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January 2015 entries

Could It Have Been Divine Protection?

I have been researching a current spiritual awakening in our world. God is appearing to Muslims all over the world in dreams and visions. The stories are incredible. In countries where the gospel is not allowed to enter, or in countries where Christianity is only moderately tolerated; Christ is appearing to men and women in dreams and visions.

I first learned of this when the past president of the Southern Baptist Convention's International Mission Board spoke at Dallas Bay. At Dinner I asked him what was the most amazing thing God was doing in the world of missions. He said that Muslims were coming to our missionaries asking about this man in shining robes who was appearing to them in dreams. That was nearly 10 years ago and it seems to be proliferating.  

While reading the most recent edition of the "Voice of the Martyrs" magazine I saw a book advertised. It was on this very subject written by Tom Doyle who has been the head of another mission organization in the Middle East for many years. He has been told these stories for the last decade. He estimates in his book that as many as 1 out of 3 new converts to Christianity from Islam are having these visits by Jesus before converting to faith in Christ. In the dreams He comes to them in their sleep, but in visions Jesus is literally appearing to them to speak or warn them of impending doom. I read these stories with particular interest since a similar, but different thing happened to me last November. Here's my story:

I had traveled with a friend to Las Vegas to make a major check off my bucket list. I am a huge car guy and I have wanted to go to the SEMA show for years. This is the biggest after market auto accessories show in the world by far. There are customized cars as far as the eye can see. It takes days to just see a portion of it and over 100,000 people attend each year. Well there I was in Vegas with one friend who traveled with me and was meeting another the next day. So the second day in town the other friend arrived and we went straight to the show and then hours later to dinner. When we finally got back to the room the other two guys were ready to call it a night. I, however, was still pumped full of adrenaline and could not sleep. So I told the guys that I was going to walk down the street further than we had yet ventured and see what we might have missed. (Contrary to popular belief there is not a strip club on every corner. But there are beautiful buildings, fountains, art and some of the strangest people on the street than you have ever seen.)

I walked out of our hotel and took a right. I merged with the flow of pedestrians and set out for sights unknown. It happened in a split second. I heard someone coming up behind me making one of those strange mid-eastern vocalizations "yidee-yidee-yidee." (Say that as fast as you can repeatedly and it begins to resemble what I'm talking about.)  Then before I could turn around it got even stranger. Someone jumped on my back. I instinctively grabbed the persons legs and held on as they wrapped around my waist. Being the father of two boys I was conditioned to respond to this action to keep the boys from falling on their back. Then it registered that no one I knew was anywhere near me. I actually walked several feet holding on to this unknown rider.

When I finally turned around to see this person on my back I came face to face with someone of obvious middle eastern descent. He was a young man who appeared to be in his early thirties with dark hair and dark eyes. What was strange was that on his face was a huge smile. There was no smell of cigarettes or of alcohol on his breath. He smiled at me, dropped to the ground and turned to merge with fellow pedestrians. In a moment he had disappeared into the crowd. I stood there stunned for a moment and then began to do what most of you would do. I checked for my wallet and phone. I wasn't concerned because of his appearance; I was suspicious of his strange behavior. Patting my back pocket I was relieved to find that my wallet was still there. Reaching into my front pocket I felt for my cell phone. It was there too. Nothing had been stolen. I checked my hands for blood as I wiped them across my neck and arms and lower back. No blood. I hadn't been attacked.

Sort of in a daze I began slowly walking on the path I was taking before the strange incident had occurred. I stopped in just a few steps. The place all this had happened just a few moments ago was still clearly in view. I began to realize another strange thing. No one else had reacted to the bizarre event. They walked on by as if they had seen nothing or no one. I began  walking back the opposite way back to my hotel. As I passed by a security guard in front of one of the casinos I stopped to ask how often something like this happened on the strip. He told me he had never heard of such a thing before. His only advice was if it were to happen again I should "deck the guy."

I told my friends about it the next morning. We all had a good laugh. But in the back of my mind I kept asking what this was all about. I had almost forgotten about the event until I read in the book "Dreams and Visions" about Christ coming to certain  people to warn them of impending trouble. I began to piece the scenario together again. There I was alone walking on a street I had never been before. I did not know what was around the next corner. Was there someone there waiting for a person obviously alone? Could I have been walking into trouble? Could it be that He really is my ever present help in time of trouble even when I don't know the trouble is just around the next turn?

I do not presume to know exactly what happened and who, or Whom, that person was. I only know they did no harm. They could have done me a great deal of good. And I will always remeber the smiling face over my shoulder.

Hebrews 13:2 (NKJV)
2 Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.



A Wild Ride

January marks an important milestone in my life. Twenty-five years ago I left my job in IT and became the pastor of Dallas Bay Southern Baptist Mission. It is now most often referred to as just "Dallas Bay."It has been an incredible journey.

I began thinking back on all the wonderful people Christ has sent my way who have helped so much. Words spoken at just the right time; cards that were left on my desk in the midst of a crisis; texts that were encouraging and uplifting; all seemed to know exactly what was happening and what I needed at the time. I'm thankful for the Holy Spirit Who knows my heart and shares it with the right people at the right time.

I think back at all the decisions I had to make that could potentially effect so many people's lives. I haven't always done the right thing. Sometimes I erred on being too harsh or demanding. Other times I erred on the side of being too soft and naive. Still sometimes, not as often as I would like to believe, I got it right. As I was reminded lately, many members of the Baseball Hall of Fame barely got a hit one out of every three times they were at bat and most struck out twice as many times as they knocked it out of the park. Tht's encouraging.

The greatest blessing has been seeing God redeem and resurrect fractured and hurting people through the ministry of Dallas Bay. What a privilege I have had being a small part in such a wonderful venue for God's amazing grace. Many of you who read this blog were receipients of His grace through this great church.  I rejoice with you for the incredible things He has done.

It is only right to reflect at such a time as this. However, it is wrong to only look to the past. I pray that God continues to bless and prosper Dallas Bay for many years to come. I hope that He allows me to enjoy this wild ride for a while longer. I hope to see you Sunday.