Sapphire Sky

January 28, 2014

Ranger Christianity

Filed under: adoption, love, marriage and family, Ministry, theology, video — Anthony Biller @ 5:21 pm

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”  And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”  Isaiah 6:8

IMG_0106On the side of the church parking lot before a soccer game, Thea Lewis told me they will “rock your world” and implied we would never be the same again.  Sounded like a threat to me.  No. Thea assured that we would find ourselves most blessed.  I wasn’t entirely confident.  Thea and her large family have adopted multiples from overseas and are in the process of adopting another. She’s invested in the adoption community. She told me gritty, hard stories about the difficulties and pain of adoption. Her stories reflected what we heard from others that traveled down the adoption path: struggle, joy, pain, healing, brokeness, happiness, despair, lies, praise … drawing closer to the Lord.  We had committed to host six orphans from Eastern Europe over the holidays and I was scared.

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Our oldest child of four, our 13-year-old daughter, kept asking us when we were going to stop talking about possibly maybe someday adopting or fostering or possibly doing something like that.  It’s time to stop talking and start doing she insisted. She gained access to the children “available” for hosting pages on the Open Hearts and Hands (“OHHC”) and New Horizons web pages and began emailing us pictures of available children from Eastern Europe looking for their “forever family.”  Soon, our other three children joined the search.  They happily offered that our hosting children for a month over the holidays would be their Christmas presents.

So we started reading the pages. Not surprisingly, it was heartbreaking surfing pages of pictures of orphans. Each picture carried a short caption giving insight into these children. Many expressed their desires for hosting – swim in a pool, learn how to pray and ride a roller-coaster were recurring themes.  My wife and I quickly began setting our rules and expectations: (more…)

January 25, 2014

Tommy Burleson’s Advice on Making a Champion

Filed under: Ministry, sports, video — Anthony Biller @ 11:17 pm

Tommy Burleson shared his testimony during the intermission of my son’s photo 2 (1)Upwards Basketball game this morning.  Mr. Burleson played starting center for the 1974 North Carolina State NCAA Championship team. He was the MVP of the 1973 and 1974 ACC Tournaments and was All-Final Four in 1974.  He also played on the US Olympic basketball team and played eight years in the NBA.  He now lives down the road from Raleigh in New Bern, NC.

Mr. Burleson mentioned that at age 14, he was already 6’8″.  Now, at 7’2′ tall, he’s large.  I’m 6’5″ and felt small next to him.  Not a feeling I’ve had much since childhood.

In his testimony, Mr. Burleson shared the importance of building foundations in life. He stressed that Jesus Christ was the foundation for his life.  He spoke of the importance of taking care of the fundamentals, like praying and reading the Bible each day.  He founded and operates the Tommy Burleson Christian Evangelistic Ministry, which supports a medical mission in tiny Malawi, Africa and through which Mr. Burleson operates outreach basketball camps.

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Mr. Burleson also mentioned the impact of his father, a former Army Green beret.  As a former Airborne Ranger with sports active kids, I was interested in his father. Mr. Burleson explained to me that his father was in the elite advance troops that glided into Normandy on D-Day and he served in the Green Berets and on President Truman’s honor guard. His father would wake his son up every morning at 5:30 a.m. so they would work out together, running anywhere from one to three miles each morning.  Sounds like a good idea.

Mr. Burleson was also enthusiastic for the testimony of another former NCSU athlete – Russel Wilson and recommended the following video he and some of his teammates made on the Making of a Champion:

Almost makes me want to cheer for the Seahawks. Almost, but note quite.

January 15, 2014

Convincing my friend Will to pray

Filed under: encouragement, theology — Anthony Biller @ 6:51 pm

The recent holidays several times brought me to my knees, reminding me of the power and importance of prayer inJS Baxter our daily walk, both my own prayer and the prayers of God’s people.  I also learned to put an emphasis on the word “daily” for my walk with God, a point I had known but not really learned before.  More on that and the past several weeks later, Deo volente.  My coming back to the sweet and utter grace of God in His receiving our prayers reminded me of a recent sermon excerpt from my pastor Stephen Davey, which follows for your edification:

J. Sidlow Baxter was a pastor in the early 1900’s. A prolific writer, powerful expositor, Baxter graduated from Spurgeon’s Pastor’s College in London and went on to be used greatly in his generation, on both sides of the pond. His life literally spanned the 20th century – from 1903 to 1999.

He struggle with prayer as a pastor. He let his schedule get in the way of private communion. One morning he took a good look into his heart, and found there was a part of him that did not want to pray and a part that did. The part that did not was his emotions; the part which did was his intellect and will. He writes – and I quote, a rather lengthy page, but we’re finished when I’m through and I believe you will be equally inspired and challenged by this – As never before, my will and I stood face to face. I asked my will a straight question, “Will, are you ready for an hour of prayer?” Will answered, “Here I am, and I’m quite ready, if you are.” So Will and I linked arms and turned to go for our time of prayer. At once all the emotions began pulling the other way and protesting, “We are not coming.” I saw Will stagger just a bit, so I asked, “Can you stick it out, Will?” and Will replied, “Yes, if you can.”

So Will went, and we got down to prayer, dragging those wriggling, unruly emotions with us. It was a struggle all the way through. At one point, when Will and I were in the middle of an earnest intercession, I suddenly found one of those traitorous emotions had snared my imagination and had run off to the golf course; and it was all that I could do to drag the wicked rascal back. A bit later I found another of the emotions had sneaked away with some off-guarded thoughts and there I was in the pulpit, two days ahead of schedule, preaching a sermon I had not yet finished.

At the end of that hour, if you had asked me, “Have you had a good time?” I would have had to reply, “No, it has been a wearying wrestle with contrary emotions and a truant imagination from beginning to end.” What is more, that battle with the emotions continued for weeks. If you had asked me at the end of that period, “Have you had a good time in your daily praying?” I would have had to confess, “No, at times it has seemed as though the heavens were brass, and God too distant to hear, and the Lord Jesus strangely aloof, and prayer accomplished nothing.”

Yet something was happening. For one thing, Will and I were teaching emotions that we were independent of them. In fact, one morning, just when Will and I were going for another time of prayer, I overheard one of the emotions whisper to the other, “Come on, you guys, it is no use wasting any more time resisting; they’ll go just the same.” That morning, for the first time, even though the emotions were completely uncooperative, they were at least quiet, which allowed Will and me to get on with prayer without distraction.

Then another few weeks later, what do you think happened? During one of our prayer times, when Will and I were no more thinking of emotions than of the man in the moon, one of the most vigorous of the emotions unexpectedly sprang up and shouted, “Hallelujah!” at which all the other emotions exclaimed, “Amen!” And for the first time, the whole of my being, intellect, will and emotion –was united in the coordinated operation of prayer.

This is not only our directive . . . this is to be our delight.

More from Pastor Baxter here and here.

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