-19. Tulsa seems to be coming down from the highest peaks and we are approaching where we were before Labor Day. Hopefully that trend will continue these next four weeks. Also, God provided us with an icy 10-day lockdown and enough accompanying inconveniences to keep many at home dealing with more pressing issues.

We have the church sanitation routine working smoothly. In addition to the previously reported upgrades in the restrooms, we have secured a better method of wiping down the pews twice a week that uses a fogger-type machine to pump an anti-bacterial mist into the air without harming the furniture. The tables and chairs in Fellowship Hall are cleaned as often as they are used. Monte Los Olivos is going back to Sunday morning and Wednesday evening church on a regular basis again. 

Easter is the most important Sunday in the history of the world. Jesus arose from the grave to give us all new life. It was so hard and sad to close the church last year. I seek your prayers through these next weeks of preparation for this Easter. I am weary of decision making. I am weary of having to learn so many “work arounds” and adjust to never-ending pressures and expectations. In addition to Sunday morning worship, I see the need to keep the weekly Facebook services going. This has proven to be a great way for our church to minister, both near and far. We will need some additional time and expertise to help us get everything organized and operational for April 4. 

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Easter is the Day. And let’s experience the love and power of God together while apart.

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The Power of a Snowflake

This has been a rather nippy week. I wore my parka from my trip to Antarctica when I went outside today. I knew I would use it again one day! Today’s temperature went up 26 degrees—from -13 to +13. It is starting to get warmer. I can feel it in my bones. Or maybe it is the hot chocolate. I wrote once about the power of a snowflake and received a strong written response from one of our church members. This happened in January of 1987 following a very harsh snowstorm. I wrote:

Once again, we have seen the awesome power of a snowflake. A snowflake is such a delicate wisp of frozen moisture, yet so strong that it can destroy cars and trucks in an instant. When enough snowflakes get together, they can stop traffic, cause roofs to collapse, destroy power lines and bury a city. Add a half-inch of ice under 8½ inches of snow, slightly melt, then refreeze the whole thing (three or four days in a row) and you have a Tulsa Popsicle, or the world’s largest Slip n’ Slide. Well, it has been pretty. Some Christians tell me they can’t do much, if anything, for the Lord. Think about snowflakes.     See you in Sunday School.    Bro. Darryl

I was simply trying to make a point about how even fragile snowflakes, working together, can change the world. It was also about how some Christians, who may under-value their time, influence, and capabilities, can change the world by working together.  Here is the written response I received. It was published the following week in the Evangel and is being reprinted here with permission: 

In addition to my father’s column about the harmful and dangerous ways of snowflakes, they are very useful. You can enjoy the beauty of the snow or build a snowman. They are quite peaceful and relaxing activities. You could also make snow ice cream, go sledding, or just take a walk in the snow. To keep the snowflake’s good honor, I suggest you read this and remember the good, fun, useful ways of the snowflakes, not just the bad things about snowflakes.       See you in Sunday School.

Dayna L. DeBorde (age 10)

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Think about the snowflakes. And let’s experience the love and power of God together while we are apart.

Bro. Darryl

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On Trust

George P. Shultz, a combat marine in World War II, died last week at 100. He was a university professor of economics unless his country called on him. President Eisenhower asked him to be his economic advisor. President Nixon asked him to be Secretary of Labor, Budget Manager and Treasury Secretary. President Reagan called on him to be Secretary of State. This past summer I watched an interview of George Shultz, made in 2016, as part of a subsequent compilation from a gathering of all the living US secretaries of state. On December 11, 2020, Secretary Shultz wrote an article that was published in the Washington Post titled, The 10 Most Important Things I’ve Learned About Trust Over My 100 Years.  He begins the article this way:

Dec. 13 marks my turning 100 years young. I’ve learned much over that time, but looking back, I’m struck that there is one lesson I learned early and then relearned over and over: Trust is the coin of the realm. When trust was in the room, whatever room that was — the family room, the schoolroom, the locker room, the office room, the government room or the military room — good things happened. When trust was not in the room, good things did not happen. Everything else is details. 

His article consists of 10 examples of trust across his life beginning with learning trust at home, at war, at MIT, though labor negotiations, race and political relations, and foreign relations. He concludes with number 10 when he writes:

“In God we trust.” Yes, and when we are at our best, we also trust in each other. Trust is fundamental, reciprocal and, ideally, pervasive. If it is present, anything is possible. If it is absent, nothing is possible. The best leaders trust their followers with the truth, and you know what happens as a result? Their followers trust them back. With that bond, they can do big, hard things together, changing the world for the better.

Trustworthiness is vital. I counsel couples who want to marry that there are four foundational pillars on which to build a marriage, a home or a life—Christ, love, commitment, and trust. If any pillar is forsaken, the marriage, home or life is in grave jeopardy. 

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Be trustworthy. And let’s experience the love and power of God together while apart.

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