Easter Weekend 2020

Dear Soul Cafe Family,

Oh, how we miss one another.  In one more way we are finding out how important being with one another in flesh and blood is to us.  It is bound to be at the root of why Our Father sent Jesus to us in flesh and blood.  It is so crucial in telling us that He is with us.

They will be second best substitutes, but we are going to try something this Resurrection weekend.  We are going to take communion together via YouTube, and we are going to attempt to live stream a sunrise service (for all the early birds out there).

 At about sunset on Friday evening we will post a video on YouTube that will lead us through the Lord’s last meal with his friends before his death.  It will be very simple and brief.  We will read the story from Scripture and then take the supper together.  Here is what you will need to do. First, go to youtube.com on your computer.  Then type in “Soul Cafe Communion” in the search bar.  It will bring up a video of Lorri and I at the thicket house.  I will lead us in taking the meal together. You can do it anytime for the rest of Friday evening or Saturday morning.

The second thing you will want to do is to have something that will represent the body and the blood of Christ.  Lorri and I will be using a biscuit and grape juice.  You can use what you have available to you.  Then put on your best imagination hat and know that somehow we are taking this meal together.

The Resurrection Sunrise Service live stream will begin at 6:40 am April 12.  Sunrise is at 7:03 am here in Ledbetter.  It is our best way of being together.  If you can’t make it at 6:40 you can watch the recording on our Soul Cafe Facebook page anytime on Sunday.

You are the most loving and courageous people on the face of the planet.  Lorri and I love you to pieces and can’t wait to be back with you so very soon.

He is Risen.

He is Risen Indeed!!!


Developing A Care Plan

The people of Ledbetter are phenomenal in their care and concern for one another.  The people of our community are showing care as though it is embedded in their cultural DNA. It continually shows who you are as one of the greatest little villages is Texas.

Some care gets expressed spontaneously in the course of our interaction with one another. Most recently, however, care is being demonstrated in more intentional ways. On Saturday afternoon a group of people met to specifically construct a compass of care. A compass that will point us in directions in which we can be strategically helpful to one another as we navigate our way through this viral crisis.

What came to the surface in that discussion was beautifully simple. One: we need a way to communicate with one another. And two, we need a plan for delivering any help that might be needed by members of our community family.

The need for communications is a two way street. We recognized the need for getting out accurate and helpful information rather than information designed to create more fear. Such as, what is the status of our country? What are the best practices for us in limiting the spread of the virus?

It was also apparent that a communication channel needs to have a way for us to hear from you. Much of our concern focused on senior adults. If help is needed in picking up medicine from the pharmacy, or groceries, or a ride to a doctor appointment,  a number to call where someone can meet that need is one plan that is being developed. No one needs to be alone in the time of social distancing.

The added need of communications is more abstract but just as real. We need one another. We need to maintain the connections that have meant so much to our emotional and spiritual well-being.  Worshiping God together is of fundamental importance in creating the kind of community in which we want to live.  Our technology-gifted folks are developing a way for us to connect via the Soul Cafe youtube channel.  We will send a link that will take you to videos that are being created even as early as this morning

The second strategic area was in putting together a delivery system that can get help to where it is needed. That delivery system needs to be robust, flexible, and responsive. In many ways we have to design a delivery system of care not knowing fully what care might be needed. How quickly will this crisis be over? We don’t know that yet. How bad might it get? We don’t know that. The objective will be something of a moving target. The feeling in the group was that we need to be prepared to meet the most severe needs of which we are capable of meeting and living in the hope that it is never needed.

On Monday evening a group of “implementors” is going to meet to flesh out the objectives of communication and delivery. We will prioritize things that must be done first and things that must be done later or as need arises. On Tuesday it will be “all hands on deck” time. I have a feeling that there is going to be a task for every one of us as we build our lives together.

For everyone out there, know that your community is working for you and with you. You are the most wonderful human beings on this planet. We’ll be in touch very soon.

God Is In Control

What do we mean when we say “God is in control”?

As the ten year old says to his mom, “If God doesn’t like the devil, why doesn’t he just pinch his head off?”

It is a perennial question. And this is not an answer to that question. There is a kind of maturing faith that lives in mystery without defaulting to unbelief. There is a certain arrogance that believes we can understand everything.

What we can say is that there is great comfort in hearing those words even when we don’t completely understand them. Perhaps because we are well aware that we are not in control. Our hearts can hardly tolerate the idea that we live in a world of total chaos and randomness.

I have found immense comfort in the understanding that God being in control is to say that there is no circumstance in which God is unable to work. It doesn’t mean that God causes everything that happens. It means that when life happens, and it rips our insides out and leaves us in the ditch to die that God is still at work to mend brokenness and heal wounds. It means that no depth of sin can utterly destroy us. It means that no calamity, however bad, can shape us into a bitter and mean person. Jesus died under the weight of the sins of the whole world. But God was the real victor in that brutal ordeal. On the third day Jesus rose from the grave defeating one of our greatest terrors.

It may be that in the face of this vicious plague God is going to show up among us and demonstrate some of the best things we have ever seen him do. God is at work among us.

So let’s follow his lead and begin work with him. We  need about ten or twelve of  you who would take four or five church families’ names and keep in touch with them during the next few weeks to know if there are any needs we might be able to meet.  Email Lorri at ledbettersoulcafe@gmail.com and she will send you some contact information that we have.

Remember:  God loves you like the dickens and he is in control.


We Need One Another

Our wonderful, generous, caring church family,

I may be at the top of the list of those who are deeply missing the fellowship with the Soul Cafe family. I suspect, however, that there are others of you who are feeling the same way. Our relationships with one another are like sustenance. Our best friends are nourishment for our soul. If you think going without food is uncomfortable try going without your friends. Bottom line is: We joyously need one another. Especially right now.

I want to send out this brief message as the first of many that has behind it the hope that it helps us connect up with one another in a safe but sustaining way.

First, let’s get on the same page. None of us has the complete picture of what is going on right now. There is an overload of information about this virus, much of which is partial and incorrect, so much so, that we don’t know what to believe or where to turn for the truth. That uncertainty is a place where panic and fear can begin to manipulate our decision making. We just don’t make our best decisions there.

At a practical level, here are some decisions that we are making for our Soul Cafe family. We are going to postpone Sunday worship services until the greatest danger of contagion is over. God will give us the wisdom to know when that will be. There will be no Wednesday evening services. Our encouragement is that we err on the side of caution for the sake of others. Now some of you brave hearts would charge hell with a water gun. And you’re not afraid of getting the virus at all. However, I’ll bet you feel differently about giving the virus to someone else. It would break your heart. So just know we are not canceling services to protect you brave ones, we are canceling services to protect everyone else. (My real desire would be to get a bunch of us he-men together so, in solidarity, we could shake out fists in the face of the old devil.)

So if there is any objective in this first of a series of communications it is that we listen to what God wishes to say to us. I encourage you to amplify and expand. Here is what Jesus says God is like:

God is LOVE. In hundreds of ways Jesus reminds us that God is like a Father who longs for a wayward son to come home. Or like a good shepherd with ninety nine sheep safely in the corral, risk life and limb to claw through the darkness of night to look for the one that is lost. That is what God is like. Even in pandemics God is still in love with you.

God is at Work. There is no moment in which God is not working on your behalf. “For we know that in all things God is at work for the good of those who love him and called to be a part of his purpose.” (Romans 8: 28)

God calls us to participate in extending his love. That is where we are right now. I can’t think of a time in which there is more need to express God’s love to others than right now.

God’s love wins. If there is an absolute power and ultimate power, it is the stamina of God’s love. There is a confidence stirring in me that assures me we are going to make it through this. Together.

So even at some “social distance” I want many of you to help keep us in helping us lovingly connect up with one another in meeting whatever needs arise. Already your creativity is rising up out of the confusion in ways that amaze me.

The next communication will start putting us together in ways that will sustain us.

This is my Father’s world. We are in His loving hands.

Grace and Peace,


Jesus Knows

Scripture Reading:  Matthew 27:46; Psalms 22: 1-19

It is a gut wrenching emptiness to be utterly abandoned.  Every one of us know something of that devastating loneliness.  We can remember what the emotional pain was like.

These agonizing words spoken by Jesus from the cross are recalled by both Matthew and Mark. They allow us to find in Jesus someone who is kin to us.  He knows. He knows exactly.

What is recollected by Matthew and Mark are the opening verses of Psalms 22.  Except for the excruciating depth of his pain, Jesus may have quoted aloud the whole Psalm. He knew it by heart.  It is a Psalm that foreshadows the very event Jesus is now going through.

There is part of Jesus’ death that we can understand as Jesus dying for us.  As in our stead.  We can treasure that expression of his love for us.  However, it may only be half the fullness of what happened when Jesus died.  There is another sense in which Jesus dies not just for us, but with us.  He dies in the same way we die when the bottom falls out of life and there seems to be no one to whom we can turn.  No one there to hear us.  It is the way we die when we cry out loud and ask for help and the heavens seem silent.  In that way Jesus dies with us.  He knows.  He knows exactly.

It may be true that our most profound steps forward in our faith are preceded by just this kind of pathos.  Even in the silence, however, God is at His work of redemption.  For in the silence God is saying that there is no sin for which you are culpable that he cannot forgive.  And there is no sin done to you by others that cannot be healed.

You know what it is to be forsaken.  So does He.  He knows exactly.

Service Updates

This is a very difficult call. However, in being on the better side of careful, I have made the decision to cancel Sunday worship service for March 15 and all activities for Wednesday, March 18.
Most of us, I realize, are not overly worried about the virus. But if prudence saves just one person the great discomfort of this malicious virus then it will be a wise decision to cancel services this Sunday and Wednesday.
I encourage everyone to stay at home this Sunday.  By Saturday evening, via email and the church’s Facebook page and website, Lorri and I will send out a Scripture reading and my thoughts leading us into the Easter season that you can use at home as a family or for personal worship.
Use your most trusted source to take whatever precautions you follow.
I don’t want to send a mixed or confusing message. If you can stay home this Sunday, that may be the wisest thing you can do. I will, however, be at the church on Sunday morning to tell all those, including potential guests, that services at the church have been canceled. I will stay there until 11:15. At that time I will begin a time of prayer for our community in coping with this situation that has caused so much fear all over the world. If anyone wishes to join me for the brief time until 11:30, that would be fine. We will bump elbows, pray, and return home.
Here are the words to a great hymn of comfort:

This Is My Father’s World

This is my Father’s world, and to my list’ning ears,

All nature sings and round me rings
The music of the spheres
This is my Father’s world, the birds their carols raise
The morning light, the lily white
Declare their Maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world!  I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
His hand the wonders wrought.
This is my Father’s world, O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong
God is the ruler yet.

This is my Father’s world!  Why should my heart be sad?

The Lord is King, let the heavens ring;
God reigns, let the earth be glad.
This is my Father’s world!  He shines in all that’s fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass,
He speaks to me everywhere.
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass
He speaks to me everywhere.
Grace and Peace,
Doug Tipps

The Christmas Paradigm

Each of us is moved toward finding the reason for our existence. The perennial question is the “why” of why we are here at all. We rightly seek meaning and purpose. The remembrance of Christmas is a part of answering that question and finding the meaning we need.

The Jesus of Nazareth story begins to connect us to the source of our own meaning. For once we hear the story OF Christmas we begin a process of understanding that there is a story BEHIND Christmas. This time-bound story of a PARTICULAR child born in the PARTICULAR backwoods town of Bethlehem is actually the story of the eternal God on a cosmic mission to restore relationship to EVERY child in EVERY town.

How did God choose to accomplish this monumental mission? How would the eternal and unseen God choose to interface with the likes of us? Well, there in the story of mangers and shepherds and cow cookies, God chooses to join us in our humanity by becoming flesh and blood with us. All of a sudden “the fullness of time” has a specific date, a specific place and the full and sated Word of what he is really like is first heard in the cry of a newborn baby.

This is the Christmas paradigm that brings the extremes of the divine/human, universal/specific, and eternal/dated and brings one into the other. The Eternal became human. The unseen God now has a face and leaves footprints in the desert sand. His embrace heals our fragile and broken limbs.

Now, back to what the Christmas story has to do with our purpose and meaning. It is exactly this, that the specific act of God in Jesus has now become the universal paradigm for making himself known again and again and again. The universal Christ is once again born in every compassionate touch and every act of love of one space/time individual to another. God continues to become flesh and live among us through our hands and feet. Our words. Our lives. We are not the Christ. But in a manner beyond our comprehension, our purpose goes beyond enjoying God forever, to loving him and serving his children right now and right here in this wonderful little town of Ledbetter, Texas. You will never find a higher calling.

Christmas Grace and Peace,

Doug Tipps

With Thankful Hearts

Sometimes it is a question of what name we call God when we say our prayers of gratitude. There are grand-sounding Hebrew words that are names for God: Yahweh, Elohim, Jehovah. Those names give us a sense of the magnitude and greatness of God. They express so much about who God is. They describe His character.  When Jesus taught us to pray, however, he showed us a preference for a name — a way of addressing God that brought God very near to us. “When you pray,” he said, “Say, ‘Our Father’.” What a transforming idea.  He is our Father.  We are His children.  And He has come close enough that he hears every word, feels every heartbeat, knows every concern.  To praise God means that we acknowledge what is most true about God.

We reserve our greatest thanks for what we most desperately need, a Heavenly Father. For that we will praise His name forever.

Join us for worship tomorrow morning as our Praise Team, along with narrator Kathy Gordon, lead us in a musical celebration of Thanksgiving.  Together, we will take the Lord’s Supper as part of our worship.  All are welcome.