Sunday, December 09, 2007

Missions Offering

For those of you who are strangers to Southern Baptist life we have at least one tradition that is a real keeper. Every year at Christmas we take up an offering for international missions call The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering For Foreign Missions. It is named after a Southern Baptist Missionaty to China who literally gave all for the cause of Christ to reach the people of China. God used her in a tremendous way to reach people and she is revered today for the life she sacrificed for Christ and His Kingdom.

I had some convicting and random thoughts...

Our church set a goal of $3000.00 for the offering this year. We have three Sunday until Christmas and so far we are only 10% of the way. Most people will spend about ten times what they give to the offering on Christmas presents to people which they do not need.

Missionaries are people who will go around the world to share Christ. Many Christians have a hard time going down the street to church services on Sunday.

Unless I upgrade my giving this Christmas I will have spent more food on horse feed and dog food than what I have planned to give to the offering. I think I will upgrade what I plan to give.

If every active family in our little church gave $100.00 we would blow past this offering amount. If I take my family out to eat twice in one month I will likely spend more than $100.00.

Southern Baptist Mission leaders will receive a budget for their areas this year. Their decision boils down to one question: "Which people group will I decide will not have a Christian witness for another year?" Next year they will be asking the same question, perhaps about the same people group.

Southern Baptists have one of the largest missionary prescences in the world, 5,388. If you divide that number by the low number of 42,000 Southern Baptist Churches that is .13 missionaries per church. Is it unrealistic of me to think there is no reason we could not have one person per church called and sent as a missionary?

The greatest missionary ever was not Lottie Moon or the Apostle Paul. The greatest Missionary is Jesus.

Before you buy someone a tie or shirt they will likely not wear think about how those funds could be used by a missionary seeking to do what you and I have not been willing to do.

Just some random thinking.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Missions re-Minder

This past Saturday we had our annual Associational Meeting. For those of you not familiar with the way Baptists do things "Associations" are local groups of Baptist churches that cooperate together to do mission work in their area and many times beyond. The treat this year was having Dr. Jerry Rankin, President of the Southern Baptist International Mission Board (IMB)as our key speaker. First I would like to say that I felt in everything he said and did that he is a man of integrity and humility. I appreciate that so much.

He began with a statement which, after making it, he could have sat down and let an invitation be given. He said, "Jesus did not give the Great Commission to the IMB to do on behalf of Southern Baptists." He was identifying a common sin in our churches of thinking that once we give our money for missions we have done all we need to do. We do not see the need to go ourselves.

He went on to speak of how the various crisis around the world are opportunities for God to work. He says he has seen God do more in the last 10 years than during his entire missionary life which included 23 years as a church planter in Indonesia and now 14 years as head of the IMB. He suspects that baptisms of new Christians through our work may well top 600,000 this year. We have been used of God to reach 100 new people groups in the last 8 years.

One of the powerful illustrations of the need for more people to "go" and do missions is found in a contrast of the effects of hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the Tsunami that hit Sri Lanka and India a couple of years ago. He pointed out that the twin sisters of destruction had destroyed over 600 church buildings. The tsunami on the other hand killed over 250,000 people in a brief moment of time and destroyed zero evangelical churches. It destroyed no churches because there were none there to destroy.

Of course he gave some examples of the work before us. There are three hundred people groups in Central Asia who have no Good News witness. 1.3 billion people live in isolated geographic or culturally separated areas with no Good News witness.

He used Psalm 67 as an example of how we read verse 1 and ask God to bless us. That verse is often used as a blessing at the end of a worship service. He noted we rarely follow that up with verse 2: "...that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations." Ouch.

He told a funny story of starting as President of the IMB and knowing next to nothing about computers. He did, however, learn of the spell check feature. His program did not recognize the word "unreached". When he clicked on the suggested spellings it offered "unrelated". He applied this to unreached people being unrelated to God. Our task is to help "relate" them.

Somewhere near the end he noted Jesus' perspective on missions from Luke 24:46-47: He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations,..."

His message was especially on target for me in a week when God had already spoken of a need for me and for our church to identify and try to reach an unreached people across the globe.

I wrote down a side note as he was preaching. I remembered that Avery Willis, author of MasterLife discipleship and my seminary professor in church growth, Ebbie Smith and the past two presidents of the IMB, Keith Parks and Jerry Rankin all served in Indonesia. Coincidence?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Shaking The Place

When they had prayed, the place where they were assembled was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak God’s message with boldness. Acts 4:31

I guess I could simply ask, “Do you have a prayer life that shakes places?” I don’t. The problem with that is not that I do not have a prayer life that shakes, nor even stirs on the typical day. No, the real problem is most of the time I do not even desire that kind of a prayer life. On those rare occasions when I desire it I fail to pursue it. You might say I do not want a “shake the place” prayer life so much as I like the idea of that kind of a prayer life.

The praying that went on in this passage was a heartfelt desire, a “beseech” you kind of request. I would say it is a “begging” kind of prayer. I do not mean that negatively. The place of that prayer is not important. They were “gathered together” or “with one another”. The result of that prayer is the outrageous part.

The place was “shaken”. I looked up the word shaken used here. It means “a motion made by winds, waves and storms” or “shaking something’s contents” or to “overthrow”. Pick your favorite but in each case you will find that the point of “shaken” is that a power beyond our selves kicks in and we are no longer in control.

This kind of prayer is begging God with all our heart until we pray beyond our control. I’m ready for more than the idea of that kind of a prayer life. How about you?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Hidden In The Love Chapter

1 Corinthians 13:11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.

Browsing through the love chapter I spotted this illustration Paul uses that is often overlooked. An illustration is often a common truth that everyone reading or hearing it can readily understand. Well, almost everyone. Let me tell you about this truth in my life before I get to the punch line.

In my junior year of High School I participated in Close Up. This is a group that learns history together then travels to Washington D.C. to see the real deal, Whitehouse, Congress, Pentagon and assorted beuracracies. I remember being under the mistaken concept that by the questions I asked government would suddenly change and become rational overnight. I also remember being a smart Alec. I would ask questions with a hateful tone and refuse to accept answers to those questions which were complex but I viewed as simple. I also asked questions at the wrong places. This morning I realized that two of the questions I asked were actually good questions just addressed to the wrong people. The one I asked my Representative should have been asked at the Pentagon while the one I asked at the Pentagon should have been asked on Capitol Hill. (I cannot explain why, after 26 years, I woke up this morning and thought about this.)

The truth behind this is I thought, spoke and acted like a child. I have since grown up. That is the same general truth Paul appeals to here. This brings me to my point. Some of us have never grown up. We still think, speak and act as children when maturity should be the order of the day. While childlike faith is commended by Jesus the Bible never commends immature actions.

Now before I finish casting this broad range of stones at others let me admit that I too sometimes slip back into childishness. My thoughts, words and deeds fall short of the maturity mark expected of a follower of Christ. I will endeavor to be a man today. I purpose to let my thoughts, words and actions be those of an adult believer.

How about you?

Blog Fast Over

Thanks for being patient and coming back.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Open Doors and Opposition

This year I am reading two devotionals as part of my devotional time with Father. As I once heard Chuck Swindoll describe a book they are both "little books with big fists". One is Henry Blackaby's "Experiencing God Day By Day". The other is Selwyn Hughes "Every Day Light". This morning the two joined forces to nail me on a specific issue, namely, open doors.
Blackaby zeroed in on 1 Corinthians 16:9 "For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries." Hughes followed suit with pointing out that Jesus was always headed to the "next village" (Ex. Luke 9:56), but the "next village" was never His ultimate goal. I quickly recognized my guilt in not looking for the open door, not taking it or taking it grudgingly because of the opposition, not realizing that one open door leads to the next (and it's corresponding opposition) and finally for looking at the "next village" as the goal when in reality it is not the ultimate destination. Four direct hits in two short pages.
I am especially amazed that when the open door comes there seems to always be opposition. Can we be honest for a moment? More often than not I have seen that opposition come from INSIDE the church rather than from the world and it's flawed systems.
I ask you today to join me in looking for the open door. Join me in taking it without grumbling or complaint. Join me in committing to NOT be part of the opposition.
Side note. As I read Acts and the letters of Paul, one of his greatest tests of opposition came in Ephesus. That church became one of the strongest of Paul's church plants and the base of many of His missionary journeys. It was the sight of His longest recorded stay, the longest farewell before His fateful trip to Jerusalem and his strongest support base.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Rise Up And Walk, 07/25/2007

Following are the rough notes from my sermon this morning. All definitions unless otherwise noted are from Merriam Webster Online Dictionary. I would appreciate any comments/critiques and responses.

Rise Up And Walk: A Different View Of Healing Acts 3:1 - 13

SST: Peter and John put aside their “planned” spiritual mission in order to take advantage of a “God planned” moment of ministry. This resulted in a clear presentation of the Gospel message to a crowd of amazed and willing hearers from which about 5,000 men were brought into a relationship with Jesus.

Introduction: Is there a difference in doing something spiritual as opposed to doing something Godly? My answer is “yes”. The dictionary says “spiritual” means of, relating to, consisting of, or affecting the spirit. Something can affect your spirit without it being of God. In fact, there are many things that we could say are “spiritual” that are actually quite harmful to us. There are things that we do that we think are spiritual but in fact have no positive spiritual impact upon us. There are also those things we do which we falsely think are spiritual.
By contrast, something is Godly when it is “like” God; it is similar to God or to His attributes or character. Something can be Godly when it is “of God”, that is from God or representing His blessing or gifts. Additionally something can be described as Godly when it is in relation to God, for example in receiving something from God or in imitating Godlikeness.
We live in a time in history where there is a great pursuit of the “spiritual” and a limited pursuit of that which is “Godly”. I am told that in some places in the United States there are more New Age bookstores than there are Christian bookstores. Many are seeking to be spiritual, few are seeking to be Godly.
This is only unusual in light of the truth that Christians have feverishly been spreading the truth through books and music, a movement which began in earnest in the 1970’s and has reached fruition in our day and time. The impact of this Christian retail movement has not been lost on the world. Contemporary Christian music is the fastest growing sector of the music industry. A trip to your local bookstore will reveal that in addition to walls and walls of books and CD’s you will find DVD’s, bumper stickers, t-shirts, pictures, trinkets, cards, decorations and a slew of what can only be called “Jesus Junk”. Please understand, I am not opposed to any of these items or to the spread of Christian bookstores. They are a healthy move in the right direction for expanding the Kingdom and the awareness of the Kingdom of God.
I cannot escape, however, the sense that many people shop at these places out of a desire to “be spiritual” rather than with an attitude of humility, seeking to be like our God, the Lord Jesus Christ. Like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day who loved to be seen praying in the marketplace, there is a contingent of us who want to be “seen” as Christian. In that respect we are no different than the church people who attend for the prestige and not the powerful worship of our Creator. We are like the businessman who plays the percentages by joining the biggest church in town. I once had a boss who, upon finding out I am called to minister, told me, “Well, I hope you just the biggest (blankety blank) church in town!”
With that in mind I want to tell you a story from the New Testament book of Acts. It is the fifth book in the New Testament and it details the early days of the church after Jesus’ return to heaven. Our story occurs in chapter 3 and involves two of Jesus’ most prominent disciples, Peter and John:

Acts 3:1 - 13 (NKJV) 1Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. 2And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple; 3who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms. 4And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, “Look at us.” 5So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. 6Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” 7And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. 8So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God. 9And all the people saw him walking and praising God. 10Then they knew that it was he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. 11Now as the lame man who was healed held on to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the porch which is called Solomon’s, greatly amazed. 12So when Peter saw it, he responded to the people: “Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? 13The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go.

TS: Now you probably think that with a story about healing and a title that says, “Rise Up and Walk” this message would be all about healing. Instead I want you to know that it is all about opportunity and obedience. I want to use this text to paint a picture in our minds. This picture will be built around five truths drawn from the sacred text. We will also take time to have a conversation about several important words that will point us in the right direction. This picture is not about how God would have us to be healed though He does desire this. It is about what God would have us do in order to fulfill His purpose for our lives and in doing, offer healing to others.

First, I see in this passage this truth…

1. The best way to live life is found in doing what God has called you to do.

Many people who seek to be “spiritual” are doing it honestly. They truly want to find purpose and meaning in life. That is why we need to understand that if we really want to find purpose in life we need to discover God’s purpose for us and pursue it relentlessly. Peter and John were two guys who had found that purpose and followed it.

They were on the way to the Temple to worship. These two guys were the real thing when it came to being followers of Jesus. There was no hypocrisy here. They were on their way to worship because worship is an important part of who we are. We were created with worship of God in mind. Genesis tells us we were created in the image of God. A beautiful way of expressing God’s desire that we worship Him is found in 1 Chronicles 16:29 where the Word says “Give to the Lord the glory due His name; Bring an offering, and come before Him. Oh, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness!”

Worship of God and God alone is so important that it is the central point of two of the Ten Commandments, “You shall have no other God’s before me” and “You shall make no carved image of anything to worship it”.

Peter and John had a reason to worship, a command to worship and a desire to worship. In effect they were fulfilling what God had called them to do. They were fulfilling a responsibility.

That brings us to our first key word, Responsibility. My definition of responsibility is the action of faithfully fulfilling an obligation.

Peter and John were being responsible by coming to worship. The sacred text says they came at the ninth hour, or at 3:00 PM. In that day there were as many as five prayer times observed during the day. They were being faithful to come and worship through prayer. My point is not that you have to be at church every time the door is open. It is that we are responsible for our own relationship with God.

TS: A funny thing happened as they went to worship. God stopped them! God did so by means of an interruption. That interruption came in the form of a crippled man begging at the entrance to the Temple. This leads to the second truth I draw from this passage, in the words of baseball great Yogi Berra

2. When you come to a fork in the road, take it!

Peter and John were two of Jesus’ lead disciples. Along with James they had spent more individual time with Jesus that the other disciples. They were part of Jesus’ inner circle. We could definitely say they were busy men. Peter had recently preached about Jesus on a special day called Pentecost and three thousand people had come to know Jesus. Yet here is the truth of Scripture…

When their road forked they took the time to stop for this man. In the midst of their busy schedule and important lives they made themselves available to God for the benefit of one man. Availability is our second key word.

Availability means: the quality or state of being available. Being available means: qualified or willing to do something or to assume a responsibility. It means to be accessible or obtainable.

TS: Now being available is only the first step down the new road they took. The second step was…

They took the opportunity to proclaim the Gospel. We would say they “seized the day”. The word that comes to mind is Usability.

Usability can be described as: convenient and practicable for use.

Something or someone can be available but not usable or even useful.

TS: We have talked about being responsible, available and usable but what happens when the task or the need seems to great?

3. They met the need they could.

They had no money and no ability to help his financial request. They had an Inability. Inability is our next focus word. It means: lack of sufficient power, resources, or capacity. It means being powerless and it can be a pretty depressing word. It is all about our limited nature. There are just some things we cannot do. At the very least there are some things we think we cannot do. Peter and James were up against the wall and the hard place. They were being asked publicly to show the kind of love Jesus was known for and they had nothing that would meet the need they were asked to fill. What they did have was greater…

They did have the power of God flowing through them. What they lacked in financial ability they made up for in Supernatural ability. They literally had a power beyond themselves. They were not limited to what they themselves could do but by the Divine power of God.

The key word here is Supernatural. It means: of or relating to an order of existence beyond the visible observable universe; especially : of or relating to God. Some would describe it as: departing from what is usual or normal especially so as to appear to transcend the laws of nature or attributed to an invisible agent (as a ghost or spirit).

Seeking Supernatural outcomes is a matter of exercising incredible faith. How many of us would even dare to look past the immediate need, and the embarrassment of not being able to meet it, and in faith boldly say, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”

TS: For us, if we are to really have a supernatural impact upon others we must first realize that…

Every person we meet has a spiritual need that we can meet. Awareness.

Awareness is our next conversation word. It means: having or showing realization, perception, or knowledge. It also implies vigilance in observing or alertness in drawing inferences from what one experiences. My way of saying it is that we see what is going on around us. Often this means we see needs others miss.
Jesus showed this kind of compassionate awareness when He looked upon the City of Jerusalem where He would be crucified and said in Matthew 23:37 - 39 (NKJV) 37“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! 38See! Your house is left to you desolate; 39for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’” Jesus said that shortly after His Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. In other words, just when others were praising Him and just when the disciples were thinking their King had finally arrived He was aware of the vast spiritual vacuum before Him and just what it would cost Him.

4. Their obedience caused an increasing circle of influence for others to glorify God.

Influence is our next conversation word. It means: an emanation of spiritual or moral force or the act or power of producing an effect without apparent exertion of force or direct exercise of command. It can also be described as the power or capacity of causing an effect in indirect or intangible ways.

Peter and John, because of their faithfulness, were now influencing more than just the crippled man. They now had an audience of thousands. If you read through the end of the encounter you will find this simple statement in Scripture from Acts 4:4: “However, many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.”

5. They shared the Gospel clearly so that those around them could understand and accept.

In other words they shared the Jesus message with simple Clarity. Clarity is our next to last conversation word. It means “the quality or state of being clear or visible”.

For us it means that we need to tell the story of Jesus in a way that is clear and understanding to the world around us, or at least to whoever will listen to us.

Conclusion: The focus of this story in the Bible could easily be drawn simply to the man who was healed. My point, however, is that this man is a minor character whose name we never know. God is the main character in this Divine show, providing the power and majesty to change the lives of at least 5003 people that day: the crippled man, the five thousand who started a faith walk with Jesus that day and two obedient disciples whose faith was reinforced because they were:
Responsible in their actions
Available to God when the opportunity cam
Usable in His hands for a good work
Supernatural in their faith
Aware of the real need in the midst of the crowd
Influential by their obedience
Clear in their message

Peter and John get the award for best supporting actors in a life changing reality drama. It is there example I call you to follow today. Are you willing to surrender today to the life God wants you to have? It is not a life that is filled with empty spirituality. It is not a life of selfish pursuit of personal happiness. It is not a life of timid faith. It is not a life of going with the crowd so much as a calling to show the crowd where to go. It is not a life of silence but a life of boldly proclaiming truth even if in a still small voice.
Surrender is our final conversation word for the day. It means to yield to the power, control, or possession of another upon compulsion or demand. To be surrendered means to give up completely or agree to forgo especially in favor of another or to give oneself up into the power of another especially as a prisoner.
Are you willing today to surrender your fruitless pursuit of spirituality in favor of a life surrendered to God and being like Him?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Your Checkbook, For Your Eyes Only?

I was asked not too long ago to look at the checkbook of one of my friends/church members. I appreciated that they trusted me enough to view what some might think is a very personal matter. It started me thinking, what if we were to carry our monthly bank statement to the prayer closet and ask the Spirit to "search me and try me...". Would it make a difference in where your money goes?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Son, We Need To Talk

WARNING: If you willfully choose to go to the link that follows you will likely be subject to uncontrollable laughter, possibly even leading to elevated tear duct activity and a slight but joyful pain in one or more of your sides.

At what point does this family stop and think, "This situation might not be the best."?

Those of you who have had adult children return home can at least take some encouragement (or warning) from this story.

I know that we have a problem in this country with families not living together and enjoying the fruits of multi generational interaction but this situation might be just a little too much.

Questions? So, how much allowance does he get? How did the police reconcile them with a straight face? Why did the police even try to reconcile them? Does anyone else want to go eat Momma's cooking with me and see if it is really all that bad?

Saturday, August 04, 2007


Looks like I fell off the face of the earth for a while. See the last post of the Florida trip and suffice it to say we did the same thing through Sunday. We were there for a wedding that I was doing for one of my friends from work. We had it on the beach and it was beautiful! The cute and happy couple are displayed on the right.

The trip home was a one day deal as one of the sweet Godly women of our church had passed away. Her funeral meant that I really needed to work Monday. The funeral service was a great celebration of a life well lived. In one way it was easy to preach because there was no doubt in my mind about her salvation and the way she lived. On the other hand those funeral services are often hard to preach because the sermon has already been lived.

Yesterday we left for vacation number 2, Yellowstone. We drove a rear end numbing 13 hours to spend the night in the famous Kearney Nebraska. Ok, it may not be famous but it has at least one clean hotel!

We are off to see the "Home School Monument" this morning, otherwise known as Mount Rushmore National Monument. I am praying for an opportunity today to be a good and clear witness for Christ. Last night we asked our waitress how we could pray for her. She seemed grateful. What do you think of that practice?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Vacation Part 1, Day 4 The Joy of Nothingness

Got up, looked at beach, ate, went to swim at beach, ate, slept, read book, looked at beach, went to swim at beach, went out to eat. Food not as good as beach. Had coffee with Sweetie, looked at beach at night. Read book until I fell asleep.

I think I could get used to the vacation stuff. Is there any way to do this and get paid for it?

Number one son borrowed car to go get new cell phone. Why did we turn around yesterday and get the old one?

Does not matter. Look at beach and be calm.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Vacation, Part 1, Day 3 The Bama Saga

Today is my Brother Richard's birthday. Received and returned email from him. Prayed for his continued saftey on fulfilling the mission he is on in the field. Go Air Force!

Before leaving we take time to cross Stuckey Bridge over the Chunky River. It was built in the early 1900's and is a great example of a small suspension bridge. Ronnie says the local legend is that they hung a man on the bridge for killing a local judge in the 20's and the bridge has creeked ever since.

We stop at Dunne Falls. This has got to be the most natural creation of man I have ever heard about. There were no Falls. In the late 1800's someone noticed the cliffs and got the idea this would make a great place for a gristmill. They diverted the flow over one or more streams over the "Falls" and created a beautiful three tiered Falls into the Chunky.

As Dr. Seuss would say, "But that is not all." There is an old gristmill at the top of the Falls but it was not originally there. It is actually a mill from Georgia that was moved there and reassembled. We got to see the owner turn the big wheel pn for our enjoyment. Amazing what you can find just a little off the beaten track.

Leaving Enterprise, Mississippi to head through Alabama and on to Destin, FL. Turn around in Quitman, MS to go halfway back to Enterprise to retrive number one son's cell phone. Leave MS and enter the great State of Alabama.

Sweetie learns an interesting little fact about Alabama. All of the two lane highways in good 'ole Bama are 55 MPH. Nice State but in Texas we actually drive. Let's face it, 55 speed limit was the bad answer to the energy crisis of the 70's. Smilin' Jimmy from Plains, GA ain't the President any more so change the number and let my horsepower go!

Arrived, finally, USS Alabama in Mobile. Feelings for State of Alabama renewed after above dissapointment. We did not have time to tour the ship as our progress had been somewhat impeded by above mentioned driving fiasco. Still, we looked around and too a few solemn moments at the Korean and Vietnam memorials.

"You ain't gonna believe this" moment: I picked up a plastic model of the USS Alabama, turned it over and saw "Made in Japan". I'm all for free market forces but it would be nice to see "Made in the USA" on our models of military vessels.

Arrive Destin, Florida, white sand and emerald water. God had his game face on when He created this little slice of beach. Our Condo, paid for by my friend as I am doing the wedding, has a big window and balcony overlooking the beach. We are right on the water. Take the elevator down, through the double doors and you are on the beach. Life is good.

Beginning to think I may be able to relax.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Vacation, Part 1, Day 2 Emotional Rock and Roll

Someone asked what the difference in part 1 and day 1 is. The "Part 1" stands for the current trip to Florida for one of my buddies' weddings. "Part 2" will be the upcoming family trip to Yellowstone.

Ronnie loves to get up early and cook breakfast. I love Ronnie. After a relaxing morning in the country he takes me to retrieve a chest filled with stuff about my natural Father that my Grandmother had saved.

It was an emotional and difficult/rewarding experience. I did not grow up knowing my Father. My "Dad" is my Step-Father, Bill. Dale was my natural Father and I did not see him from around age 6 to around age 18. I call those the "missing years".

Anyway, you find out some interesting things about someone by combing through their history. My Father was an LSU fan, go figure.

Supper with more kinfolk at a Bar-B-Q restaurant in Waynesboro, MS. Since I did not think my Buddy Kevin McKenzie from McKenzie's Barbecue in Huntsville Texas would find out I went ahead and ordered "pulled pork". There are some things that other parts of the country actually does better than we do it in Texas. Barbecue ain't one of 'em.

Up late debriefing the trunk contents with cousins. They have really helped to sort though the emotional baggage and to fill in the blanks in my missing history.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Vacation Part 1, Day 1 (Sort of)

Worked a few hours in the morning, the sign of a sickness. The first step to beating the problem is admitting you have one. I have a problem, vacation is the answer.

Now begins the great drive. The first leg is from Huntsville to Enterprise, Mississippi. We arrive about an hour and a half later than we expect. Still, we have a great visit with Cousin Shirley and her husband Ronnie, their grandson Zack and "Harley", a cute and hyper little black dog of questionable heritage who loves my daughters.

We also have in tow for this trip one of Charissa's friends, Laken. We are very nervous about having Laken with us. We are not nervous because she has barely ever been out of Texas before. We are not nervous because she will be so far away from home. We are not nervous that this is the longest she has ever been away from her parents. We are nervous because she is so well behaved we are afraid we will corrupt her and send her home less than the perfect Jewel she is!

Trying to relax but did not sleep well. Why is it that the most difficult battles in life seem to be the battles of the mind. I was battling the idea of relaxing.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Indication or Interpretation?

When it comes to the Biblical account of creation I have heard well meaning interpretations, especially regarding the literal six days in which God created the earth. Ken Hamm of Answers in Genesis has recently sent out an email asking "Should Christians Divide..."(over this literal six days issue). I find it very interesting regarding some of the issues surrounding our Baptist Faith and Message that we affirm in order to be considered "cooperating" Baptist churches, denominational employees, etc.

My summary of Hamm's statement is that it gives gives two reasons why someone who takes a non-literal six days interpretation is really indicating a lack of belief in the authority of God's inerrant Word.

That issue may be seen in this question. What is the effect on someone affirming the Baptist Faith and Message, including it's statement of Biblical inerrancy, but taking a non-traditional view/interpretation of a portion of Scripture? In the case of the Answers in Genesis statement the argument is framed in these terms: Anyone who believes the Bible to be inerrant must believe that the six days of creation are literal days, not some other reference to "time periods".

I will admit up front that I wholeheartedly affirm a literal interpretation of Scripture and I personally believe the literal six day account of creation. I also believe that organizations like Answers In Genesis and The Institution For Creation Research have done a worthy job in putting up the science to back up the true historical account as we know it in the Bible.

My concern however is that there may be some area for interpretation that would allow for someone to view the days as time periods. For me this is not a Primary Doctrine, like the inerrncy of God's Word or the Deity of Jesus. It is to me an important Secondary Doctrine, something I would not say makes someone else an unbeliever if they disagree with me but someone who I would be wary of full cooperation, at least in certain aspects.

There is the rub. My personal opinion is that I would be wary of full cooperation with someone who did not INTERPRET Scripture the way I do but still claims the Bible as the authoritative and infallible Word of God. The Baptist Faith and Message, however, does not speak specifically to the "days of creation". Therefore, I am in fact cooperating with those who may INTERPRET Scripture differently than I do on this point.

I don't necessarily think that is always healthy but I can live with it. How about you?

Monday, July 09, 2007

News Blues

Sometimes you read a news story and for some reason it feels like a punch in the gut. With so many tragic and terrible news items every day we have become desensitized to the pain and suffering of others. Read about a murder and you think to yourself, "I'm glad that didn't happen to me/my family." Read about a rape? "Gosh, I need to talk to my daughter about being more careful." Drug overdose, "I'm glad my children would never do anything like that." Then we order our "Fourbucks" coffee and drive on to work/the baseball game/dinner/the movies.

All of a sudden one story comes out of our blind spot and smacks us into a sober awareness. That happened to me today. A twelve year old baby sitter was run over by her employer as he was taking her home. Read about it here:,2933,288702,00.html I read the story and can't figure out all the details but the police say after they both got out of the truck to investigate something related to the man's horses he got back in and whipped the truck around, striking the girl and killing her. Among other things the police have accused him of driving in an erratic manner. I upgraded my anger when I read the line about the man's actions, or inaction, in not taking the girl to the hospital until 5 am when the accident occurred about 11:30 PM the night before.

I guess this one got to me because I have a 12 year old daughter. As with so many crimes and even accidents this one just seems so senseless, so easily avoidable. I am trying to have compassion on the man who did this. How would Jesus treat him? What would the Master think? Every time I do think about it I see myself in that situation. What would I do? I am so very afraid I would meet recklessness with reckless retribution.

I am glad that God is not that way. I understand the heartfelt passion behind the cry of David, "Against thee and thee only have I sinned!" While I might want to strike out at someone who could do so foolish a thing, accident though it might be, I am at the same time thankful that God is not that way. Otherwise I, along with you, would have been "smited" long ago.

Pray for the family of that young girl. Hold your own children/grandchildren tight tonight or the next time you see them. Praise God for His rich mercy. Reach out to someone no one else seems to want to reach out to in love. Place your anger at the foot of the cross.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Vacation Bible School

This week is VBS at our church. We have done more advertising this year than I can remember doing before. I hope and pray it will be a huge success. I am praying for not only children to be brought to a relationship with Jesus but also for families to be brought to Him or back to Him, whatever the case may be.

Please pray also that I will not be called on to testify at a trial this week. It would severely hamper my already crowded work schedule and leave it almost impossible to be present for any of the VBS.

Just another thought. VBS is one of the best "come and see" strategies we still use. The challenge today is that we need more "go and tell" strategies. How is your church/ministry getting out of the "inviting" business and into the "going" business?

Monday, July 02, 2007

New SBCOutpost

The new SBCOUTPOST site is up and running. I think it will be a good sounding board and discussion site for those interested in all things Southern Baptist. The contributors are a variety of younger leaders in the SBC but the folks who comment come from an even broader spectrum. Just reading the conversations on the old site have helped me understand a lot of things related to the direction of our denomination.

Sunday, July 01, 2007


It just is not fair. Why should I be called and allowed to teach, proclaim and share God's Word? It is so rewarding I should have to pay to do it. Instead, I get paid again and again. Sometimes the pay come in very unexpected ways.

First, let me help everyone. Never do anything for the pat on the back or the reward you will receive. If you are doing it for the praise of man you are doing it for the wrong reason. This applies to ministry and to just about anything in life. The only "attaboy!" that really counts is the one in heaven.

That's why when someone does go way out of their way to bless you it means so much. Blessings are like that; they tend to gain in value when they are unexpected. That happened to me today.

It came in the form of a one page handwritten letter. It was from someone that Sweetie and I have evidently impacted in our ministry. The words were crafted very carefully to convey both a message of thanks and an explanation for the remainder of the gift. The gift was not large in size but it was a perfect (and practical) tool for the expression of thanksgiving. It is something I can carry nearly every day and use whenever needed. It may not be of huge monetary value but it represented a significant investment on the part of the giver. I am awed and humbled.

It meant so much to me I am challenged to do something out of the ordinary and unexpected for someone else this week. How about you? Who could you bless?

Friday, June 29, 2007

Icehouse Ministry

Our church building is located on a Farm to market Road that is heavily used by motorcycle riders, especially on weekends. I would say that about a hundred pass by our church every Sunday, maybe more. (I am not pulling that figure out of thin air; it's basis is grounded in the number of people stopping at a new Icehouse a few miles down the road.

We have been burdened to reach out to these people whom God deeply loves. My first (satire) idea was to put up a roadblock and divert them through the church parking lot. I thought about trying to open up our gym as a place to stop and use the restroom or get a cup of cold water. I knew in my heart this would not work. We kept praying and looking.

Several months ago a new place opened up called Drifters Icehouse. We pass it at least every Sunday and every Wednesday on the way to church. Shortly after it opened we drove by around lunch one day and counted somewhere between 80-100 bikes there. We prayed and decided they were not going to come to us so we would go to them. Last Sunday Sweetie and I made our first trip to Drifters for lunch. We left our kids with another couple in the church and headed off to the new experience.

Our goal this first time was just to check things out (we figured we might stand out) and, if possible, to meet the owners and people working there. We did not stand out that much. We were not the only people in a car and most of the people were in our age range. many were dressed in the black and leather trappings of the stereotypical biker but some others were not. The truth is most of the people were from moderately upscale suburbs, white collar jobs during the week, black collar fun on the weekends.

We also met the owners. They were really nice down to earth folk and even hugged us when we left. I had a pastor friend who had a motorcycle ministry back in the 70's and 80's. He is in heaven and unavailable for advice. I do remember him telling me one time that bikers are very in to physical contact. They like hugging. I think he may have been ministering to a slightly different clientele but it seemed true for this crew as well.

To be completely honest I had some humanly concerns about this heavenly ministry. Jesus is THE role model. He hung out with prostitutes and tax gatherers. Most of the people I saw were just ordinary people. Nevertheless I had in my mind the question of what others would think when they saw us there. It is hard to overcome the pull of the flesh toward Christian legalism!

Our ultimate goal is to develop relationships, share the love of Christ and possibly start a Bible Study there before the regular opening time, even if it's just for the staff.

What do you think? What ideas do you have that might work for this ministry?

I Ain't As Used As I Young To Be

Last week Sweetie and I took a group to Youth Camp. I always said I was not going to be one of those people who could not hang with the youth in anything they did. Now I am one of those people who cannot hang with the youth in everything they do.

I prayed for three things: 1) That God would move in the lives of the kids. He did. 2) That Sweetie and i would come back sane. I did. 3) That our Rec Team would win!!! We did!!! Go Blue Crew!

If you have not been to a Student Life Camp pack up your youth and some earplugs and go. It was a great experience even if we did drive all the way to San Angelo TX to do it. (Directions to San Angelo: Drive about 3/4 the way across Texas than go on another hour.)

Thanks to those of you who prayed.

Anyway, the students and I had a good discussion. They were really impressed with the way the camp used so much multimedia to keep things going in an exciting and supercharged way. Worship times included drama, videos, praise band and speaker. They wanted to know why we could not do more of that in our worship services. I told them if they will come up with the skits we can do it. We were already looking at how to incorporate some videos on a regular basis. My fear is that anything we do will not live up to the professional standards they experienced at camp.

Someone once told me that we do camp the wrong way. We take the kids out and let them worship in a way that is very appealing to them then bring them back to the local church where things are as they were. I can see how that could be a problem but I still think everyone needs a way to worship God corporately in a way that draws them to God best.

What do you think?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

San Antonio A Bit Late

No good reason, just an excuse, but after we returned from San Antonio I had to hit it pretty hard at work in time to take our youth to Student Life Camp in San Angelo (TX). If you ever need to go to San Angelo just drive as far as you think you can across Texas and then go on another hour or so.

Sweetie and I drove home late Wednesday night and made it fine because there was plenty to talk about. A few highlights and a conclusion. We passed several silly resolutions. Why do we have to have a resolution to give our thanks and blessing to the city, the organizers and the people who decided what drinks to stock in the vending machines? It wastes time we could have spent doing something like, I don't know, perhaps debating some of the very timely and worthy issues of our Convention. Wouldn't a simple thank you suffice? Anyone within the Convention should have a grateful attitude about serving anyway. Anyone outside the Convention doesn't know the difference between a Resolution to thank them and a simple thank you. If it has to be formal put it on stationary and let Morris and Frank sign it.

We passed several good resolutions, especially the one regarding child abuse and sexual predators. This resolution was important in my opinion and seems to me to be something "doable" within Southern Baptist Polity. I am nervous about the details of the way names would be added to the list. I have read the online description of the BGCT's list and frankly it scares me. If the SBC does not act in a more careful manner I think it will add injury to shame (shame on us, not shame on the victim). In addressing the issue of "credible charge" of child abuse I heard one person say (not on the Convention floor)that even if someone happened to be falsely accused all they would lose is their career. Excuse me but that sounds like a pretty substantial loss. Destroying someone else adds another crime to the horrible one that has already occurred. It seems to me that a three step approach of 1) Using SBC resources to assist and educate churches on background checks and screening of workers, 2) a list of convicted sex offenders involved in church or ministry positions and 3) support of civil prosecution of churches and their leaders who knowingly and willingly cover up or fail to inform other churches of a convicted molester or rapist if it is within their power to do so.

I know some will legitimately disagree with #2 and say that we already have national and state agencies reporting these but a more narrow parameter of likely suspects is, to me, a more responsible and reasonable approach. Governmentally, we just need to enforce existing laws. Denominationally we need to support efforts like this to help our churches function in the best manner to protect our children. Personally, like many of you, I have to muster a whole bucket load of grace to minister to someone who has committed crimes against children. I can at least understand crimes driven by greed, selfishness, anger and bitterness. Crimes against children and any crime designed purposefully to hurt someone else I have a hard time digesting.

As good as this discussion was and as good as the Resolution is I still wonder whether it does us any good to pass Resolutions at all. My wife has been witnessing to someone she met while in San Antonio at the Convention. I don't know if this person developed their opinion from news media or scuttlebutt but they sent my wife an email asking why "Southern Baptists had refused to take a stand against child abuse". The strange sound you just heard was your jaw hitting the keyboard in front of you. I ask you to pray about making sure your church is doing it's best to do the right thing in protecting children.

The Global Warming Resolution: I don't think this Resolution will amount to anything but I voted for it anyway and was glad that a floor motion removed the support for more government funding and research. As if the science behind the Global Warming crowd were not shaky enough let's add a few billion dollars into the kitty. The National Weather Service only chases hurricanes during the warm months of the year, and then not the entirety of each month. That should leave plenty of opportunity to invest a little time and research into the matter. Additionally, it will offer some welcome relief to storm chasing and providing educated guesses to lots of people on TV with big hair and bad suits. I know I am being flippant (and very tacky!) but I just don't buy the whole concept.

The Resolution that did not make it out of Committee but was then brought back to the floor regarding integrity in church membership reporting was an embarrassment. By refusing to pass it we put ourselves in the sad position of voting against telling the truth. Way to go, Brothers and Sisters! The Resolution part of this may be meaningless anyway. Is there anything that would stop the denomination (Executive Committee?) from just reporting the Resident Membership of churches from the ACP rather than the total? At least this would be a step in the right direction. We could even turn it into a 12 step program and Lifeway could market it as a thirteen week Bible Study! I guess I am just not sophisticated enough to understand this.

I think the Resolutions Committee did us a disservice by refusing to bring the Gluttony Resolution to the floor. It would have provided no small amount of entertainment to the Convention. It would have been one of the most Biblically solid Resolutions we have ever passed. It would have served as an additional "non-binding" encouragement for me personally to exercise and lose weight. On second thought it might not be such a good idea because it very well could have destroyed the entire structure of no small number of churches. After all, they would not be able to "form a committee, table it and eat". Snicker, snicker.

One more statement just to get me in trouble with either side of the "aisle". I don't think it mattered one jot, tittle, iota or subscript whether Jim Richards or David Rogers won the 1st VP election. Both were excellent choices from everything I can tell. Neither seems to be off target in anything I have read. Richards' leadership of the SBCT has been noteworthy, especially in missions giving. Our church ha not yet partnered with the SBTC but I suspect it will happen. We are currently still in the BGCT but have bypassed the horrendous funding mechanism of the BGCT and instead designated our contributions on a 50/50 basis. David Rogers seems to be doing a phenomenal job on the overseas mission field. I just don't think there was a "bad vote" offered. If it makes anyone feel better they can put my name on the ballot next year and then people will really have someone to vote against!

This brings me to Ed Stetzer. Use the superlative of your own choosing and it would not be enough to express my praise and thankfulness of this man. I have not heard or read anything from him (I will admit to reading only two books so far) that I would consider off base. As a matter of fact I think most people hear him and they couldn't come up with an argument against whatever he said anyway. God has blessed us with this man, sort of a combination of George Barna, Rick Warren and Peter Wagner. If you don't like one or more of those choices I am sorry but just chalk it up to how messed up I am!

Last thought. There has got to be a better way to do our business. I don't know what it is yet but there has to be a better way. I agree with others that it is time to move from the model of "Olde Tyme" and into the computer, Internet, information age. Even if we maintain a system such as we have we could set something up with "assigned speakers" to motions we know will come up. The "assigned speakers" could state their affirmation or objection to the issue, perhaps even issuing their own pre-convention position papers. Then the debate could be opened up to the floor in normal parliamentary procedure. I love it when I have a good idea!

Enough of my drivel. Get back to work or go spend time with your family. There are any number of pursuits that would be better than reading this!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Thursday Convention Delay

I apologize that I have not posted anything about Thursday's Convention proceedings. We arrived home around 1 AM or so and I had to be at work early. Aside from not having much time I am still tired. Being tired often leads to things that you might not really intend to say. I'll try to get it going tonight.


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Wednesday Morning at the SBC

The report of Morris Chapman from the Executive Committee and the motion passed last night to affirm the Baptist Faith and Message as our statement of doctrinal agreement, accountability or co-operation seemed very understandable to me.

Now after hearing several prominent seminary presidents speak I have been "enlightened" that they do not understand this in the same clear way. Apparently I should have stayed in Seminary longer. I guess you have to have a certain number of letters behind your name before you can understand that the thing which clearly means "this" instead means "that", the exact opposite of "this". Am I right about this? :>) Of course I'm right.

Allow me though to express a small degree of righteous anger. I have heard several people disparage the leadership of the SBC by our President, Frank Page. He has conducted himself with love and respect throughout this entire time. As far as Sweetie and I can tell he has exuded a sincere love for everyone he has addressed, even when they may not have deserved such graceful treatment. I am glad he is my President.

PS: There was another President who addressed the Convention this morning. This one from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. He had a great message but I still wish he would do more to close the security risks at our borders. Nevertheless his stand on right to life issues has been commendable.

Tuesday at the Southern Baptist Convention

Welcome to the world's largest deliberative body, the Southern Baptist Convention. If anyone could design a more backwards system for making decisions in the 21st Century I can't imagine what it would be. It is mayhem and madness. I love it!

I missed a few things yesterday but Sweetie has been here since Sunday night, taking in the entire Pastor's Conference and all the sessions yesterday (first day of the actual convention). There were many upbeat reports yesterday. God is doing some wonderful things. The International Mission Board report was very encouraging and ended with thousands of us at the altar, praying for God's mission to a lost world. Jerry Rankin put an interesting number into perspective. There are currently an estimated 1.6 billion people around the world who do not have a witness telling them about Jesus. He made the point that there have not been 1.6 billion minutes to pass since Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Wow!

The report on New Orleans Baptist Seminary needed to be bottled and sent to every church in the SBC. God has done a great thing, an awesome thing. The seminary is just about rebuilt. The Lord has provided in that 56 million of the 57 million needed to rebuild the school has been received. I thought we should just take up an offering last night. If all 8500 messengers have $117.34 we would have that million dollars behind us!

One point of contention was debated and hopefully settled in the way that I think it should have been. First, Morris Chapman, our SBC Executive Director gave the Executive Committee report and as part of it was very strong that the Baptist Faith and Message is the only doctrinal statement that we should use as Southern Baptists to determine cooperation with each other. Some people have tried to add all sorts of things "in addition" in order for someone to be considered as co-operating. A motion was later made to affirm the BFM 2000 as our only statement of faith and to encourage the boards, institutions and entities of the SBC to operate accordingly. We will get the official vote tally this morning but from the first glance floor vote it looked like this motion was approved. I think this is a good thing.

I wish there were a way to transport the whole church here and let them see that God is working in so many ways beyond our local churches. Yesterday I was very delighted to be called a Southern Baptist Christian. Of course you can see part of it, both live and archived at

Look on the left hand side of the page and click on "Watch the 2007 Annual Meeting".

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Bi-Vocational Tear

Looks like I will not be going to the Southern Baptist Convention in San Antonio next week. That is one of the drawbacks to bi-vocational ministry; sometimes the "regular" job has it's demands. ("Regular" job implies that the ministry position is somehow "irregular". Hmm. I would like to disagree with the idea that most Pastors I know are "irregular" but unfortunately I don't seem to be able to think of any rebuttal material right now!)

Anyway, my little Sweetie is going to make it so at least one of us will be having a good time next week. I wonder which one?

San Antonio seems like it will be an interesting Convention. For the first time in history, so I have been told, a current International Mission Board Missionary will be nominated to serve as an officer. David Rogers will be nominated and will likely be "running" against Jim Richards, Executive Director of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. I think either one could be a good choice but I am rooting for David. I just think it would be cool. If Jim Richards is elected it will also be a testimony to doing things right. He has led the SBCT to pass along more of Cooperative Program dollars to the Southern Baptist Convention than they retain for SBCT work here in Texas.

There will likely be several interesting revolutions, I mean Resolutions offered. Cooperative Program Support, Questions over the wording and or use of the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, Private Prayer Languages and Gluttony seem to be especially publicity related and have garnered their supporters both right and ultra right.

There will be mixed reports from many agencies. My almamater Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth will have a report that says the once largest Seminary in the world now has about half the students it had when I attended in the late 80's. Other Seminaries will report an increase in enrollment (Southern and Southeastern). One will report renewal from the flood waters, New Orleans.

I pray for unity. I pray for us to not do anything stupid and for us not to say anything stupid that makes us look like schmucks in the media. Perhaps there will be more focus on worship and evangelism this year than politics. Either way Sweetie will tell me when she gets back. I have given her strict husbandly orders NOT to go to a microphone and speak. I'll let you know how that works out!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Death Of A Chicken

Last night my wife was hostess to a group of ladies she meets with monthly. It is not a serious spiritual event or anything like that they just meet, play games, exchange gifts, fight over gifts and whatever else it is that ladies do when they get together unsupervised.

I have humorously accuse them several times of being some sort of cult group. I don't know why it brings me such delight to do this nor do I understand the consternation it seems to cause the accusees. (That's them what are a bein' called cult memers.) Having never been a cult member myself I assume that real cult members do things like meditate in creepy ways and sacrifice small animals or have a secret handshake.

As far as I can tell they were all quite well behaved last night but we did lose a chicken. Hmmm.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

A Military At War

My Brother Richard is in the sandbox, the affectionate term for the Middle East. We praise God we were able to spend time with him before he left. I cannot imagine the heartache of separation that my Sister in Law and my Nephew and Niece must be experiencing. Our church family prays for them every week; some, I hope, are praying for him every day.

I have always looked up to my Brother. He was always teaching me about sports and life. He taught me to be careful and defend myself when we lived in England where Dad was stationed. He taught me to hit a baseball and how to take a hit from a wild pitch. (He once convinced me that all I had to do when getting hit by a baseball was to think "tennis ball, tennis ball, tennis ball". I did not remain convinced for long!)

I have admired his military service. I am thankful for what he has done for our country. Before he left he described one of the problems of our country. He said, "We are a military at war, not a nation at war". I have to agree. Even though my Brother is there I go about most of my everyday life thinking about good things (discovering the will of the Father and pursuing it) and ordinary things (work, inspection stickers, getting prescriptions refilled). In the "big wars" our nation went to war. There were sacrifices made by all. When it was over the nation then returned to normalcy. As it stands now our nation is in a state of normalcy and our military is at war.

The war in Iraq and Afghanistan is just that, war. I support that war because I believe it to be in the interest of the people of these countries who for too long have been dominated by egotistic dictators who have supported terrorism, the cowards way of waging war against innocent bystanders, women and children. I support that war because I believe it to be in the best interests of the world to keep weapons, especially weapons of mass destruction, out of the hands of the same iron fisted conscience challenged dictators. Despite what latte the bloated unaccountable press says one can simply ask the Kurdish people if Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. I support the war because I believe it to be in the best interests of the United States of America and our close allies in the region. Have we forgotten that we have allies for the sake of standing together against oppression? If we do not stand with our allies we are relieved of our moral character and unfit for duty as the remaining superpower of our world.

When I hear misguided people say that we are not "the world's policeman I cringe at ignorance. First of all when did being a policeman become a negative designation? Second, along with great blessing comes great responsibility. Defending the poor and the helpless is something both the teachings of Jesus and the more liberal people of our day claim is a central goal of their agenda. It defies logic to say that the poor and defenseless should be defended and then protest when they actually are defended. Does our responsibility stop at the border? Does our responsibility stop when the people we help are of a different ethnicity than the majority of U.S. citizens? Somehow I cannot bring myself to make those kind of distinctions.

I am sure there is a substantial amount of criticism that is fairly leveled at those in charge of this war. On the other hand I know that war is not an exact science and that mistakes are how we learn to fight the next battle. If you do not believe that then think about this, it is my understanding that more soldiers were killed TRAINING for D-Day than have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is a great loss when one soldier is killed, but is a greater cost to refuse to do that which we must do.

Do I think my comments will make a difference in America? They will probably not. Yet for those of you reading this today perhaps they will make a difference in the way you think about our country right now. Perhaps on the way to the dry cleaners this morning you will think about the wrinkled uniform of an American soldier slowly making his way through a rough neighborhood in Iraq. On your way to work as you pull through a drive through window remember that the car you are riding in is a far cry from the Humvee that our warriors ride in today. I invite you to change your way of thinking. I invite you to remember those who serve this morning as those who stand between you and the destruction of our way of life. I invite you to remember that we are a nation at war. I invite you to be a nation at war.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Well Oiled Machine

Disclaimer: Nothing in the following post is intended to mean that I think or am implying any of the following:
1) That Dacus Baptist Church is perfect.
2) That I have achieved any success in leading the church or that if the church has accomplished anything worthwhile that I had anything to do with it.
3) That there was an additional shooter on the grassy knoll.

I will be attending a special Men's Ministry event at our church building tonight. I had nothing to do with the planning of the event (as I have not had anything to do planning wise with any regularly scheduled or special men's event in more than a year). I can count on one finger the number of times I have been on a hospital visit in the past year and I have been the first member of our church to be there. Our Youth and Children's Ministry is exploding and other than looking at the background checks I can't remember who all is doing what as a part of that ministry.

In Ephesians 4:1 Paul tells us to "Walk in a manner worthy of our calling..." Last time I checked we are all called as Christians to be ministers and to be obedient to the Father's will. Sometimes the Pastor should just get out of the way and let the people do what they are called to do! I have told our people that they do not need my permission to minister. I would much rather deal with the problems of someone getting a little too carried away or going over the line than to deal with a dead church sucking the joy out of life and getting on my last nerve. As Hannibal used to say on The A-Team, "I love it when a plan comes together!"

Monday, May 21, 2007

Survey Says

Cignet Health Services survey says:

46% turn to faith based healing first.
21% turn to medical care from a Doctor or hospital first.

Hmmm. What do you think that means? How should the church respond?

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Graduation Day


As your name means you truly are a gift from God. You will never know the deep joy you have brought to the lives of your Godly Mother and I. It started with me talking to you while still in the womb and addressing you as "Junior". Then I ran down the hospital corridor in Fort Worth yelling, "It's a boy, it's a boy!"

I remember the great time we spent together during the time between Seminary graduation and our next assignment in Ladonia Texas. Your Mom worked at General Dynamics so I was Mr. Mom for that time.

The town of Ladonia Texas remembers the little boy who would follow me back and forth with his plastic mower as I mowed the grass at the church parsonage. The church there remembers the cute little boy whom a certain Deacon taught to throw rocks at the cars in the church parking lot! I remember holding you down and nearly fainting as the Doctor stitched you up.

I remember your first day of school in Henderson. Even though your new classroom was only three doors around the corner from my office it seemed like you were a world away. I remember Scooter, the tenacious little weenie dog who was always yours. I remember the first day of home schooling and how I thought we would likely just do it a few years. Today you will graduate with a whole "class" of home schoolers.

I remember soccer, and T-ball, basketball and football. Seems like I remember a broken arm during the football part. (I'm sorry it took me four days to figure out your arm was really broken!) I remember our first Astros game. The Giants beat our Astros 6-3. (Two young players named Biggio and Bagwell scored twice and had three hits. We watched them do that for two decades. We are still watching Biggio do it today!) I remember you catching a bigger fish than me. The picture is still in our house.

I remember you complaining that you had to mow. It was no accident that I was the one who came to pick you up from Youth Camp so you could tell me on the drive home that God had called you to be a Worship Leader. I remember your first guitar. I remember you turning the other cheek, not because you are the Pastor's son but because you are the Father's child.

I remember the smile on your face the day we gave you your truck. I remember the lump in my throat as your Mother and I drove the 15 miles on that rainy night to get you out of the ditch where your truck had landed after you hit the tree. We had no peace in our hearts until we actually saw you and decided you were ok. I remember how proud I was of myself for not yelling at you until the next day! I remember thinking of how thankful I was that I sold the 1966 Red Convertible GTO before you were able to drive! I remember how bad I felt that you were never able to drive it.

I remember the fits you have given your Mother. You realize don't you that when you stir her up I am the one who has to go to the bedroom and get an earful don't you!?

I will remember today. I am so proud of you. You will walk across that stage and your Mom and I will hand you a diploma. We will stop just seven paces away, stand on the tape and someone will take a picture to mark the end of your high school career. Your Mother did a great job and I enjoyed being the "Principal" and bossing her around! You will walk across that stage as a man of integrity, far beyond anything I ever was.

You have run this course of the race well. I am not going to lie to you and tell you that the next leg is easy. College is a joy but at times it is an uphill climb into the face of a cold wind. At times you will feel like giving up. Don't. I am glad that you are going to our Alma mater, East Texas Baptist University. I am sad and terrified that you are going to move away from home in August to do it. (once more, remember whose you are!)

Here is my Fatherly advice. You only get one earthly life, make the most of it; don't leave anything on the table. Trust in God; trust Him with all your heart. Never limit your vision; if He can call you to do it then by His power you can do it! There are two things that last forever, the Word of God and the souls of men; major in both. When you feel like giving up remember to cast all your cares upon Him for He cares for you. Do your best and you will have no regrets. Remember I will come to you any time, any place by any means I can. Just call. Remember prayer IS the relationship with God. Sing every day. See blue skies. Watch great sunsets. Share many sunrises with God. Love the girl you marry more than you love us. Be patient with my grandchildren (when they get here). If the Lord tarries, smile at my funeral and at your Mother's. Always watch Jesus.


Friday, May 18, 2007

Something To Crow About

I am feeling very MANLY (insert Ahhhnold Shwartenegger voice). I slew a giant venomous monster that was crouching and waiting to strike one of my unsuspecting little gifts of God as they innocently went to collect the few meager eggs from our beloved hens that would be their sole source of sustenance for the day! OK, I killed a cottonmouth in the backyard between here and the barn. (Note to country boys who think the city slicker does not know what he is talking about: I know it was a moccasin because a) It tried to bite me b) I made sure by looking it up on the Texas Poisonous Snakes website c) the big triangular head and white mouth were kind of a clue and d) Granny said so when she walked out to make sure I had adequately dispatched yon viper.)

The funny thing about "The Great Snake Incident" is the way we found the snake. After supper we were looking out the back window and saw four crows who kept hopping back and forth as if they were jumping over something. We thought it was strange and so Robin sent me to investigate. There he lay, coiled up and in a foul mood. I guess crows have the same effect on him as the Wal-Mart birds, also known as grackles, have on me. Anyway, he was not very pleasant with me and he didn't seem to understand the concept that my shotgun had a longer range than his fangs.

This has changed my outlook on crows. I used to think that crows were so bad that they were even telling the deer where I was at. Now I find that they are the next best thing to having a cat! Anyway, here is your life lesson. Go find something good about someone or something you don't like or appreciate. Anyone know where I can get a "Hug A Crow" bumper sticker?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Passing Of A Patriot

The news yesterday recorded the passing of Pastor Jerry Falwell, planter and Pastor of the mega-sized Thomas Road Baptist Church and founder of Liberty University. He is most famous in the news for his leadership in it's prime during the late 70's and 80's but lasting through the current decade, of the "religious right". He founded a group called "The Moral Majority" and brought conservative Christian influences to the political and governmental landscape. While it is hard for many of us to agree with absolutely everything he said or did I found myself agreeing much more than disagreeing. His usefulness to our country came at a time when a fresh breath of morality and values were desperately needed in a country left drifting from the disappointments of the 60's and 70's.

He is less known in the media but admired among fellow believers for his work in founding and growing Thomas Road BC and Liberty University. His most lasting achievements will likely be these two organizations. What many in the public failed to see was his deep love for people, his faithfulness to God and his down to earth attitude. Those who knew him personally (I did not)almost always refer to his kind demeanor, unpretentious nature and individual concern for those around him. His humility came through in his own admission that some of the things he said were a little over the top. Unlike many other public figures when he realized this he was usually quick with a PUBLIC admission.

It is a shame that the movement he started did not penetrate our society more deeply. He condemned homosexuality and the radical agenda of the godless voices of the nation but never seemed to lose his love for sinners in need of God's grace. On the day of his death several organizations which have opposed him throughout the years responded with a seemingly happy attitude about his death. Too bad his message could not change the hatefulness of those who would angrily defend their right to debauchery.

I certainly am not saying he was a saint. I am very uncomfortable with many of the things he said and did and some of the criticism levelled at him was justified. I note however that his attitude about his death was very different than those who opposed him. His last message to his church family was, "I am at peace with death".

Agree or not with his agenda but he lived a life that counted. May we do the same.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Great Candy Caper

Texas Man Charged With Stealing $250G Worth of Skittles Candy, read about it here:,2933,272352,00.html I guess some addictions are irresistible. I wasn’t even aware there was a black market for Skittles. I beseech you to ask yourself, “Do I have a Skittles problem?” Admitting it is the first step in beating the problem.

Please comment if you like, I would especially like to hear from recovering Skittles addicts!

The Mishap of Mistakenism

Until today “mistakenism” was not a Word. This changes everything! Jesus always had just the right thing to say. Think about it. The words He spoke were very pointed, useful and “with authority” to the people of His day. Still, the skillfulness with which He crafted His words brings them swinging like a powerful punch right in to the 21st Century where they are as useful and straightforward as they were the day He spoke them.

In dealing with the religious legalism of the day, a fatal malady that ends the witness of more churches today than anything else I can list, Jesus spoke these words in Mark 12: 24:

24Jesus answered and said to them, “Are you not therefore mistaken, because you do not know the Scriptures nor the power of God?

I like how The Message, a modern day paraphrase puts it:

24Jesus said, “You’re way off base, and here’s why: One, you don’t know your Bibles; two, you don’t know how God works

Jesus’ bottom line teaching is that we are often mistaken. There is no question about it. "If you think you ain't, you is"! The interesting part of the teaching is that being mistaken is the symptom but Jesus also identified the disease. We become mistaken when we do not know the Word of God. I am reminded of some other words of Jesus, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that shall proceed from the mouth of God”. The apostle Paul fleshed that out by saying, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” If you are not pursuing the knowledge of His Word, you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of knowing less of Him that He desires. You are being content with dirty water from the puddle when He wants you to drink freely from the fresh, cool spring of His written wellspring.

There are two streams of thought on the last part of this verse. One is that we also don’t know the power of God. Perhaps we should be seeking the power of God in the same way as we are to be seeking the Word of God. That would mean that we need to be seeking the Lord and yielding our lives to Him. The other interpretation I like better, we don’t have the power of God because we do not know His Word. It seems we often suffer from the listlessness of an unfruitful life when God would have us slicing through the deep waters, both calm and storm tossed, to boldly reach the destination of His will.

Happy sailing.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Mother's Day Roundup

About the only thing you can do to get in trouble on Mother's Day is to forget it or to bad moth someone's Mamma. For someone like me who sort of "looks for trouble" this is a challenge. Like many churches we do the little Mother's Day ritual of giving away corsages to certain Moms. We usually do the oldest Mother, Mother with the most children and the Mother with the youngest child. Yesterday I told the church we were going to do things a little differently. I told them (in jest) that we were going to recognize the most Godly Mother, the Mother with the Godliest children and the Most Improved Mother, someone who was a pretty lousy Mother this time last year but has shown great improvement over the last year. We all had a great laugh and did it the old way. Forgive me for my thoughts but I really could have picked those three out of the people in attendance!

I don't understand high attendance on Mother's Day. I know some of those folks are coming to please their Mothers or because of tradition and I certainly don't mind that some of the people are lost. I guess I am not so confused about Mother's Day as I am about why believers would forsake the church so many other Sundays. Let's have a teach the Pastor day. Please explain one or both of the following Scriptures to me:

  • Hebrews 10:24-25 24And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
  • And/Or any portion of 1 Corinthians 12 you want to teach to me.
Both of these Scriptures have implications far beyond mere attendance. Based on your reading: how often, how consistently and why should we be at church?

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

A Tale of Two Tombs

Congatulations are in order for Israeli archeologists who have located the tomb of Herod the Great. Herod was the famous ruler of Jerusalem who built the temple which was in use in Jesus' time. He was also the first of a series of infamous Herods who seemed to have a pull toward evil (incest, murder, rejection of the One True God). Read about the find here:,2933,270575,00.html

This is an important find yet I find it ironic that man continues to pursue dead people rather than the living Lord. The hill on which the tomb has been found is "clearly visible from Jerusalem". Apparently scholars are sure they have the right place, a place that was used to house the corpse of a truly dead person. Maybe they should be focusing on the empty tomb in Jerusalem rather than the tomb of Herod.

Jesus only used his tomb three days. Herod appears to have needed his two thousand years or more. Why not pursue the One whose tomb is empty? It took Herod many years to build the stone temple and the wall around Jerusalem. Today only a portion of that wall remains and the mound on which the temple, destroyed in A.D. 71, stood is home to a Muslim mosque. Jesus said if you destroyed the real temple (Himself) the He would raise it again in three days. He did. Why not seek the King who sits on His royal throne forever? Herod built up the place known in Jesus' time as Jerusalem. Jesus is building a New Jerusalem. It is a place where there will be no more need for dead men's tombs.

What do you think?

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Variety Is The Spice Of Life

This is a followup to my Doctor's visit a few weeks ago. The Dr. ordered an MRI and a new EEG. The EEG showed that my medication seems to be helping. The MRI showed nothing related to the seizures I have been having. It did, however, uncover a different problem. It seems I have an aneurysm in my internal carotid artery. I am scheduled to have an MRA (MRI's brother?) soon and then meet with another neurologist to see if this is something worth worrying about. In the meantime I have forbidden anyone from worrying about it and if it turns out to be challenging news then I will appeal for everyone to refrain from worry in accordance with Philippians 4:7-8.

The health roller coaster is so much fun! The really interesting part is that many people want to know how I "feel" about this. My honest answer is that at first I felt shock, then a little fear. Now, I just don't know how I feel. My Godly wife wanted me to tell some of the other men of the church how I was feeling. We had a Deacon's meeting and I complied. I shared two things. First, I really feel like fishing. Second, I honestly do not know how I feel. They were quite content with both of these feelings. Sweet and Precious was not nearly as content.

Let's face it. This could be something very serious or it could be a total non event. The serious part makes me want to prepare for anything bad that might happen. I reminded her where the will is and where the insurance policies are and who to call for financial help. Trust God and be as prepared as possible. That is the only thing I know I can do.

There have been some positive effects to this. Yesterday I went golfing with my Dad, my son and my brother Richard. Rich is about to be deployed so we were glad to get to spend a day with him. We played a five hour round of golf at a local muni. (Dad's club was booked as we did not know we would get the chance to play until the day before.) I decided that just to be on the safe side of things I would refuse to get angry. I figured that blowing a gasket might be a sure fire way of blowing out a vessel. Anyway, regardless of my reasoning I had a very different time on the course. I played horribly but each time I hit a bad shot, and there were many, I just started laughing. You would be amazed at how much fun I had shooting a terrible score!

The thing that makes this even more amazing is that I am by nature a little on the competitive side. My motto has always been, "It does not matter whether you win or lose, it matters whether I win or lose!" My brother beat me by three strokes and I still had a great time. Three generations were looking at me in wide eyed wonder expecting the usual outbursts, mumblings and Tiger Woods like sulking that usually accompany getting beat. I think my son even asked, "Who are you and what have you done with my Father?'

Anyway, the variety of health situations I have had have spiced things up. Who would have thought that an MRI could lead to a more fun golf game!? Variety really is the spice of life!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Witness or Worry

A blogging Pastor I know (not me) was invited by a neighbor to a block party the neighbor was hosting. There would be alcoholic beverages involved although the Pastor is personally convicted that he should not drink. (His family has a history of alcoholism.)

This Pastor was really struggling with the decision of whether to attend or not. On the one hand it would be a great opportunity to meet and potentially minister to a boatload (think fish!) of lost people. On the other hand what would others think if they saw him there, or even saw him going there?

I have a definite opinion which I feel is Scripturally based.

What do you think?

A Noah's Ark

People often ask me questions about science and the Bible. As far as I have seen the Bible never contradicts scientific fact and scientific fact certainly never contradicts the Bible. Our "scientific" assumptions are often wrong and our understanding of the Biblical text is sometimes wrong but the two, when based upon fact, have never yet proven to be in opposition.
One of the questions I get asked is in relation to Noah's ark. Here is a link to a man in the Netherlands who has built a "full scale" replica of the ark:,2933,269090,00.html
I say full scale because by his own admition the real ark would have been five times this size. This model took two years to build using modern tools. You can understand why it would take Noah a lot longer! First he had to cut his own wood. Then he andd the boys had to do it by hand.
This display are has life size models of many animals. One thing I like to remember is that the Bible does not say that Noah took only adult animals with him. If you allow for the size of the ark and at least some of the animals being young you can easily fit all of them on the ark. If you want to look into this further got to Answers in Genesis at or to Institute for Creation Research at
What do you think?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Man with a Message on a Mission

My wife and I joined a group of about thirty Pastors and sposes, staff members etc... to hear a challenge from Dr. Bobby Welch, past President of the SBC. It was a powerful and very down home message with a few surprises. At least they were surprises to me.

He took as a text Jeremiah 8:20. The message was very clear and inmpactful. The most meaningful aspect to me was ther down to earth personality of Dr. Welch. Both in his message and at lunch afterwards it was as if you were receiving encouragment from a loving Granfather.

A lot of bloggers have ben hard on Dr. Welch for the "million more" type goal and the bus tour. I think they should lay off and that we should all consider what we can do to be more effective in our ministry of evangelism

Sunday, April 15, 2007

God Is In Control

Many of my friends and family know that I have struggled with petite mal seizures for some time now. This past week I went for my first appointment at the Texas Medical Center in Houston to see a neurologist who specializes in epilepsy. I had some pretty lofty expectations going in to the appointment. My local neurologist and I had been working on this for many months, experimenting with new medications, combinations of medicine and ongoing monitoring. My idea was that at some point we would magically find the medication that worked virtually overnight. I figured since I was seeing a Doctor who dealt with this all the time I would now be on a “fast track” to healing.

In my first meeting with the new neurologist I was in fact very impressed. It was obvious that I was dealing with a man who faces this issue every day and focuses his entire medical career on treating this issue. Unfortunately, along with the expertise comes the reality. He told me two things I did not want to hear. The first was that it would realistically take about six months to evaluate the effectiveness of the first medication. Six months! I had, patient personality that I am, been willing to give it at least six weeks, but six months! I was not a happy camper.

The second thing he told me was that there is the possibility that they would never be able to completely alleviate the seizures. Control yes, eradicate, maybe, maybe not. Suffice it to say that neither of these two pieces of information brought me great comfort. Actually I was pretty dejected (and a little angry).

That evening we had our men’s ministry meeting. We had a guest speaker; I was thankful I was not on the slate this night. The God ordained topic of his Bible Study: “God is in control.”

Yes He is. God may heal me, He may not. If He chooses not to relieve me then this one thing is true, being content in my circumstances means finding joy in the truth that God may not heal but He always strengthens. That’s the kind of thing you can do when you are in control! I’m glad He is in control and I am not.