Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Getting Busy

Wow! I am excited about all the events that are coming up! If you'll take a look at the Coming Events feature in the right column, you'll see that the spring calendar is filling up rapidly. A note about "Community Day" on May 6--I'm not performing or anything. It's just such a big day for our church that I'm not booking anything over it. If you are available on that evening, please drop by and see us. We'll feed you, have prizes for you and I'm sure that there will be some form of entertainment. There'll be games and inflatables for the kids and I can promise you that you will have a wonderful time.

I'm excited about being asked to work with some of the pastors, and laymen of the Tri-County Association of Southern Baptists. I'm not sure what all it will entail, but being asked to serve by our Director of Missions, Jim Wells, is an honor.

Also, you will want to check out the blog I've added to the Blogs I Frequent. David Stone's "A Stone's Throw" has some good devotionals and some rants and ramblings from a friend/pastor/church planter/all around good guy.

I hope that this post finds all of my readers doing well. As always, if you have a need that I can help you with(or find help for you) or a matter that I can pray about for you--call, write or comment.


Thursday, February 22, 2007

Sweet Surrender

Some of you that were growing up in the '70 might remember John Denver's song Sweet Surrender. I think it was the theme song for some movie about a bear. This post doesn't really have anything to do with John Denver, old movies or bears. But it does have to do with the freedom of surrender.

Surrender is a tough thing for anyone that is a little bit of a control freak. Truthfully, most of us want to have some control over anything that we are involved in. Kids want to have control over when they eat, what they eat, when they go to bed, when they get up, who they play with, whether or not they take a bath or brush their teeth. We know that parents are much better qualified to make these decisions, but we often end up in negotiations with our kids and making compromises anyway. I'm sure that my parent may have a different memory of my childhood days, but I don't recall getting a lot of negotiation time. Dinner was non-negotiable, you ate what was put on the table. Bedtime was non-negotiable, we were in bed while the rest of the neighborhood was still outside playing. I hated that! What we watched on the one TV with three available channels was non-negotiable whenever Dad was home. But we were healthy, well rested kids that did well in school, had good manners, and learned that many decisions that involved us were made without consulting us.

Today, I'd have to admit that there is a certain freedom in allowing the most qualified people to make the decisions and ultimately accept the responsibility and consequences for their decisions. I know that my parents loved us and were making their decisions based on what they felt to be in our best interests. At some level, I'm sure that I knew that even then. But that didn't stop me from stalling at bedtime or making my peas disappear from my plate and reappear on my brother's! However, I never thought about what would be for dinner, how it was paid for, how long it took to prepare it or any of that stuff. I just knew that when Dad pulled in the driveway, dinner was about 15 minutes away. Leaving every decision about dinner to somebody else allowed me to tend to the business of being a kid.

Likewise, there are still things today where we would be better off if we would surrender our will to those that are ultimately responsible. I've taken a page from a friend's outlook by dividing things into the things that are within my circle of concern and things that are within my circle of influence. There are somethings that I am concerned about but have no influence over. Worrying about things that you have no control (influence) over is one of those negative, life zapping, energy draining things. When you do have some control, when things fall within your circle of influence, then you can take action.

I've decided that I am going to use a third circle. This will be things that are within my circle of responsibility. Too often, we try to work in areas that are outside of our circle of responsibility. Some of the time, we fail to act on things that are within our circle of responsibility. In business, in the military, in the family and in the church, it is still true that you can delegate authority, but you cannot delegate responsibility. We can offer advice, we can rally support (or opposition), we can even convince the responsible party or parties that our way is better than their way. But we still cannot take away their accountability.

In the family, I believe that the man is responsible for the spiritual health of his family. He may be influenced by other members of the family. He may ask advice. He may let somebody else assume the role of spiritual leader. But in the end, he alone will answer for the spiritual condition of his family.

In the church, that leader is the Pastor. He takes on the role of a shepherd. It is his responsibility to guard the flock. He is responsible for feeding the flock, for growing the flock and for protecting the flock. He may seek help in fulfilling his responsibility. Help may come in the form of under shepherds (hired hands). He may seek counsel from other shepherds. He may just have a big, well trained dog. But in the end, he alone will answer for the spiritual condition of the flock.

When it comes to church life, I think that I like the idea of knowing what time dinner is. I know that I may not always like what's being served, but I believe that my pastor is doing what he believes God wants for me and the other members of the family. When I was growing up, we would have chores. I didn't get much of a say so in what my chores were. In the church family, I still have chores. We have the tendency to want to pick our chores in the church. The truth is that they have been assigned to us and we have been equipped to see that they get done. Unfortunately, we are sometimes like a disobedient child that fails to do the things that he is responsible for doing. (I'm not admitting that I have any experience in that!)

I think that I have enough to do without trying to accomplish the work of others. Oh, I'll be glad to help anyone that needs or wants my help. But I'm comfortable to let you do your job. Truthfully, it is taking me a great deal of effort to do what God has placed before me. Understand that I'm not complaining, it is a privilege to be called into His service. It's just that some kids have to work really hard at getting things right. I guess I'm one of them.

I want to close by saying that I love both of my families--the one that I grew up in and the church family that I'm still growing up in!


"Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those that work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work." The Apostle Paul in his first letter to the Thessalonians

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Columbia College Bound!

Just a quick post to tell you that Aaron has been awarded a full scholarship to Columbia College in Columbia, MO. We are very proud of our son and thrilled that somebody else is going to pay for his college education. The scholarship was one of ten that about 90 students were competing for. 5 were full ride scholarships and 5 included all but room and board. The competion was half interview and half essay. Aaron was awarded one of the full ride scholarships.

Thanks to all of you that joined us in praying for him and a big thanks to our God that blesses us so well.


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Things to Do (plus a gift)

Lately I've been working on several different things that I've been wanting to write about and yet I just haven't made the time for it. I seems that there just isn't enough time in the day to do all of the things that I'd like to do.

A couple of the things that I need to do:

I need to develop a suitable program for a public school venue. It has been a couple of years since I've done that type of program. In April, a church that I'll be preaching a revival at will book me into a couple of local schools for anti-drug/alcohol programs with an invitation to hear more about life choices I've made at the church in the evening. It's a great deal for the schools because the church underwrites the program. The schools get a very valuable product for free, and the church gets to make an invitation to come to revival and to bring your parents. At this point, it is a must do project.

I also have a possible walk-around gig at a mall. This event is in conjunction with a Redemption Tournament in Kansas City. I'm not sure about all of the details yet, but I'm working on adding new stuff to the repertoire just the same.

In addition to the magic stuff, I always need to work on new messages/bible study material. Last Sunday evening, Pastor Terry asked if I could teach his Wed. night bible study. Teaching bible study or filling the pulpit is always too good of an opportunity to pass up. There are a couple of downsides, though. One is that I don't have a file full of material to draw on for a short notice opportunity. The other is that with personalities in the church like Ed Burris, Joseph Ransom, and Jim Wells--all with Thd.'s/Phd.'s (Dr. Ransom with three), I feel a little inadequate at times. It is undoubtably quite humbling and I certainly have to rely on encouragement and empowerment from the Holy Spirit.

I have also set aside a couple of books that I am in the middle of to re-read a book by Lee Strobel. The book is A Case for Faith. Several recent encounters have prompted me to re-read this book. I'll not go into those incidents but will say that this is a great read for any believer that has ever had a struggle with believing in God or questions about a loving God sending people to hell, allowing good people to suffer, condoning the violence in the Old Testament or how can God and science co-exist? It is also a great book for non-believers that are willing to look at some valid debate about our faith. Lee Strobel's first book, A Case For Christ, was written as Strobel (then an atheist) began to examine the claims of Christianity. Strobel holds a Masters of Studies in Law degree from Yale Law School, a Journalism degree from the University of Missouri and is former Legal Editor of the Chicago Tribune. Both books use the skills of an investigative journalist to uncover the evidence, the knowledge of a lawyer to examine and present the evidence, and the patience of a friend to allow the reader to draw his/her own conclusions. I feel so strongly about the materials presented in these books that I would gladly purchase and send one or both to anyone that would agree to read them with an open mind. It's my gift to you. Just click on comment and ask for them along with your mailing address. Your request will remain anonymous.

For all of us that claim to be followers of Jesus, there is much work to be done. My sincerest apologies to my Lord for my own inactivity.


Friday, February 09, 2007

Laclede Association Annual Evangelism Conference

The Laclede Association Annual Evangelism Conference was a wonderful time of preaching and singing and lifting of our hearts and voices to God. I really get pumped up from being around the evangelists and the pastors that truly want to hear from God and want for their people to hear from God.

Hillcrest Baptist Church in Lebanon was a most gracious host church and the Association as a whole was warm, friendly and showered us with the love of God.

The line-up was much the same as at the Mineral Area Conference with a couple of changes. My number one fan, Bud Lee and wife Barbara were absent. Greg and Jamie Hitt were on the program and did a wonderful job of providing music for worship. Don Walton (one of my favorite preaching evangelists) was there and James Ogan was on the program as a preacher and to provide music. Ron Mills, Harold Mathena, Ron and Haven Howard, and yours truly rounded out the program. I can’t tell you how much it energizes me just to hang out with these guys. As much as it reminds me of how much I’m NOT doing for the work of the Kingdom, it inspires me to get busy—not just as an evangelist, but in the day to day walk of a believer.

I was privileged to perform at Morgan Baptist Church on Sunday morning and at Hillcrest on Sunday night. Thank you to both churches for their warm welcome and a special thanks to the youth at Hillcrest that abandoned the Superbowl game for awhile and came into the sanctuary for the evening program.

It is my hope and prayer that all of the participating pastors are as energized as I am. I hope that they will call on my friends to help them equip the saints in their churches for the work of the Kingdom. I am including contact information and links to web sites for the evangelists from both conferences. Please include us in your prayers and in your plans to bring the Gospel to your communities.


Clyde Chiles--Turning Point Evangelistic Association

Diana Edwards--Mountain Top Music & Ministries

Greg and Jamie Hitt--Greg & Jamie Hitt Concert Music Ministries

Ron and Haven Howard--Ron and Haven

Bud & Barbara Lee--Bud & Barbara Lee Ministries, Inc.

Jim H. McNiel--Evangelistic Association

Ron Mills--Ron Mills Ministries, Inc.

James H. Ogan--Ogan Ministries

Don Walton

Harold Mathena
Edmond OK

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Mineral Area Association Conference

WOW! The Mineral Area Association did a fantastic job of hosting their first Evangelism Conference. What a thrill it was to be numbered with some of the finest men and women that are sharing the gospel throughout Missouri. It was certainly an event to excite pastors and churches into getting busy for the work of the King. Kudos to Lawrence Kennon (Pastor at First Baptist Church, Bismark) and Larry Greenfield (Director of Missions) for the assembly of evangelists and the participation of the associational churches.

Bringing the message through the preaching of the Word were Clyde Chiles, Jim McNiel, Harold Mathena, Ron Mills and James Ogan. Musical Evangelists were Diane Edwards, Bud and Barbara Lee, Ron and Haven Howard and James Ogan. They also had some guy doing magic and sharing God's message as best he could. My one disappointment in the conference was not getting to hear Ron Howard preach as our Tuesday morning session went long.

The challenge for me was coming up with five 10 minute spots to use an effect to illustrate a scriptural principle. Normally, a 30-45 minute program has an opening effect (an attention getter), some fun magic (just for entertaining and for building crediblity), and then something to share the Gospel, and finally a closing effect to bring it all together and present the plan of Salvation. Using just a couple of effects at a time and always with a message was somewhat of a stretch. In truth, I just packed a bunch of stuff in the car and then worked out each session as the Spirit moved me. It seemed well received and I hope that God was glorified in all the work from all of the Evangelists.

On Sunday morning, I was at New Life Fellowship in Farmington. I had a great time talking to the youth about making good choices during the Sunday School hour and preached about taking God out of the box during the morning worship time. New Life is a friendly, diverse fellowship in downtown Farmington. Pastor John, the kids in the youth group and everyone there made me feel very welcome.

This weekend begins the Laclede Association Conference at Hillcrest Baptist Church in Lebanon. I'll be at Morgan Baptist on Sunday morning and at Hillcrest on Sunday night.


It's harvest time.
It's harvest time.
The fields are white,
the grain is ripe,
It's harvest time.

The Savior's calling.
The grain is falling.
Oh, bring them in
from the fields of sin.
It's harvest time.