Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Onions, float trips and cowboys

June installment

I have been preoccupied with spring and have not posted a blog in a while. I thought I would take today (a rainy Tuesday morning) to get back to it. One of the most interesting things I have been involved with lately is a three day float trip down the Buffalo River in Arkansas. The summer Killingsworth float down the Buffalo was trouble and rain free. It was as good as floats can be. The scenery, clean water, nature sounds water of frogs and Whippoorwills and the amazing gourmet food packed by Valerie, Gail and Vickie made the experience a pure joy. Our grandson Jason was on his first float trip and his reluctance to experience things soon turned into a mad dash into the next adventure. He amazed me at his courage, endurance and spirit. His mother insisted he ride with me assuming he would be in the safest canoe, but the only canoe that turned over was mine. I was honored by the confidence Keri placed in me, but Jason would have been safer in any other canoe it turns out. Jeremy loves to tell how Jason was being swept away by the current and cried out for help. Jake swam to him and restored him to safety and insisted that he float down the current again just for fun. It was just a few moments later that Jason said, “Oh, do we have to go – I want to do it again”. His experience changed from panic to pure joy in the same fast water in a matter of minutes. Watching him go from fear to fun made the trip for me. He did things we have agreed to tell his mother about in 5 to 10 years.

Summer is settling in now and the garden is amazing again this year. The rains have come as if on schedule and because of my semi-retirement I have been able to stay ahead of some of the weeds. I have never been able to raise onions of any size. I lamented the fact to an Amish gardener and learned the secret to raising big onions. I expected to hear of odd mixtures of chicken and horse manure or of some secret concoction used only by garden insiders, but she said, ”Plant Vidalia’s and put a lot of Miracle Grow on them. So I bought some Miracle Grow and was she ever right! I have the biggest onions I have ever raised. Now I have to admit I was a little taken aback when I heard her secret. I thought she would be all organic and stuff, but you never know! You never live long enough to learn everything.

Speaking of learning – I have learned something else recently. Simple is best! I am completely amazed at the simple power, growth and strength of the Cowboy Church. I never dreamed it would become what it has. I would have thought in years to come that it might reach a couple of hundred people, but at a recent event over 500 people attended. Each week around 500 people attend one of the three services and this is summer. I expect to see even more in the fall.

This summer I am preaching through the book of Acts and I see many similarities between the early church and the Cowboys. We have nothing and God is powerful among us. We meet in a barn and God shows up. I have challenged the Cowboys to give 50% of our income away, and put it back in the community where people have needs. They have bought in to the challenge and are giving with such abundance we are not being able to keep up with our goals yet. Recently a man who had not been in church in 60 years started attending. His life change is observable and contagious. This man had to have surgery recently and while he was in the hospital some of the cowboys (one of whom had only been attending for 3 weeks) went to his home and installed a new commode for him. The unity, generosity and joy among the Cowboys out-distance everything I have ever witnessed in my ministry. There is something to be said for simplicity and dependence on God. I was ready to give up on the organized church, but the cowboys have salvaged me.

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