Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Punctuation of Death

!  It started with an exclamation point. The phone rang at 10:41 PM on January 25, 2018. It was my son's wife, Jamie. And in a short seven minutes and forty-one seconds, the events that had taken place around 6:30 that evening were described after an opening remark of "I am sorry to have to be the one to tell you this...James had an accident on his four wheeler tonight and he is gone!" 

It was enough to take away your breath and wrap my mind around what I just heard. Immediately, the question mark formed and lingered for days. How and why this happened seem to dominate the process as the story emerged. As we traveled to the site of the accident, the beauty of the mountain was hard to appreciate. As we talked with the neighbor who had preformed CPR and whispered "stay with us, James", "don't leave us, James" for twenty minutes and watched emergency personnel shock him only to announce that there was no pulse, He described how James had worked through the day with Google Cloud co-workers and had ridden the four wheeler over in the fresh air to his house and discussed ideas for his "personal work thoughts" for the future. Jamie left for home and in about ten minutes called back to see if James had left. She retraced her path home down the drive to the paved road that connects them to their neighbors. It was there that she found him in the road. As others tried
to save him, what seemed to be fifty people, she had to face the reality of the punctuation of the period of death. 
. , : ; # I'm not sure how long it takes to accept the finality of death. I know for me and his mother, Vicki, that we have tried to be present for important events: some were commas that introduced new chapters, some were semi-colons that make you pause for a turn or a major change. These other punctuation events included pitching rotation in early baseball games, the effect of art awards in high school, his first girlfriend, first car, first job "Brothers Lawncare" including first riding mower and a flood of other events. Saying "goodbye" in some of the semi-colons; to Baptist Bible College in Springfield; waving "goodbye" in the Oklahoma City airport as he headed to Air Force basic training, hugging him at his wedding as we said "goodbye" to the young man who was now a family man.  Then there was the "phone interview" with Microsoft and the later "transition" to Google...
‒  Within a day of hearing the news of James death, Vicki started putting together a photo album, ironically in Google+ photos, that she labeled with the date of his birth and the date of his death. When I first saw it, what stood out first was the dash between the dates.
For now, I am relishing "the dash". James 4:14 "For what is your life? It is even as a vapor that appeareth for a little time and then vanisheth away" Life is so brief. 38 years is also the time we had. The first 18 were in close proximity with the last 20 full of "long distance" relationship and as James often said "crazy busy" times of work and travel, ups and downs and laughter and tears. But the pictures only convey moments and seem to fall short of the flood of memories that we are trying to hold on to. I am so glad he was part of "our dash".
Love you and miss you, son. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

"You Are Too Old To Be a Missionary?!"

"You Are Too Old To Be a Missionary!" is what Gene Willcut was told when first arrived at Baptist Bible College in his 30's. After he pleaded to get the missionary instruction he needed to go win folks in Mexico was then given, he and Dorthy spent 31 years on the mission field where he started 30 churches. Many souls came to Christ because he determined that they were not "too old" to serve God! He invested in developing leadership, building buildings, and discipling believers. His focus was: winning people to Christ and establishing churches. 

He and Dorthy were approved by the Baptist Bible Fellowship to go to Mexico in 1961 and retired in

As Gene and Dorthy's pastor when I was in Altus (1994-2003) I would have to say they were one of the most godly couples I have ever known. Their prayer life and godly advice certainly will always be remembered. It was such a joy to go by his house where Dorthy would greet me in her own special way, invite me in and then excuse herself because she would say "the men need to talk". I am sure there was a great reunion this week in heaven with each other and many who are there because of their lives and testimony for Christ. 

Gene Willcut passed away February 14, 2008 and Dorthy Willcut passed away Tuesday, July 2, 2013 in Iowa where she was living with her daughter. The following is a video of their work in Mexico. Thank you for giving to the Lord... I am a life that was changed!

Thursday, June 20, 2013


 Bro. Gerald Cheney went home to be with the Lord this past Wednesday (June 19, 2013). We are so thankful for him and Mrs. Cheney  and the ministry they had at Great Lakes Baptist Temple.
Rev. Gerald Cheney was born in Arkansas. He is one of a family of three boys, He attended the public schools in Lafayette County, and graduated from Bradley High School.  At the time of his surrender to full time ministry, he was residing in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Upon accepting the call for Christian service, he enrolled at the Baptist Bible College in Springfield, Missouri, where he was to take an active role in the class leadership and various projects. 
In 1958, he graduated from Baptist Bible College with a Th.G Degree, and resigned the pastorate of the Calvary Baptist Church of Nixa, Missouri to accept the position of Youth Director at Jacksonville Baptist Temple in Jacksonville, Florida. After a fruitful ministry in this capacity, in June of 1959, Pastor Gerald Cheney left Beaver Street Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida, with little money in his pocket but with a huge burden on his heart. He believed that God had called him to establish an independent, Bible-believing, Baptist church in Tampa, the West Gate Baptist Church, where he ministered for over eight years.
In 1966, he became pastor of the Grace Bible Baptist Church (Great Lakes Baptist Temple), Flint, Michigan, and was been actively engaged in the work of the church and the Baptist Bible Fellowship International, for in addition to serving as pastor of the church, he also served as a Director of the Baptist Bible Fellowship. His ministry at Great Lakes included building the facilities on Maple and Saginaw in 1974 and he continued to serve as pastor until February of 1976. He and Judy were able to return for the building re-dedication in November 2011. We will always remember our contact with him and his love for our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Friday, April 8, 2011

Word of the day: VISION

There is nothing like the passion of a God honoring, church strengthening, heart thumping vision. More than just some childhood dream or short-lived amusement park thrill ride, it is, according to Bill Hybels, "the fuel that leaders run on, the energy that creates action, the fire that ignites the passion of its followers". Jesus saw clearly the will of the Father in the "joy that was set before Him", Abraham looked for a city "whose builder and maker was God", Moses chose to "suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season", Nehemiah looked past the rubble of the walls and led a nation in a glorious rebuilding project, John, though exiled, was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day and given the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ! And then there is Paul: his vision of preaching the Gospel to the gentiles of Rome took him as far as a person can go... to death... of which he said "for me to live is Christ and to die is gain".
A vision without a task is a dream;
A task without a vision is drudgery;
A vision with a task is the hope of the world!
Today is a good day to ask God for a vision of some task that you can do for Him that will require your complete reliance upon His enabling power to accomplish it well.
"Where there is no vision, the people perish" Proverbs 29:18

Friday, January 21, 2011



ugust 12, 2000. The day a new privilege and responsibility began. My FIRST grandchild was born. The greatest discovery that day was an unrealized newfound love in my heart. A new role also was impressed upon me of the high and holy calling from God to be a part of influencing the future.
“But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children; To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them.”

his day changed my prayer concerns as well. My prayers already involved my desire to develop a deeper walk with Christ for myself as a partner, as a parent and my role as a father, as a pastor, the flock and my ministry. Now my family concerns are greatly expanded and intensified. The prayer for my children and grandchildren’s needs include:

  • Salvation, that they will come to know the Lord at an early age
  • Sanctification, a pure relationship with God and growth in grace
  • Satan’s reality, protection from the evil one
  • Strength of character, health in mind, body and spirit
  • Separation from worldly wisdom to a godly discernment of good and evil
  • Singularity of life purpose and calling
  • Spouses that are good life partners and wisely choosing godly companions
  • Serving God and His church with an active love for God

oday, we are on the verge of having our twelfth (an even dozen grandchildren), the last of which is known only to me as the “Little One” in my prayers. My love has already begun to well up in my heart for this one as well. I am thankful to my grandparents for turning the direction of our family around for God and have seen how God blesses those who follow Him. Psalm 103:17,18 reminds us “But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children; To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them.”
t is my firm belief that we can make a difference as grandparents, regardless of the ungodliness of our culture. An encouraging reminder is given by David Jeremiah in “Family Factor” as he makes reference to grandparents’ influence in history.
he Bolshevik Revolution took place in Russia in 1917, resulting in what became the Communist Soviet Union. Until that rule imploded in the late 1980’s, the faith of Russian Christians was severely tested by the atheistic Communist government. It is said that during the 70 years of Soviet rule, it was the grandmothers of Russia, the babushkas, who kept the faith alive. They were the ones who kept faith and hope alive in the darkest days of repression. Many of them obviously died before the Soviet empire collapsed, but their faith did not die with them. They taught their children and grandchildren so that, when conditions allowed, a vibrant church emerged from the ruins of Soviet atheism.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

"Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." -Proverbs 3:5,6

As another year begins, this is a good time to go back to the building blocks of faith in God: TRUST. We all have to trust in something or someone to help us through the storms of life. God has proved Himself trustworthy time and time again. This coming year is no different. I am so thankful that God has led my path this far and am thankful that God has promised to direct my steps throughout the coming year!

Thursday, December 23, 2010


As we enjoy this year’s Christmas celebrations, it is truly a time to be thankful for Jesus’ birth. I have always tried to make it clear to our children (and now grandchildren) on Christmas morning before the gifts are handed out that the reason we are celebrating is the birth of Jesus Christ. We would even take time each year to read the story once again and offer a prayer of thanksgiving for the greatest gift of all, God’s own Son.

It is wonderful once again to enjoy the beautiful decorations and carols echoing and ringing joyfully in places around the world. One of those carols that we sing is “Joy to the World” written by Isaac Watts more than 250 years ago. However, he did not intend for it to be a Christmas song, but music to announce the Second Coming of Christ and His kingdom rule. Remember some of the words? “Joy to the world! the Lord is come; Let earth receive her king.… No more let sins and sorrows grow.… He rules the world with truth and grace.…” This is really a song of the Millennium—a reminder that the Babe who came the first time in a manger will return the second time as King of Kings and Lord of Lords! Even so come Lord Jesus!