Category: LA Story

LA Story – The Cross

Things are not always what they appear to be. Just a few seconds were left in an important high school football game that would determine the final state championship playoff spot. The favored team was ahead by two points and they had the ball on the opponent’s 40-yard line. To win, all they had to do was fall on the ball and let the clock run out. But the coach sent in a play that so totally rattled his team in the huddle that they were called for a delay-of-game penalty. Although confused and perplexed, the team ran the play that the coach had called: the quarterback handed the ball to the tailback, who then ran 55 yards in the WRONG direction – into his own end zone! A sure victory had now turned into a tie game because of the two-point safety. What a crazy coach! That is what everyone in the stands and on the field thought. But remember, things are not always what they appear to be. The coach knew exactly what he was doing. You see, because of the way the season had gone, his team had to defeat their opponents in this final game by at least four points. With only seconds left in the game and ahead by only two points, his team would have had to score on just one final play when they were 40 yards from the goal line – nearly impossible. He knew that by his causing the game to be tied with the safety, his team would have a much better chance to win in overtime. And they did! They won by six points and went on to the state championship playoffs.

LA Story – Back To The Future Final Issue

This is the last issue of LA Story. I type that sentence with a real sense of sadness, because we are closing a chapter that has lasted eight wonderful years. Closing down LA Story is like saying good-bye to a dear friend. We started with a staff of just two in January 1994. I was the Editor, and Maryann Rose was the Associate Editor. That was it. We knew very little about publishing a news magazine that would chronicle God’s accomplishments in Los Angeles and around the world. It didn’t take long for us to enlist more help: we were soon joined by Emily Bringardner as our Art Director and Roger Lamb as Managing Editor. Along the way, we picked up Robin Fawcett, Lisa Holman, Janet Dixon, Marcia Lamb and Declan Joyce. In addition, Michelle Tinti, Lance Tracy and Bart Moyers have been very helpful at different times. When we began, the LA Church had 3,300 members and the worldwide membership was 47,000 – each about one-third of what they are today. The movement was in just 53 nations, but now 170 nations have disciples worshiping in them. God has done amazing things in just eight years!

LA Story – Staying Alive

Super Bowl XXXVI – New England Patriots 20, St. Louis Rams 17. It ranks as one of the great Super Bowl upsets of all time. Having finished in last place the previous season, and having started the season with one win and three losses, no one gave the Patriots a chance of even making the playoffs, much less of defeating the former world champion Rams. The only ones who believed in the Patriots were themselves. Every playoff game became a matter of staying alive. Because they never quit believing and fought until the very last play, they are now the world champions.

Last year, 2001, was a very hard year for many disciples and churches. Personally, it was one of the most difficult years that Gloria and I have ever experienced. September 11th marked our 40th wedding anniversary, and we were to fly that very day to New York City. Late last year, two very special friends and treasures of the Kingdom, Ryan Howard and George Havins, died and went home to be with God. My father in the faith, mentor and best friend Kip McKean and his wife Elena went on sabbatical to sort through marriage and family problems. Two of our special spiritual children, Moe and Amani Bishara, left Los Angeles spiritually renewed to return to the Middle East.

LA Story – Hope and Glory HopeWW

September 11th is about relationships. It has brought out the worst and the best in them. How could one group of people hate another group so much that they would plan and scheme for years and ultimately throw away their own lives to create as much havoc and destruction as possible? The answer is relationships, or rather the lack of them. What causes a nation to rally around 4,000 victims and their families, whom they have never met, to contribute time, money, blood, supplies, letters and prayers? The answer is relationships. God intends for hard times to bring out the best in us. Paul wrote in Romans 5:3-4, “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” The worst kind of suffering is suffering alone. God created us to be community; that is why he said that it is not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18). He has put into us a sense of community, an intuitive drive to care for the needs of one another. Satan and his demons devote themselves to destroying that sense and putting hate and mistrust in its place. Thus we saw the fruits of both God and Satan on September 11th.

LA Story – Field of Dreams

Afew weeks ago, the only thing we dreaded about going to the mailbox was junk mail. Now it is anthrax. Fear of this biological weapon has grounded airplanes, closed the US House of Representatives and led to the arrest of practical jokers who made anthrax threats. United States President George Bush has declared war on terrorism and on all those who support it. We are told that this war may last for years. And unlike America’s previous wars it will be fought, at least in part, on our own turf. As ugly as the war in Vietnam was, it was fought half way around the world, as were World War I and II and the Korean conflict. Nearly a century and a half has passed since war scorched the USA. Now, however, though the US has suffered very few casualties in Afghanistan, thousands are dead in New York City, Washington, DC, and Pennsylvania. We are told to expect more terrorist attacks around the globe in the weeks, months and years to come, at times and in ways that we least expect. In addition to the fear of terrorism, we hear of the airlines that face bankruptcy, the massive layoffs, the falling stock market and imminent recession. What will we face next? Security seems to be just a pleasant memory in the United States of America.

LA Story – The Line Of Fire

Sitting across from a network TV reporter who is doing a negative story on the church is about my least favorite thing in life. He or she is armed with questions carefully crafted to entrap me, magnifying every word and facial expression with video cameras. Almost every interview is the same, full of the “when did you stop beating your wife?”-type questions. An hour-long interview is normally edited down to a couple of minutes of the most damaging-sounding Religious freedom is a great blessing, but most of us who have it take it for granted. comments they can piece together – often out of context. After one interview for a national program, I asked the producer why he focused on the comments of a negative few rather than on the many marriages that have been rescued by the church, the almost non-existent divorce rate, our many projects to help the poor, or our racial diversity. His answer still rings in my ears: “Churches are supposed to do good things and that is not news that people will watch!”

LA Story – Vertical Limit Church Growth

On our recent trip to Asia, Gloria and I were privileged to be with disciples in both Singapore and Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Never have I visited two more contrasting countries. Singapore, in  just 50 years, has climbed out of the ravages of World War II and claimed a spot among the most wealthy on earth. Cambodia, on the other hand, is still reeling from the torture, death and destruction suffered under Pol Pot’s rule, which ended in 1979. Yet, in both places the challenge to make disciples is being successfully answered. This issue of LA Story is an up-to-date report on how well Jesus’ Great Commission is being accomplished around the world. First, it is imperative that we understand the process of making disciples. Paul explains it in 1 Corinthians 3:5-7, What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe – as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. Pride and arrogance will destroy us. God works through our humility. Amazing growth has taken place in the International Churches of Christ since our inception in 1979, but we must be careful to give God all of the credit. We are only servants through whom others come to believe.

LA Story – Meet The Parents

The Christmas Season is over. It is my favorite time of the year, not because of the presents that I get, but because of family. My wife and I have three daughters, all of whom are married to  Wonderful, spiritual men. Between them, they have five daughters (In November, Andy and Staci had the latest in our unbroken string of girls: Kimberly Joy Yeatman, who weighed in at 11 pounds and one ounce – a new family record!) All of the kids and grandkids were home for Christmas. That was pure joy; I look forward to it all year, each year. We had lots of playing and  laughing and catching up and remembering and dreaming. It only lasted a week, but it will keep me happy for a long time. God sets the lonely in families, and we all have been lonely at some time and in need of family.