From the monthly archives:

February 2010

Frozen Point

February 26, 2010

Frozen Point, Tx.

Lat: 29.5410638
Long: -94.5235246

Free entertainment when I was in high school was to hop on the rusty ferry that still plows the bay between Galveston and Port Bolivar.  The 30 minute crossing was really just a boat ride back and forth because the Port was nothing more than a two lane road through the finger peninsula that rode the sand to Crystal Beach.  To this day nothing much happens on the east side of Galveston Bay and unless you’re that unique brand of fisherman who loves to wade with the alligators there is really no reason to venture far.

East Galveston Bay is part of the Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge these days.  Oyster shell and crushed limestone roads (you have to be from Texas) take you to some of the best birding areas in Texas.  In the early days of the state the land was the JHK ranch which ran some 6,000 head of cattle through the salt marshes.  And that’s about the long and the short of it.  Nondescript, barren, inhabited by gators, snakes, grassy swamps and a few head of mosquito-bit cattle… a place only a Texan could love.

Frozen Point juts from the north side of East Galveston Bay and it would be just another empty stretch of shoreline if an event had not transpired on Valentines Day, 1895.  That day marked the shallow waters of the north shore with the forlorn name when a freak snowstorm came across Texas and buried the flats of the Double Bayou in three feet of snow.  The bitter wind chewed through the ranch and drove the cattle south until they reached the northern edge of the East Bay pushing the miserable livestock into the warmer shallows where they drowned by the thousands.

Ralph Semmes Jackson wrote,

“After the storm abated, the men of the family saddled their horses and rode toward the Bay shore, fearful of what they would find.  Reaching East Bay, they saw dead cattle lying so thick in the shallow waters along the shore that a man could walk for several hundred yards out into the Bay on the bodies of the dead cattle.  There was a point of land extending out into the Bay where most of the cattle made their last stand before stepping off into the water to their death.  From that day forward this point of land was known as Frozen Point.” Home on the Double Bayou – Memories of an East Texas Ranch

There are places in life that are marked with names like “Frozen Point,” names that make sense to only a few.  For those whose lives are affected it is an instant flash to a moment in time, like when those cowboys realized it was their livelihood filling the bay in front of them.  Or when the doctor walks in with that look.  Or when the phone rings with the bad news.  Or when the door opens and the State Trooper asks if your name is… from that moment on the moment is marked.  Words like cancer, malignant and chemo certainly fit the bill but beyond those more obvious signposts are those descriptors that define the very deep and private hurt this life will bring.

It is at that place, that “Frozen Point” in life, that God wants to write this epitaph.

God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God,
to those who are called according to His purpose.     Romans 8:28

Many people try to apply this verse to a future that is hoped for instead of a past that is broken.  How often people want to avoid going back to the “Frozen Point” of life, making great detours and keeping emotional contact to a minimum.

This principle takes on life when, without shame, tragedy is placed in the hands of God who causes all things to work for our good.  In my life, lived in the comforting grip of God, His “causing” brings life only when death has finished its course.  He causes, friend.  His touch brings life, His presence guides deliverance, His compassion is new every day.

  • If sin has brought death, His grace-filled forgiveness brings life.
  • If sickness, He visits with lovingkindness better than life.
  • If crushing aloneness, His “never leave, never forsake” companionship leads me through… not around but through.

The Frozen Point becomes a reminder of both a tragedy that scars and of God who heals.

I am sitting in one more waiting room.  Jan has disappeared through another set of doors.  The receptionist is indifferent and bored, her eyes never meet mine when I ask “how long?”   The four hours of infusions, the ongoing battles with the insurance company, the violation of creams, pills and injections and the hour and a half wait for someone she does not know to drill into her hip without a hint of remorse makes this a “Frozen Point.”  It is a place where, someday, God will work it all for good.

A man is talking through an artificial voice box at the desk.  I cannot understand him but thankfully the receptionist can and knows what papers to give him.  He is new to this clinic (The BMA or Bone Marrow Aspiration Clinic), but obviously not new to the horrible things with which this life can surprise us.  I wonder at the strength that presses on whether we know God or not.  The human spirit,  breathed first from God Himself, cannot be measured until it reaches the Frozen Point and slowly continues on.

But for the believer there is so much more.  Beyond “the indomitable human spirit” there is faith given to those who fully trust in God’s plan.  It is the single most enduring heavenly or earthly force and is gained by looking up instead of soldiering on.  The eyes of faith sees God and His “causing” and knows that He alone turns all of this to work for good.

And so it can be in your life.  It is God at work, willing and doing His very good pleasure for those who trust in Him.  Yes, friend.  Even at Frozen Point.



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Singing Lessons

February 15, 2010

“The Valley of Achor as a door of hope…  She shall sing there.”

Hosea 2:15

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The violin can either be the most violating sound known to man or the most mystical sound that melody can inhabit.  Mai’s playing was the latter and our home would overflow with the most beautiful sounds when she played.  In the quiet hours of the morning, the winsome violin accompanied by her voice drifted from the upstairs bedroom where she stayed.  Her fingers never failed her voice.  They were one, linked by some hidden strings in a world of harmonies just this side of heaven.

As difficult as the violin is to master, the voice is much more.  There is no fret to run a finger over or key to press, no cymbal to hit.  It is an organic instrument that is only mastered when the ear and the voice mysteriously become one.  To sing notes accurately and beautifully is one of the most admired gifts in every generation but to join that with the skill of an instrument is a wonder. And when a person melds the beauty of the melody with voice, tempo and harmony all else falls silent.  In those few moments, whether in a concert hall or a crowded city street, the soul links arms with the music and joins with a gift from heaven.

She had ignored the beautiful instrument for years, shelving her voice along with it.  Few knew the story of her broken life that had silenced it all.  When she would open her mouth and the fingers would seamlessly drift over the neck of the violin, few knew where the gift had gained the grace.

There are only a few times in life that you are invited to behold transformation in such a dramatic and consequential way.  Talented people are all around and in every area of life but when talent meets adversity the chance for a new harmonic is given.  Before all the heartache she had talent, but now she has passion.  Now she sang for Him.

She found her voice in the darkest moments of life.  Believe it or not, that is God’s plan for His people.

His name was Achan and his thievery caused death and discouragement to all of Israel.  He was buried under a pile of stones along with his family, possessions and the stolen goods he robbed from God (see Joshua 7).  The valley where he was stoned to death was named “Achor” meaning “trouble” and it was also the burial plot of the innocence and naivete of the children of Israel.   No longer would Israel assume blessing and victory.  Humble listening and the fear of the Lord was the new order of the day.

As the generations passed Israel’s infidelities became legendary.  The prophet Hosea was sent to speak the awful pain of God’s heart over His wayward bride.  In the midst of His anguish, the painful voice of God suddenly changes with these words,

“I will bring her into the wilderness and speak kindly to her.
Then I will give her her vineyards from there,
and the valley of Achor for a door of hope and she shall sing there.”
Hosea 2:14-15

The church today often separates the God of Holiness from the God of Grace.  To choose only holiness determines a life of legalism and judgement of others.  To choose only grace denies instruction and is blinded by emotionalism.  You cannot know God by only knowing the facet of His character that fits your bend.  God becomes like you instead of you becoming like God.

Hosea’s message was filled with both.  God told Israel that they would indeed be judged for their infidelity… He would “bring her into the wilderness” but it was there that “the Valley of Achor would be a door of hope.”

God still allures His children into the wilderness in order to discipline and correct abhorrent and sinful behavior.   But notice this, God does not first promise deliverance.  Instead He states that, “The Valley of Achor… the Valley of Trouble… will be a Door of Hope” and “she shall sing there.”

Prayer meetings today include many prayers for deliverance from trouble.  There is a reasonable expectation that trouble is orchestrated by the enemy yet it is God that teaches us to sing His songs in the midst of it all.  To be used by God you have to find your voice in the wilderness, only then will your life sing with a testimony of grace.   In the Valley of Trouble you learn to master the melody of grace that softens the minor notes of pain and suffering.

Mai returned to school after several years of being a part of our family.  She met a godly man, married and has since had two children.  This spring, they are stepping out into a dream they have held for the past years of moving to Lebanon and continuing a ministry to Muslims begun in Dallas.  Her music is heard around the world through television and CD’s but it is not the gift that is heard, it is the voice she found in the darkest moments of life.  The voice and gift given to an audience of One.

Choose to master the melody of His grace, friend. It is in the dark valleys that the songs of hope are learned.



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Woman At The Well

February 9, 2010

It was just another day. The dusty road that led from the village to Jacob’s Well was so familiar she could almost walk the distance without opening her eyes. Every day at noon she padded down the path to fetch the water needed at the little shack where she stayed. It was just another day […]

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Great News!

February 8, 2010

Jan and I have great news to report.  She was released from the hospital on Thursday (2/4/10)  a full two weeks ahead of schedule!  This news came as a complete surprise to us and we recognize it as a direct answer to the prayers that have been offered continually across the globe on Jan’s behalf. […]

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Greater Grace

February 4, 2010

For the grace of God has appeared… teaching us…” The music from the ipod dock syncs with the sounds of the day-in-day-out IV drip and professional voices in the hall.  It is Sunday and grace surrounds us. She’s next to me in the 3×6 hospital bed that has become her world these past weeks.  Her […]

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