Monday, October 1, 2012

"Unconditional" & the McCorkles

Anyone who knows this family already knows this, but if you don't, here's what you should know about Brent McCorkle, writer/director of Unconditional, and his wife Kim:

  These guys are not in it for the fame or for the money or for any of the other preconceived notions we may have as to why people get into the entertainment industry. These are people who walk the walk! These are people who have sacrificed much to see God’s message shared with the world.

  “Unconditional” is based on the real-life story of “Papa” Joe Bradford, a reformed convict that spends his days caring for the fatherless children in his neighborhood. The movie’s message is centered on themes like reconciliation, second chances, forgiveness, sacrifice, and the true meaning of unconditional love. And, while these are not themes you typically see in a major motion picture, they manage to come together beautifully in this film! Why? Because the man behind the movie is not only extremely creative, but he is also a man that has walked the walk. This is a man who has spent his life sacrificing to spread the message of God’s redemptive grace and ever-constant love through his music, his relationships and his work. His wife, Kim, has a true servant's heart and an amazing gift with children. To top it off, they are a whole lot of fun!

  I've had the good fortune of personally knowing Brent, Kim and the whole McCorkle/Hinson clan for many years; and I’ve seen their servant hearts, their willingness to sacrifice and their absolute devotion to service at work in my own life.

  Several years ago, my wife Karen and I were on the brink of divorce. A relationship, a home and a family that had taken years to build, was lying broken before us. All hope was gone. And, that’s when the McCorkles stepped in. Even though they had five small children which they were home-schooling, and had a very busy life, they helped us without being asked to do so. During the darkest hours of our life, they stood next to us. They fought for us. They prayed for us. They prayed for our children. They fasted. They counseled. They saw us through tears. They celebrated with us in our progress. Above all, though, they loved us and showed us the ever-present and unconditional love of God. Today, Karen and I stand in immense appreciation of Brent and Kim and their willingness to stand with us and to be used by God to shine a bright light in a dark hour. That experience forever changed our marriage and showed us what true frienship really is. It has also inspired us to be that willing vessel to be used by the Lord for someone else, if given the opportunity.

I’ll never be able to repay Brent and Kim for the sacrifices they made for us. I can, however, tell that you’ll never meet two more faithful, genuine, or devoted people.

Please, if you believe in spreading God’s message of hope and unconditional love, get out right now and see “Unconditional”! You’ll not only be supporting Brent and Kim McCorkle, but you’ll be supporting faith-based movies everywhere. Let’s send the entertainment industry a message that we want to see more beautifully written, inspiring stories centered on the teachings of our Lord and Savior.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

He Had a Plan

From Jesus, CEO, by Laurie Beth Jones:

A franchising consultant once told me, "A good idea is worth one dollar. The plan for implementing that idea is worth a million dollars.”

A good leader has a plan. Jesus had one. He gave clear instructions to his staff members regarding how they could attain their desired results. He also had received a plan that he was working on implementing. He spoke often about how something was either part of or not part of the plan. He did not claim to know all the details, but he certainly saw the big picture and acted on a day-to-day basis according to his inner instructions.

What good does it do to stir up a crowd if you do not give them a constructive outlet for their energy? So few people have plans that people will flock to almost anyone who comes up with a vivid sketch of how something should or could be done.

One of the soundest pieces of advice I received when starting my company was: Plan your work, and work your plan. When I wasn’t feeling particularly bright or courageous, I just did what I had written on my list when I was feeling bright and courageous. Sometimes part of the plan was just showing up. In fact, more than one successful businessperson has confided to me that having a plan is the primary reason for their success. They show up when nobody else does, and they keep showing up. That is part of their plan.

A good leader has a plan that consists of changing simple pictures. Just because a group of people has a bunch of boards, hammers, and nails does not mean that they are building a house or even anything recognizable. Sometimes leaders think they are doing their job just because there is a lot of hammering going on. As a society we like the sound of hammering, but we are uncomfortable with the sound of thinking, which is silence.

Sometimes a plan can start with one simple objective. The civil rights movement was constructed around singular objectives. Sometimes they were as simple as: Make sure blacks do not have to sit in the back of the bus. Equal rights is an intangible idea. It is hard for people to grasp a concept that does not have pictures attached to it. Being forced to sit in the back of the bus creates a picture that people can get excited, angry, or motivated about. The desire to change the picture evolved into a plan.

Jesus had a plan.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

From "3:16 The Numbers of Hope" by Max Lucado

God has really been pushing the idea of LOVE on me lately. Not real sure if there is specific relevance, or this is something I just need to work on in all of my relationships.

From "3:16 The Numbers of Hope" by Max Lucado: As evidence, consider exhibit A: the stubborn love of Hosea for Gomer. Contrary to the name, Gomer was a female, an irascible woman married to a remarkable Hosea. She had the fidelity code of a prairie jackrabbit, flirting and hopping from one lover to another. She ruined her life and shattered Hosea's heart. Destitute, she was placed for sale in a slave market. Guess who stepped forward to buy her? Hosea, who'd never removed his wedding band. The way he treated her you would have thought she'd never loved another man. God uses this story, indeed orchestrated this drama, to illustrate his steadfast love for his fickle people. (Hosea 3:1)

I'm back...

...for a little while anyway.

I don't really enjoy writing, nor do I think I am particularly good at it. I don't think my thoughts and ideas are all that awe-inspiring or interesting. All I can say is that I'm repeatedly drawn back to blogging. I guess, for me, it's a form of journaling; and, a place to share important thoughts and ideas with my children. I'm not always the best at verbal expression, so this gives me a forum to share things I find particularly important or interesting.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Wild Goose Chase

Mark Batterson, the author of a book I am reading, recently requested that people share with him their experiences from the book. I apologize in advance for the length of this post, but felt I should share.
Here is what I wrote about Wild Goose Chase:

I haven’t even finished the book yet, but I’ve already been blown away by what I’ve read. God has been using your work to reveal some amazing things to me.

I’m a police officer in a metropolitan city. I have worked for the same agency for almost 15 years. For the past five or six years, I have been experiencing an incredible season of spiritual growth in my personal life. I’ve had the feeling that God is preparing me to do something incredible for His kingdom. But because he is the An Geadh-Glas, I haven’t really understood what it is he was preparing me for. Of course, I knew I was in good hands, but it’s been a bit stressful to not know what he was planning. I am only five years away from being eligible for retirement, but I knew that he was planning to use me sooner than that. I had the distinct impression that I would be working in the missionary/evangelism field, so I assumed I would have to turn in the badge and gun and go to work for His church.

When I read the description of the “Cage of Responsibility” in chapter one, particularly the words “God-ordained passions tend to get buried beneath day-to-day responsibilities” I suddenly understood what it is that God has been preparing me for. He wants me to do His work, from where I am.

You see, police work is about helping people. You ask almost any police officer why he/she chose that line of work and nine times out of ten the answer will be, “I wanted to help people.” Sure, for most of us, excitement also played a large role, but helping people was the primary reason we chose the work we did.

When I stopped to consider what my God-ordained passion is, what makes me mad, glad or sad, I realized that the thing that gives me the most personal satisfaction is helping people. Unfortunately, however, I had stopped “helping people” a long, long time ago. Sure, I help people. It’s impossible to not help people in the line of work I’m in, but I had long ago stopped including my heart in the process.

There are a number of reasons for this; and, as I continued reading, I realized that each of them fell into one of the Six Cages. As an example, one of the experiences that most negatively impacted me occurred early in my career. At the time, we had a significant gang problem in the area I worked. As it turned out, I came to know a young gang member that wanted out of the lifestyle. We came to know each other well and I began investing a lot of my heart in helping him to turn his life around. To make a long story short, after months of working with this kid, and just when I thought I was making some serious headway, he got arrested for a significant crime he had committed and was subsequently sentenced to a long time in jail. Wow! That really broke my heart! Because of this experience, along with a number of others, I allowed myself to be trapped in the Cage of Failure (I was not able to do enough to help), the Cage of Guilt (I should have done more), the Cage of Assumptions (everyone I tried to help would disappoint me) and the Cage of Fear (If I don’t get involved, I can’t get hurt).

There were a number of lessons that God has been teaching me lately, that came together as a single revelation as I considered what you had written. One of those was a lesson that came from a recent “Wall Builders” episode when one of the founding fathers was quoted as saying that God does not judge us by our results, but rather by the actions behind those results. For me, that means I need to get back to what led me to police work in the first place. When I help people, I feel more in touch with God and with my true self. Sure, there will be a lot of disappointments along the way, but if I can bring even one person to Christ, then I’ve been successful.

What’s even more incredible than the revelation itself is the way God has been preparing me for this revelation for some time. He has put me in a position to be able to do incredible works.

About a year ago, I was transferred to a new position. This was a new position for me, but was also a new position in the department. This position was created to supervise a new unit that would identify the most dangerous parts of the City. Once identified, we would “clean up” the area and apply measures that would lead to lasting change.

For the first six months or so, we were highly successful. Everyone in the city was singing our praises. Then, about a month ago, we were told that we were being too aggressive and need to do more to involve the community. I was devastated. I had invested so much in what we were doing. I had poured my heart and soul into this project for over a year and now I was being told that I was doing it all wrong. I was angry and hurt….until God told me that I needed to let go of my pride. He then followed that up a week or so later by putting your book in my hands. That was when he revealed to me that my critics were right, but that it was OK, because that was all part of his plan.

He suddenly began revealing so many things to me that we could do as a police department to help people improve their lives. Every person I come in contact with as a police officer is a person in need; even the people I arrest. I had long ago quit thinking of “suspects” as people in need. The truth is that those are the people that need the most help. Those are the people in direst need of God’s mercy and grace.

Interestingly enough, at the same time that I was appointed to my new position, I also began working a part-time security job at a very large church in the area that my unit is working in. During my time at the church I have made some amazing contacts that I now understand will be critical to meeting the needs of the community in which we are working.

It’s only been a week since God revealed all of this to me and I’ve already been able to minister to several people in need. One was a suspect I was arresting for running from and fighting with the police. Two weeks ago, I would not have considered this guy worthy of being helped.

I could go on and on for days about how God set me up for this minute when I would read this passage; how much he did to prepare me to receive and put into effect what was revealed to me through your work. Be encouraged in the knowledge that God is using you in some really fantastic ways. I know that God has big plans for me as I learn to escape from the cages that have kept me confined for so long.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

From The Ragamuffin Gospel

This will mean even more to you if you attended church at The Vine Fellowship this morning. What's really crazy is that God put this exerpt on my heart last night.

From The Ragamuffin Gospel

According to an ancient Christian legend, a saint once knelt down and prayed, "Dear God, I have only one desire in life. Give me the grace of never offending you again."
When God heard this, he started laughing out loud. "That's what they all ask for. But if I granted everyone this grace, tell me, whom would I forgive?"
Because salvation is by grace through faith, I believe that among the countless number of people standing in front of the throne and in front of the Lamb, dressed in white robes and holding palms in their hands (Revelation 7:9), I shall see the prostitute from the Kit Kat Ranch in Carson City, Nevada, who tearfully told me she could find no other employment to support her two-year-old son. I shall see the woman who had an abortion and is haunted by guilt and remorse but did the best she could faced with grueling alternatives; the businessman besieged with debt who sold his integrity in a series of desperate transactions; the insecure clergyman addicted to being liked, who never challenged his people from the pulpit and longed for unconditional love; the sexually-abused teen molested by his father and now selling his body on the street, who, as he falls asleep each night after his last "trick", whispers the name of the unknown God he learned about in Sunday school; the death-bed convert who for decades had his cake and ate it, broke every law of God and man, wallowed in lust and raped the earth.
"But how?" we ask. Then the voice says, "They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."There they are. There we are-the multitude who so wanted to be faithful, who at times got defeated, soiled by life, and bested by trials, wearing the bloodied garments of life's tribulations, but through it all clung to the faith.My friends, if this is not good news to you, you have never understood the gospel of grace.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A Word from God

On Wednesday nights, I work a part-time security job at Calvary Church. I've been working there for almost a year now and have met quite a few wonderful people.

Last Wednesday night, one of their newest staff-members (I don't even know his name) was giving a brief word to the congregation before offering a prayer. I usually don't get to hear what’s going on inside the worship center, as I am busy with other tasks. On this particular occasion, however, I felt a tug on my heart to stop and listen. As I listened, this gentleman began to tell the story of Jesus and his disciples in the boat (Luke 8:22-25). This is a familiar story to most of us, but as he spoke about it, for some reason, the story began to come alive for me. As he recounted the fear and apprehension of the disciples during the storm, I realized why God wanted me to hear this message. The gentleman went on to discuss Jesus' response to the disciples; "Where is your faith?" Wow...for some reason, this really struck me. “Why don’t you just trust me?!”

With great enthusiasm and awe, I contemplated this message for the rest of the service. You see, Karen and I are enduring quite a storm of our own right now. Between the stresses of her illness, finances, my job, her job and a myriad of other issues we're dealing with right now, we both are on the verge of being at our wits' end. This simple, but familiar passage was the perfect word for us both.

It didn’t end there, though. As if to drive his point home, God had another message for us both. As I was watching the congregation file out, a familiar face began to pass by. I've never had a conversation with this woman before, but have exchanged greetings with her on numerous occasions. She smiled and waved as she approached. I smiled and nodded back at her, but just as she was about to pass by, she abruptly stopped and turned toward me. It was obvious she had no inclination to talk to me until that very instant. As she approached, she asked "May I share a word with you?" “Of course”, I said, and she began sharing a story with me about a trip she had taken to Lubbock.

She had several friends in the car with her and they were enjoying their conversation so much, that before they realized it, they had passed through and driven 70 miles past their destination. She immediately turned around and headed back toward Lubbock. Apparently, in her panic to get back on time, she began driving a bit faster than she realized. As she looked back in her rearview mirror, she noticed the fast-approaching red and blues of a State Trooper. Several minutes later, she found herself standing on the side of the highway begging for mercy. She was not in a position, financially, to pay a traffic ticket. Her pleas fell on deaf ears, however, as she ultimately received a citation. As she took her ticket and pulled back onto the road, she began to worry about how she could possibly come up with the funds needed to pay the ticket.

She eventually finished her business and returned home, but the worry followed her. When the summons came in the mail, she decided to call the court. She was doubtful that it would help, but thought she would try to plea with them once more. Imagine her shock when the judge herself answered the phone. They had a very brief conversation in which the judge suggested to her the possibility of working the ticket off via community service. She even went so far as to suggest that she donate her time to her church to satisfy the community service requirements.

What a blessing! She ended up donating her time, through Calvary Church, at a nursing home. She said she spent eight hours playing games, reading books and singing to residents of the home. She said that she had so much fun that she is now a full-time volunteer at the nursing home and couldn't be happier.

She said, "I don't know why, but I just know that's a message you needed to hear this week; That God's ways are often strange, but they are always working in your favor!" I told her that she couldn't imagine how incredibly perfect that word was for me at that moment and she replied "Oh yes I do!" With that, she turned and walked away.

And, finally, just to make sure we didn’t miss what he had to say, God finished his word to us with a message from our pastor this Sunday. Pastor David was scheduled to continue a series he had begun several weeks prior entitled “Rediscovering Jesus”. Instead, when he awoke Sunday morning, God told him he needed to change his message. The theme of his new message…….”God is for us and with us in our storms!” How weird is that! Instead of butchering such a wonderful message by paraphrasing it here, I’ll post a link to it when it becomes available.

For those of you that wonder what it means to “hear from God”, this is it. At least for me. These type of things have been happening more and more often to both Karen and I and I can’t even begin to tell you how cool it is! Our God is an awesome God!!!

Do you remember a time when God has spoken to you? I would love to hear your story. Please post your experiences in the comments section.