Monthly Archives: August 2013

My Dad

Our family just celebrated Dad’s 89th Birthday!!  We love and respect the patriarch of our family so much! Granddaughter Stephanie, with help from other family members hosted a beautiful party for him at his home. It was a most joyful event.

Robert, Gene, and Kyle with Dad

Dad, Kyle, Robert, and Gene

In “Friends of the King” page 62, after citing his favorite poem, “IF” by Rudyard Kipling, I said this about Dad:

The latter poem, as alluded, is my father’s favorite, and at eighty-eight he can still quote most of it. He has also lived it, and I’m forever grateful he did, in front of me, my brother, my sister, our friends, and his friends. One man like that cast a very large shadow of protection, wisdom, instruction, and life.

Stephanie, Dad, Freda

Stephanie, Dad, Freda

In his birthday card, I wrote these two Scriptures. I can’t say it better.

“A righteous man that walketh in his integrity, Blessed are his children after him.” (Proverbs 20:7, 1901 ASV)

“The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.” (Psalm 16:6, NASB95)

Thank you Dad, for your sacrifice, your love, and your character; for leading our family; for pointing us to the King, and for your service to the King.IMG_0845



Coincidence or Synchronicity?

Three friends, and aspiring to be friends of the King

Three friends, aspiring to be friends of the King

Today started out as flurry of activity, but ended up in peace and rest.

After the normal early morning men’s meeting in Van Buren, I stood in the parking lot too long visiting. Now everything had to go perfectly to honor a couple commitments and make it to my house in time to pick up two brothers who were to join me for the peaceful, relational drive to a monastery one hour east of Fort Smith for a little solitude and spiritual retreat.

The first stop went perfectly, as if the Lord went before me. Then there was a long, fast drive to the south side of town to deliver five books to a good friend who had already bought books for himself and his three sons, but wanted five more for gifts. I was naturally honored to oblige. I wheeled into the Waffle House parking lot just as my friend and another good friend were sitting down for breakfast. We greeted each other with smiles, hand shakes, and hugs, and I plopped down at the end of the table and began signing the gift books as quickly as I could. I had told these two about the retreat,  waiting friends, and that I was on the run.

Part of the helpful Coury House Staff, Friends

Part of the helpful Coury House Staff, Friends

I had just finished signing number three, when the waitress started asking questions about the book, with my friends answering for me. Then she asked, “How much?” I turned and told her. She said, “I’ll buy one.” My friend buying the five quickly spoke up and said, “No you won’t; I’m buying it for you.” We all looked  at each other smiling, and I asked, “Who do you want me to sign it to?” She replied, “Don Hutchings, my pastor.” “ I owe him everything. He led me to the Lord. I’ll read it first, then I’ll give it to him.” “Coincidence,” but Don is a friend of mine in another church in our city. Just as I hand the book to her, and start to sign the next one, my book buying friend, Shep, exclaims loudly, “Charlie Huff!”  I keep writing and don’t look up, conscious of the escaping time, but I know I will. Charlie Huff is an old squadron mate of ours! The four of us flew F-4 Phantoms together in Fort Smith and around the world. What a “coincidence” that he would be in town, and show up at the same restaurant, at the same time, when we hadn’t seen each other for years? He asked about the book as he watched me feverishly signing, catching up through conservation at the same time. The others answered his questions, just as with the waitress, then Charlie said, “Well, I guess I ought to buy one!” Shep spoke up quickly again, as before, “No you’re not! I’m going to buy one for you!” So with five books turning into seven, I ran out to the truck to fetch two more. With all books signed and delivered, I’m about to head out the door and drive to my house, but I have a strong impression that leads to the next “coincidence.”

I had written a Scripture reference in Charlie’s book, but I had a strong impression to stop at the table where he was now seated for breakfast with his childhood friend, and ask if I could write another verse in his book. I wrote Isaiah 40:31, “They that wait upon the LORD, He’ll renew their strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles; they will run and not be weary, walk and not faint.” I quoted it to him as I wrote. I don’t really know where Charlie is spiritually, but he looked me straight in the eye and said, “That was written over the door of life support in Ubon Thailand; I walked under it as I headed to fly many missions in Vietnam. It was very meaningful to him. “Coincidence?”

Beautiful, peaceful, quietI told my friends about all this “coincidence” and the Spirit’s leading as we drove through fields and forests to the monastery, sharing our lives and relationships with the Lord. Then as we went to our rooms for the afternoon, I was lead to Matthew 16, and the point where Jesus started to set His face like flint toward Jerusalem, the time of laying down His life for others, even down to this day and to us. It’s recorded in Matthew 16. I read and journaled from Matthew 16:13 through Matt 17:8.

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”” (Matthew 16:13)

Peter gives his famous answer, and enters his famous discourse with Christ.

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 16:16–17)

I read on to Matt 17:8 before going to dinner with the guys.

And lifting up their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus Himself alone.” (Matthew 17:8)

From the prayer book

From the prayer book

After dinner and a little rest, we joined the monks for evening vespers. Guess what Scripture they were singing and reading for their vespers? You got it. Exactly what I had read and journaled about that afternoon–out of all the verses in the Bible? What are the chances? “Coincidence?”

The Lord has a great sense of humor, and He likes to be intimate with His sons.

Among many other things, Ryan heard this, “Relax. Relax.” And later this passage in Eph. 3, saying we are His sons, we should act like it, and believe He will empower us:

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:14–21)

Brian heard among many other things, what the Lord said to Peter after he began to sink at the end of his water walking encounter with Jesus:

Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”” (Matthew 14:31, NASB95)

Again, you are My sons. I will empower you. Why do you doubt?

It seems like a good and valid question, when you’ve come aside and immersed yourself in the Word, focusing on the Lord, sort of like the guys at the transfiguration… they “saw no one except Jesus Himself alone.” But in the world of business and education and life, the wind and the waves can easily get your attention and draw your gaze from the One Who saves.

I wish I could take credit for this outing to “come aside” but the young men I meet with on Thursday mornings to talk about spiritual things, and the Holy Spirit in particular, suggested it, and we put the date on the calendar a few weeks back.

I’ve been to Subiaco Abby serval times before and will be again, Lord willing. I think they’ll be back many times in their futures too. They seem greatly encouraged in what they heard and saw in the spirit during our twenty-four hour stay here. I know I was.

Subiaco Abby, Arkansas

Subiaco Abby, Arkansas

If we will take the time to come aside, rest and listen; perhaps God will take time to meet us and speak? A meaningful, healthy life in our day depends on such.

Remember what the flight attendant says  before every airline flight, “In case of a rapid depressurization, put your own oxygen mask on first; then help those seated around you.”

His blessings as you seek Him,    Dwayne

And He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.” (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.)” (Mark 6:31)

and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’” (Acts 17:26–28)

Synchronicity: “the coincidental occurrence of events and especially psychic events (as similar thoughts in widely separated persons or a mental image of an unexpected event before it happens) that seem related but are not explained by conventional mechanisms of causality ….” Mirriam Webster,     [A few more photos here.]

Friends for Life

Bill & Stephannie at Lake Louise

Bill & Stephannie at Lake Louise

Friendship is such a treasure and a gift from above. There is a whole chapter about it in my recently published book, and of course it’s the major theme even from the title, “A Friend of the King.” Elizabeth and I were blessed in college to find and get to know several special friends, two of which are Bill and Stephannie. Our friendship now spans almost four decades, and although we’ve not often lived close to each other, they moved back to NWA a few years ago and we’ve reconnected. It’s the kind of friendship where nothing has changed; we just take up were we left off. We enjoy each other, and we’re loyal and devoted to each other.

We thought it best to practice on a small Fort Smith train first

We thought it best to practice on a small Fort Smith train

Life brings plenty of challenges, but when you see your friends from way back, continue to grow in their faith, pour into their family, their church, and their community, you really appreciate them more–for standing, for sacrifice, for service, for faithfulness. Noble people you’re happy to call “friends,” and happy they too are friends of the King.

Living as we do in busy times, with busy lives and busy schedules; the desire to be with each other and share the journey has caused us to fight the trend and slow ourselves to spend time together in Fort Smith and Fayetteville. Eventually it led us to get out of town on an epic (in my mind anyway) week trip to Canada, riding the train across the Canadian Rockies of British Columbia and ending up at Lake Louise in Banff National Park of Alberta. The dates were set,  the planning put into motion, and before we knew it we were on our way on a beautiful friendship vacation to enjoy some of God’s most beautiful creation and to hang out together relaxing and resting. What a concept!

British Columbia by rail

British Columbia by rail

What a blessing from the Lord! One for which both couples are very grateful. We can and should enjoy friendship at work and at rest. It gives both activities more meaning and joy. I think it’s something God intended for us to enjoy, and He enjoys with us.

Besides catching up on children, grand children, and the funny ways the Lord has led us and blessed us, we also shared our kingdom activity and interests. The time afforded us windows into kingdom work in each others churches and communities. We heard about the two Ethiopian kids their daughter and her husband have adopted and an orphanage they support through a foundation they started. I shared I had just left Camp Hope the day before, and when we touched down in Vancouver, I received the following text from a friend at the camp which excited them.

Big Horn Sheep

Big Horn Sheep

“Hey brother, thought you might want to know, 19 kids gave their heart to Jesus at camp. The spirit fell heavy on camp at noon on Friday and never left. I had 4 children in front of me at one time, eyes filled with tears, waiting to give their heart to the Lord …. God is so good!!”

Hearing and sharing heart warming reports like this is wonderful. It reminds you of the old saying about friendship. “Friendship divides our sorrow and multiplies our joy.”


Breakfast with Friends

At work or at rest, let’s purpose to do each with friends more and more in the days we have left. I don’t know about you, but in our day I think slowing and resting is probably  more needed.

If you  slow to ask Him, He’ll lead. I recently got acquainted with Psalm 23 anew. It’s clear from this passage that “He leads.” But I noticed that the first thing He does is He  “makes us lie down in green pastures.” He makes us lie down and rest in a beautiful, pleasant place. Sounds inviting doesn’t it? It’s what’s in His heart for us. It’s what He did for us on this trip, and perhaps is doing for you in this season, or wants to. Be sensitive. Be willing. Be listening for His voice and leading. Godspeed as you follow.

"The LORD is my Shepard, I shall not want..."

“The LORD is my Shepard, I shall not want…”

 “For thus the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, has said, “In repentance and rest you will be saved, In quietness and trust is your strength.” But you were not willing,” (Isaiah 30:15)

Postscript: Just after returning from our trip, Stephannie was injured in an exercising accident and broke her right ankle in three places. Please pray for healing and for the family.

Camp Hope 2013

Much planning, much work, much preparation, much prayer and it all came together. Camp Hope 2013, the first Camp Hope is now history, leaving big smiles on faces and in hearts, along with a sense of awe at what God has done.SONY DSC

Who? Forty-one kids, and about thirty volunteer camp staff.

What? A summer camp for underprivileged, at risk kids.

When? July 24-July 27, 2013

Where? Shoal Creek Church Camp, New Blaine, Arkansas

Those are the facts, but what happened there is hard to describe. I should be able to describe it. I was there 3 of the 4 days before honoring another previously scheduled commitment. My main assigned job was camp photographer, so I roamed everywhere taking photos, and observing all the action as different cabins or groups of boys and girls went from activity to activity, enjoying, learning, interacting with each other and the staff. I also baited some hooks, toted some stuff to and around camp, helped with canoeing activities, told some Bible stories, and picked up small amounts of liter here and there. I ate with the campers, slept in a cabin, and worshiped with them at various times. I gave and received many smiles and hugs throughout each action filled but strangely peaceful day, as did the other staff and leaders. I feel like my contribution and part was small compared to the main leaders and volunteers, but important. I’m starting to see that everyone’s gift is important, as is every act of service or act of kindness, especially if it’s freely given from the heart.

SONY DSCBut the fact is I find it hard, if not impossible, to describe what happened here. And that’s what I’m trying to do! I don’t know how to wrap my mind or arms around it? I think the other volunteers would say the same thing? A grin comes to my lips and my heart when I think about it, but not words?

There was plenty of hard work, planning, and action by the three main leaders, Steve, Wendy, and Sue, along with a gifted and giving group of helpers–worship leaders, cooks, counselors, medics, art and music teachers, activity leaders, etc.; but we all have a sense of awe about the whole experience and how it turned out. It’s a sense that the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts.

SONY DSCWe all know, I suppose, that the awe factor was the presence of God at the camp. He’s very good, very big, and moving in all areas of our human experience. When He comes it’s beautiful, peaceful, loving, and joyful to experience, but hard to describe.

Thank you Father, for loving these kids, and adults, and for your Presence at Camp Hope 2013. Amen. אמן A faithful Father and a faithful King you are. In ways seen and unseen, You changed us for good.SONY DSC

 “For how then can it be known that I have found favor in Your sight, I and Your people? Is it not by Your going with us, so that we, I and Your people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?” (Exodus 33:16)

“And He said, “I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the Lord before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.” (Exodus 33:19)



Camp Hope 2013 from Dwayne Bell on Vimeo.