Thank You for Giving to the Lord
Music and Lyrics by Ray Boltz
I dreamed I went to Heaven, you were there with me.
We walked upon the streets of gold beside the Crystal Sea.
We heard the angels singing, then someone called your name.
You turned and saw this young man, and he was smiling as he came.
He said, “Friend you may not know me now,” and then he said, “But wait-
You used to teach my Sunday School, when I was only eight.
And every week you would say a prayer before the class would start.
And one day when you said that prayer,
I asked Jesus in my heart.”
Thank you for giving to the Lord,
I am a life that was changed.
Thank you for giving to the Lord,
I am so glad you gave.
(This touching song concludes with the lines:)
And I know up in Heaven you’re not suppose to cry
But I am almost sure there were tears in your eyes
As Jesus took your hand and you stood before the Lord
He said “My child look around you,
Great is your reward”
The people I want to say thank you to obviously were giving unto the Lord and were giving by faith because when some of them invested in me there was no guarantee of a positive ROI (Return on Investment). And even as I say thank you I do not want to give the impression that I am some great “world changer”, because I am not. I am no “big shot”, I am just a “little shot” who keeps shooting and every now and again we hit a good target. But the names you see listed, went out of their way to impact me. They taught me the Word of God, They confronted me about the sins in my life, and the tried to draw out of me some of the gifts God put into me. Each of them had to overlook a ton of flaws and weaknesses to stay with me and I am so glad they did. When I made mistakes they didn’t treat me as if I had done a permanent job of it! Life comes at you fast says the recent insurance commercial and regretfully some of these dear people haven’t been told for a decade or two a sincere thank you. So I say Thanks, I was touched by your generosity, thanks for the sacrifices you have made, and know that your efforts did not go unnoticed nor will they go unrewarded. I am forever grateful. In a world that can care less, you acted like you couldn’t care for me more. I love you for loving me. Thank You!
“Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned, they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated-the world was not worthy of them.”
Jesus said: “Go and make disciples” Matthew 28:18-20, and I am sincerely grateful to the people God intentionally brought into my life. Each one invested themselves into me and enriched me tremendously. I am also indebted to every coach and teacher who took the time with me to help me improve and to become a better person. In life there are givers and takers the ones I have listed are givers.
I plan to add a few comments about each one of them in the month’s to come. Each one of these dear people loved the Word of God, believed in prayer and wore the CROWN of Christ-like character. None of them were perfect, and i even picked up on their weaknesses and bad habits, but each of them had the courage to speak into my life, and we are all grateful for that.
People Who Changed My Life:
A friend from my Grand Island Senior High class of 1975. Ironically we were baptized as infants in the same Methodist church service in 1957, and Tom would be instrumental in helping me come to know Jesus as my Personal Savior
Upon graduating from high school and lacking any clear direction in life, God put me on Tom’s heart and he helped get me to join him and Doug Battles for a trip to colorful Colorado for a Fellowship of Christian Athletes camp in Granby Colo. Tom came to visit me while I was working at Don’s Skelly Gas service station at the Corner of 7th and Eddy in G.I.. He asked if I had asked Don for the time off from work to go to camp and I hadn’t got around to it. So Tom marched right up to Don the owner of the service station and asked for me. Thanks to Tom’s boldness I went with the guys to that camp and it was there I began believing in Jesus.
That was a good summer of spiritual growth for me, and Tom helped me get involved in Bible Studies and fellowship groups. God used Tom in my life in a variety of ways, but the best way was his example of walking with Jesus. For parts of three years Tom was my dorm mate and I watched him integrate his faith into his studies and his relationships. I then began to mimic his prayer and devotional life. We enjoyed doing lots of evangelism, discipleship and service events together. He was my go-to wide receiver when we played flag football and we connected on lots of touchdowns. He was really fast and I would throw the ball out in front of him, our best route was the “down, out, and up”, yes those were the days.
God gave me a good start in my spiritual walk with Tom’s friendship. There were a lot of rough edges in my life at the time we began doing ministry, but Tom remained a loyal friend regardless. He is living a life worthy of imitation and today he is the Pastor of the Faith Evangelical Free Church in Rio Rancho New Mexico.
Phil was a farm boy from Aurora Nebraska who grew up in a loving Christian family and went to a solid evangelical church. Phil had absolutely nothing in common with me. He was a good student; he was a Teacher assistant and tutored people in English while English seemed like a foreign language to me. If I would have known then that I would eventually become a writer I would have taken writing instruction from him. But, when you are young you are only looking at the next mountain to climb and not the whole map. I lived in the Gym and he seemed at home in the library. His friends all packed Bibles in their bags, and my friends were all trying to sneak into the bars.
I met Phil while he was following up some of the freshmen guys who had attended a Campus Crusade event. He was knocking on their dorm room doors and sharing a spiritual life survey with them. Having recently come to know Jesus I barged in on their conversations and asked if I could take the survey too, I wanted to see how I measured up spiritually. I could tell I was a nuisance but Phil responded to my need and helped me get started right in my new spiritual life.
Even though we were a strange pair, Phil gave himself to me in a variety of ways. He gave me some basic life-coaching and introduced me to some good people. They even had B.Y.O.B. parties. Instead of these being typical “Bring Your Own Beer” college parties, these folks had “Bring Your Own Bible” parties and we really did have spontaneous Bible discussions and I loved every minute of it. Phil even took me to his home church and had me share my conversion story, and took me on his dorm visits and taught me how to share the good news. It was providential that I got to do evangelism early in my walk because the gift of evangelism and passion for it was nurtured in those prime college days. It was a huge blessing to see how Phil trusted God for his wife Leann and how he waited for her to finish he school across the country. It is a blessing when a man of God lets a younger man in on his personal life. God thank you for Phil, he really was a great guy even if he wasn’t a good basketball player. It was good for me to see a relationship center in on something other than sports and ours was centered on our commitment to Jesus. I understand that Phil is a Pastor in the Washington state area and I hope he finds out how I appreciate him.
Steve was the Director of the Kearney State Campus Crusade ministry. I know that he saw in me a lot of raw energy and some leadership ability. Steve really did try to help me learn how to administrate a ministry but I was a poor disciple. Steve took time with me and taught me and our leadership team some great Bible lessons that have stayed with me. I was the student president of this campus ministry and looking back with 20/20 hindsight I can now see that “hands were laid on me” way too soon. I needed more spiritual development before I was put in to a leadership position. I didn’t understand how to say ‘no’ to anything and in my new found enthusiasm for God I allowed myself to be stretched to thin. During this segment of time I was a leader in the campus ministry at Kearney State but I also had a group of High School students back home in the Methodist Church in Grand Island I was teaching Sunday School and had a small group of guys. On top of that I was trying to reach out to my family and at this time only my sister Sue had come to Jesus. I often wonder how I ever did any school work, and the day came when Steve had to remove me from leadership because I wasn’t keeping my commitments, I didn’t know how to take this set back. Because I was now finding my identity in these “ministry positions” and not purely in Jesus I took this discipline as a rejection and responded poorly. I have often thought about the struggles of those days, and I have become much more aware of my need for balance and to live out of only one identity, the identity of Jesus who is my life. (Colossians 3:4)
After I had a run in with Steve the director of Campus Crusade Miles showed up in my dorm room and said: “Sid, you need to learn how to pray.” What is unusual about Miles is that in looking at him he would be the last person I would take that from. Miles was barely a hundred pounds soaking wet. But, Miles was a powerful man of the word and of prayer. I quickly came to respect Miles and let him speak into my life. I’ve seen him confront “in love” football players more than twice his size and lead them to Jesus. The irony of ironies with Miles is that we spent some of our mentoring time lifting weights and this little guy became a champion weight lifter for his weight bracket. God has been faithful to me to put the right people in my life at just the right time and Miles was heaven sent. When I went back to Kearney to become a Youth and College Pastor I was hoping to reconnect with Miles, but this never transpired, Miles I love you and you gave me so much, I still have a book of yours and I remember you and Dee often. God bless you richly.
Pastor Paul Nauman, Dr. Gary Jackson Oliver and Ken and Lila Kramer:
I was blessed to have some wonderful evening Bible study times sitting on the floor of Ken and Lila Kramers Aurora Nebraska farm house living room with thirty to forty other kids listening to Paul or Gary go through the Bible Verse by Verse. They would teach for an hour or so and I always hated for these Bible studies to end. The Word was alive and these guys loved it, and knew the author personally. God used these studies to change my life and impart a love for the Word to me. As I look to my future I hope to be able to have similar experiences. The summers I sat at their feet we studied the Book of Joshua and Colossians. I can’t look at those great Bible books with out smiling and thinking back to those days at the farm house. Those guys poured themselves into teaching the Word of God and I was privileged to learn from these men of God. Who would have thought that between the hedges of corn rows we would gather and so many of us would see the Word take hold of us and head for the ministry. Several from that group are now serving in pastoral positions or in a variety of mission fields. For over thirty years Paul has made a weekly excursion to Grand Island to lead a similar Bible study for my parent’s home group. I will never despise or think low about what God can do from a humble living room. Lord please do it again!
Even though I wasn’t a very good college student, I responded to God’s call to go into the ministry and to prepare myself I needed a seminary education. Gary Oliver observed that there was a group of guys in this same boat so he put together a ski trip out to Colorado and a visit to the Denver Seminary. While at the seminary I meet Harold Westing who is a professor of Christian Education. Harold really took an interest in me and promised me that if I came to the school he would take me under his wing and mentor me. In a world where there are so many promise breakers, Harold kept his word and took time with me every week. God used Harold to help me see that studying Christian Education was in reality a study about discipleship. I can’t imagine a better preparation time for my life. Harold and the whole school really helped me learn the Word of God and how to make the applications of truth to life. Because so many of my professors cared for me so sincerely by the time I graduated I had become a good student.
When I challenged Harold to take more time with me he was up to the challenge but he said: “well then you are going to have to play golf and racquetball.” He then went on to mentor me in lifestyle evangelism and discipleship on the course and in the court. I will be forever grateful that he got me swinging again. I have had the joy of reaching out to hundreds of folks thru sports and if it wasn’t for Harold I might have kept the clubs in my parent’s garage. It is hard to imagine but after I came to Jesus I didn’t play golf for years, I didn’t have time for it, and I didn’t think it was a spiritual use of time, Harold thanks for setting me straight and getting me out to the fairway!
Dr. Richard Maurer
Having been seriously disappointed by the moral failure of a previous pastor I could have slipped into disillusionment if my next mentor would have been weak-sauce, but God sent me a truly good man. By God’s grace I was brought under the protective umbrella of Dr. Richard Maurer. Richard is one of the most magnanimous people I have ever known. He was one of the few men who would not only share their own failures with you but he would weep with those who weep.(Romans 12:14) And there were times I saw him cry not for me but for people who were so lost in their own sin that their anger came out side ways. He just like Jesus had a way of looking at people with great compassion. I have seen him feel for people like Jesus did in Matthew 9:36-37:
“36When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
To me the special gift God gave me in Richards tutelage was an appreciation and an understanding of holiness. I had heard so many preach the salvation message but not everyone seemed to expect transformation like Richard did. Richard is not a “holier than thou” kind of guy, but he has a sincere understanding that when Jesus lives in us, He shows Himself in us by holy living. Therefore in Richard I was able to see Jesus in some very practical ways. His speech is always uplifting, his humor was always wholesome, and his outlook was always upbeat. Richard believed and said: “Because of Jesus the best is yet to be.” This is a truth that guides his life. This contagious outlook was a gift that I was privileged to enjoy and pick-up and incorporate into my life and ministry.
On a personal level what I appreciate most about Richard is his ability to see how Jesus was at work in my life. He always encouraged this present reality and then he didn’t get bogged down with the slew of complaints about me that were sent to his office. You see, Richard was my Superintendant when I served as a Senior Pastor of the Free Methodist Church here in Colorado Springs. As you know by now I don’t play “Prevent Defense” and in my dealings with disgruntled people I would often “speak the truth to them in love”. (Ephesians 4:15) This commitment to truth and light often got me side-ways with people and when these people called him with their legitimate complaints Richard would deal with me but he never allowed my slip-ups and struggles to bury me in fear or threats like so many others would do. I could tell that he cared deeply about my heart and I love him for this. He had a way to confront the real issues and get me to believe in God and myself and to keep trusting that God was able to move these mountains both in me and in the present situation. He never ever hinted that unless I changed or grew up quickly I was going to be thrown away. He taught me how God’s love transformed us and made us secure. Under Richard’s leadership I was able to grow and blossom in many beautiful ways. I still draw strength from Richards encouraging words and perspective.
One of the unique qualities of Richard was his athletic background, even today he is in his late 60′s and he continues to compete in softball. His teams have won national championships he has a great arm and a homerun producing swing. As an athlete we had a common entry point into many of our conversations about leadership, and the struggle of athletic competition gave him rare and wonderful insights into the process of struggle, growth and change. He was patient, kind and remained positive in every situation we worked through together. He always believed in God’s ability to rally and lift up His people.
I believe what made him so resilient was his scriptural belief in sanctification. To Richard practical holiness wasn’t something we had to wait till heaven to experience. In Richard I witnessed the beauty of Jesus, his sweet spirit and outlook gave me a glimpse of what Jesus is really like. He believed that if we truly believe in Jesus and allow Him to have priority in our lives we should reflect His glory in the way we talk and walk. One of the best lessons he taught me was from the Apostle Paul’s reflection on the Old Covenant and the New in 2 Corinthians 3:7-18
The Glory of the New Covenant - “7Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, 8will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? 9If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! 10For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. 11And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts! 12Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. 13We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away. 14But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. 15Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
In this lesson he got me to think about the face of Moses and think about the quality man he was. He got me to see how great this law-giver was and how glorious his ministry was. I thought about the kind of leader Moses was and how he led that exodus out of Egypt and how he dealt with disgruntled people. And then he showed me how much more glorious Jesus new covenant is and how we now have true freedom and can worship him unhindered if we really believe. He imparted to me the joy of ministering in the power of the Holy Spirit, and I caught a vision of my face being able to reflect the Lord’s glory as I am being transformed. This is the unblock able goal that I am now growing to accept.
These truths were also applied in Richard’s life when his son John who was in the same batting order with Him on the church softball team died unexpectedly. This left a huge gap in Richards heart yet like Job I saw Richard keep on offering himself to his heavenly father with thanksgiving. A loss like this is never replaced of fully healed. Our faith is always being tested and life does not seem fair and in a few following years Richards dear wife and best friend would be taken from him by cancer. This amount of loss would level most of us and knock us out of commission, yet Richard kept abiding in Christ and abounding in God’s love. The beauty if Jesus continued to radiate off of Richard even though his pain was real. He has taken his licks.
We went through a lot of church set-backs together but I only saw his commitment to always do the right things in the right ways. In every situation he taught me to look for Jesus and to only move with Him. Richard is one of those who belong in the “Hall of Fame of Faith” in Hebrew chapter eleven “who this world is not worthy of”. (Hebrews 11:38)
“Coach” Dan Stavely
I called Dan Stavely “Coach” and so did hundreds of other men. Coach Stavely was a football coach who had worked at great schools like Stanford and Colorado universities. But, he is legend for the ways in which he helped young people navigate through life. In his later years I even drove him to and helped him get set up in a major state university student union commons area where he would meet with students for ten hours one after another in hour long appointments. He gave pre-marriage and life counseling to hundreds of young people. All day long students would line up to meet with him, and there he was with his bible open and sharing his heart and the Godly counsel that flowed out of him.
Coach was one of those guys that would wear a Bible out nearly every year. He loved the Word and you couldn’t talk with him very long without discussing a character of the Bible he seemed to know them personally and today because he is in heaven I can see him walking with these characters with full joy. Coach loved the great stories of the Bible and we spent hours discussing them, he also loved inspiring Bible illustrations and I got my love for these ignited from him. Coach had hundreds of stories, illustrations and quips with in his grasp and he would retell these stories at the drop of a hat and with gusto.
The people who knew Coach knew him to be a man of loud prayer. Now I know that God doesn’t need our volume to hear our prayers but when we went to Perkins “Baptist” Church his name for the Perkins restaurant where we would go for a fellowship time and some pie. When Coach would be asked to pray he would say: “This might not be good, but it will be loud”, and then everyone in the store would be blessed by his grace filled and grateful prayer.
People everywhere flocked to the big old barrel chested coach who always walked with a limp (hip injury). His big hearty welcome and huge hugs were legendary and people always lined up to have the old coach hug their neck and to receive a loving Christian blessing.
Dan was a first rate soul winner, and he affirmed this gift in me.(evangelism) We both worked in the Colorado State office of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and there were days he would walk into the office and say: “Sid what are you doing in here? There are no souls to win in here, get out of here and go win some souls.” The beautiful thing about these words is that he meant them. Coach was totally committed to personal evangelism, he believed with all his heart that faith comes by hearing the wonderful words of life and to him there was nothing more important than this. Coach regularly led people to Jesus, he always knew where people were in relationship with Jesus and he was fervent in praying for hundreds of people at any time.
From the Coach I came to love stories, love evangelism, love people and love the local church. The reason people flocked to Coach is because they could see love in his eyes. He would hug and say encouraging words to lots of people everyday. He was great in remembering names because you had a sense that he was praying for them.
Coach had a special place in his heart for pastors and I have a feeling that he thought he should have been one, but in reality he was, and church with the coach was always in session. Coach was a pastor to his players, his students and his co-workers. He only talked about pastors in a positive way and was loved by church leaders everywhere. One of my great regrets in life was that I missed out on his memorial service. I was blessed to have talked with him a year before he went to heaven, and I am just humbled by the reality that God gave me this giant of a man and a mentor and friend.