Saturday, February 28, 2009
I received a call before I left the house that there had been a tanker accident on the Interstate and part of the highway would be shut down for most of the afternoon. I was told that they had set up a detour but the traffic would probably be moving by the time I got there (I was still about two hours away). Wrong! I hit the highway parking lot several miles before the detour and managed to spend the next hour moving a mere 5-6 miles. Once that jam broke up, I managed about 30 of the remaining 50 miles at a relatively good pace considering that it was stil snowing and there were still numerous unskilled drivers sharing the highway with me.
I know that under certain conditions it doesn't take much to go into a slide and wind up in a ditch. However, with a little extra attention to detail, this is an avoidable accident. I'm sure that one day I'll find myself in the ditch and other drivers will be wondering how I got there. Mostly I'm just puzzled by the number of vehicles that end up in the ditch next to roads that are easily managed, in spite of the wintry conditions.
I can think of two things that add to the problem. First, Missouri does an awful job of clearing the roads. I've lived in Central Illinois, north of Chicago, Northwest Indiana and Northeast Iowa...all places that receive way more snow than Missouri. Missouri DOT is the worst...no doubt about it...the worst. Second, maybe we just don't get enough snow for anybody to become an experienced winter driver. Here's a hint: When there is snow or ice on the road, you can't drive like the roads are dry and expect to stay out of trouble! Slow down. Pay attention.
The weather caused the cancellation of tonight's session. Two of the evangelists didn't make it in yet and several of the participating churches have already cancelled morning services. The church where I am scheduled in the morning will be holding service and is not too far from the hotel. I'm glad. I really hate to miss an opportunity to preach. The church that I'm scheduled for in the evening has already cancelled the morning service and will have just one service tomorrow. They've decided on a 2:30pm service and no evening service. I guess I'll have lunch after the morning service, preach the afternoon service and then try to make it to one of the evening services where another of the evangelists will be preaching. Chris is going to try to make it up tomorrow afternoon and then spend the night. Hannah will stay with a friend. It should be a grand day!
I hope that you are warm and safe tonight. If you are, give thanks to God for all of your blessings.
In just a few hours, I'll be heading out for another associational evangelism conference. Unlike last Saturday, I'm really looking forward to this one. This is the second year for the Pulaski County Association Evangelism Conference. I'm very confident that there will be more churches that are participating this year than there were last year. The venue has changed from the association camp grounds to The First Baptist Church of St. Robert MO. The only bad part of heading out in a few hours is that I have so much to get done between now and then!
At this conference, I'll get to preach during the Monday morning session. Most of the time, I only get to share the Gospel with magic. It will be hard to shed the magician image since I started out primarily as a "Gospel Magician." Even though I feel that preaching is my primary vocational calling, I will forever be seen as a magician. It is not a bad thing...it just limits opportunities for preaching invitations and perpetuates having to spend time in magic that I would rather devote to other priorities.
I finally sent out the church pairings and schedule for our TriCounty Association Conference that begins next Saturday. This should be a job for somebody that doesn't have a full-time gig and a winter conference schedule of their own. It does give me a great appreciation for the other people that have put on conferences in the past. I am anticipating that there will be a great response and more churches will want to participate in coming years. I am baffled by churches that don't want to band together with other churches (and these are of the same denomination!) to share the Good News. Have we become so narcissistic that we would rather see the lost remain lost than see them find Jesus through the work of another believer? Would we really be jealous of an evangelist that God uses to reap a harvest in our own churches? Are we afraid that we will be out-preached by a guest in our own church? Shame on us!
It as never been about us. It has always been about God and His great love for those that are lost. We have been given the awesome responsibility of telling the world that God loves them and that Jesus died for them. I am praying for another great weekend. There have been nearly 50 new souls that claimed Jesus as Savior over the past two conferences. I am looking forward to seeing what God will do in the next two!
I hope that you will take the time this weekend to honor the Creator. Find a church. Go.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
I'll be finishing the schedule for the TriCounty conference Friday and sending out the info to the evangelists and host churches. A part of me is really disappointed in the participation from the local churches...on the other hand, this is our first year and I'm willing to give it a chance to grow.
I truly believe that the days of local churches holding revivals and crusades have not ended. I believe that God still calls and uses evangelists to serve local churches. I believe that we are called to enter into the labor of the churches to bring in the harvest. Too often churches struggle to make it on their own, neglecting the gift that God has given to them in the calling of vocational evangelists. It is not a contest to see who can claim the most notches on the communion table. We serve the same Lord, the same Savior. We are empowered and equipped by the same Spirit. There is no room for jealousy or envy. Pastors and evangelists have very different roles in the Kingdom. Personally, I think that the job of a local church pastor is way more stressful than that of an air traffic controller...and the stakes are much higher!
We are to be a team; members of the same body; each performing our unique function. I would encourage all pastors to prayerfully consider the use of an evangelist.
Obviously, I am going to have to spend more time writing on this blog. As one might expect, the hits drop way off when I post as infrequently as I have over the past few weeks. The last two conferences had me in pretty rural areas with limited internet access. The next two won't be so bad. Also, there was this young evangelist that kept hanging out with me and kept me up until the early morning hours. Cole will be busy at different venues for the next couple of weekends and can keep somebody else up all night.
Well there is work to do.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Thank you for your prayers.
Those that have been at this much longer than I have were confident that all would go well and were great encouragers. It makes the rest of the week much easier to look forward to. The Saturday night session was absolutely wonderful. It was a night of music and praise...and my, how God has blessed some of these evangelists with talent!
There is no doubt that some of these could be making a living (some of them have) as professional musicians but instead are fulfilling their vocational calling by singing and playing to the glory of God! I interrupted the great flow of music with a kids’ song and a sleight of hand effect to share a brief message about our role in spreading the story of God’s great love. I had several comments afterwards and they were all very positive. If there were any negative comments, I haven’t heard about them. A couple of pastors mentioned wanting to talk to me later in the week about working with them for different events.
The evening ended with a late dinner that was put on by the host church. While we were eating, an announcement was made that somebody had made the decision to trust Jesus as their Lord and Savior! It was sweeter than any of the many desserts that were available! (I managed to avoid the desserts.)
I am looking forward to sharing from God’s Word at
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Chris and I joined some of her friends at a Trivia Night last night. A former co-worker of hers is a regular at these kind of events. We join her family and friends once or twice a year to make up a team of eight. Last night we placed 2nd in a group of 14 teams. We have always placed in the top 3 teams and come away with some sort of prize. I'm not sure what charity the money raised went to last night, but it doesn't matter because we had a good time and the entry fees are reasonable.
I guess that knowing a bunch of useless information isn't a complete waste of time after all.
I've noticed a few new readers from different tracking devices. Feel free to "follow" me using Google Follower (see right column) and then you will get notification of my random postings. Or you can subscribe using the RSS feed or one of the available readers. If you are a blogger (and most of you are) I will generally stop by and see what you write if I have a way of linking to your blog.
No rant today...too much to do!
Time to put things together for the weekend.
Friday, February 20, 2009
About four years ago I received an invitation to the conference. Two weeks before the conference, I received an apologetic phone call that explained that the coordinator had booked too many evangelists and so they didn't have a place for me. Part of me understood that as a relatively new evangelist, I would be the one (or one of the ones) that would be uninvited. Another part of me suspected that there was more to it than overbooking evangelists.
It turns out that my suspicions were correct. Last year, one of the evangelists confided that he had spoken with the coordinator about inviting me and there was concern about the "magic" part of my ministry. Even with several well thought of evangelists speaking on my behalf, it was decided that since the Bible forbids magic (sorcery), I would not be invited.
That pastor is not serving as the conference coordinator this year. One of the evangelists that has been at the other conferences with me is the coordinator and has invited me. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to be at this conference this year but still have some concerns about how my ministry will be received. Many that use "magic" as a tool in ministry do not use the word "magic." They always use "illusion." Perhaps I should too. Personally, I think that it is silly to get all wrapped up in a word. All of my printed material (including business cards) say The Message in Magic. When I speak, I say magic. However, on the program it doesn't even say illusion, it says illustrations.
I always explain that what I do has nothing to do with sorcery or dabbling in the occult or talking to spirits. I even have some "illusions" to help demonstrate what I mean. I've always known that this can be a problem. When I was first un-invited to this conference, I was a little bit upset. Later I realized that I have enough work without the churches of this particular Baptist Association. Already I have a busier schedule for this year than I've ever had. I am looking to broaden my church base as that retirement date draws near (2 years, 10 months, 15 days) and this Association is close to home. But still I wonder about the weekend.
I am scheduled to provide illustrations during all three evening sessions and I am scheduled to be in two churches on Sunday. The Sunday assignments don't bother me at all since I will just plan on preaching the message for the service. If the pastors want some magic for the kids or are planning on an evening show, I'll be prepared to accomodate them. All-in-all, there is an uneasy feeling about this conference. It's as if I'm going to a place that I'm not welcome.
If it were just a simple matter of trusting God for the weekend, I'd be okay. The problem is that I wonder if I am going for me (to get more exposure) or for Him (because this is my calling). Obviously, these conferences do give the evangelists exposure. I have had calls from churches in all of the Associations that have invited me to their conferences. But somehow this one feels different. I'd appreciate your prayers this weekend. I doubt that I'll have internet access in the rural area that we are staying so it maybe Wednesday before I can post or read the blogs that I follow.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Last weekend was a great time at the Mineral Area Baptist Association Evangelism Conference. They are great hosts and we all had a wonderful time. On the Sunday that the evangelists were in the different churches many made life changing decisions. Twenty-two persons made first time professions of faith and trusted Jesus as their personal Savior. (Can I get a hallelujah?!) Fifty-seven made decisions of rededication. (Say "Praise the Lord!) And four answered the vocational call to ministry. (Shout out "Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!")
It really was something. The evangelists that participated are some of the best preachers that I have ever heard. It is such a treat to get to hang out with them. I really enjoyed getting to spend some time with one of our new members to the Fellowship of Missouri Baptists Evangelists (FMBE). Cole Calloway-Hodson is a youth evangelist. I was fortunate to be on the schedule with him at one of the churches on Sunday night. He is a fine preacher and loves to teach the Truth of the Bible. In fact, Know the Truth is the name of his website. He's still working on it so be sure to check back and see how things are changing.
It is such a busy time of year. This morning I was in Children's Church at my home church. I'll be at different conferences for the next three weeks which also means that I'll be in six different churches over the next three Sundays.
I'll try to do better about the blogging. There is much that I'd like to write about. I found another air traffic controller/preacher/blogger and want to share his site with you...different denomination, different calling, same Lord, same Savior. Go on over and check him out.
I'll warn you, I've been feeling more led to posting about spiritual things. You have always known that is a risk you take when you stop by. Just know that it will probably be more often in the near future. I don't want to scare you or push you away, I just want you to know that God really does care about you.
I was just thinking this morning--what if when you die you get a choice: Stand for yourself before the Judge and trust that you have been "good enough" to get into heaven, or let Jesus stand in your place? If you already know that letting Jesus stand in your place is like getting a free pass, why would you choose to stand by yourself? If you understand the rules of The Court...that to violate any part of the Law is the same as violating the whole Law...then you have to figure that standing on your own isn't going to get you into heaven. On the other hand, Jesus really does stand in our place. On the Cross, He bore our sin. He died our death. He took our punishment. But Death could not hold Him. He was raised from the dead to the life that He deeds to anyone that will choose to let Him stand in their place on the Day of Judgment.
Now here's the catch--you don't get that choice when you die; you have to decide when you are still living. When I die, will I want to stand before God by myself and hope that I was a "good enough" person to get into heaven? Or do I want Jesus to stand in my place? Personally, I've decided to ask Jesus to stand for me. You can too. Call me, write me or leave a comment. (number and e-address to the right->) I welcome your questions. As always, if you don't want your questions or comments posted, just let me know.
Will you face the Judgment on you own? Make today the Day of Decision. Choose Jesus...today!
Sunday, February 08, 2009
The church is currently without a pastor and has some issues that they will have to address in the interim period. Nevertheless, it was a fine congregation and they received me warmly. The text that I used is a story that is familiar to most people. It is from Luke, chapter 15. Here, Jesus is explaining what the kingdom of heaven is like. He uses three stories about things that are lost; a sheep, a coin, a son. I chose to focus on the third one...the son and the life that he chose to live.
Here is the story:
11Jesus continued: "There was a man who had two sons. 12The younger one said to his father, 'Father, give me my share of the estate.' So he divided his property between them.
13"Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
17"When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.' 20So he got up and went to his father.
"But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
22"But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. 24For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate.
25"Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27'Your brother has come,' he replied, 'and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.'
28"The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29But he answered his father, 'Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!'
31" 'My son,' the father said, 'you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' "
I pointed out four things that strike me in this story.
The first is that when we chose to live a lifestyle that we know is wrong and hurtful to those that love us and hold us accountable, we often choose to distance ourselves from those people. We don't have to move to a far country to build barriers between ourselves and the people that are close to us. You can be married and still be distant from your spouse.
If half of all marriages in the US end in divorce, I wonder how many other couples are living in empty relationships with their spouses. How many husbands or wives are leading secret lives that their mates know nothing about? How many have hopes, desires, dreams and fears that they haven't shared because they are living in a "distant country?"
Parents and children can allow relationships to deteriorate to the point that they might as well be living in a distant country. They have no communication, no respect, no empathy.
If we choose to do things that our friends don't do (or won't do), we just find a new set of friends. After all, don't they have to accept that that's just who we are? Rather than listen to a friend or loved one tell us that we are messing up...we'll just move to a distant country.
The second thing is that there is a price to pay for sinful living. The son lost everything...not just his money, he lost his friends, his inheritance and his pride. He ended up feeding pigs and thinking of how good things were back in his father's house. And not about how good things were for him, but how good things were for his father's servants.
I know that there have been rebel children that later find that the one set of people that they can still count on are the parents that they once despised. I know that unfaithful spouses have sometimes realized that they have squandered their good marriages and chased after the shiny lure of an exciting affair. Sometimes we have no real choice but to look back and regret some of the choices that we have made.
Often we are willing to try everything that crosses our path to find purpose in life. Many "Christians" continue to search for meaning and pleasure in life and have turned away from the real joy that they once had in a growing relationship with God. How much are you willing to waste on prodigal living? And under what conditions are you willing to return home?
Thirdly, there is someone waiting for you to return. The father ran to greet his son. He cast aside his son's request to return as a servant and reinstated his position as son. He threw a party to celebrate the return of his son.
Lastly, the person that you feel that you have hurt the most is often the same person that wants to fully restore the relationship with you. The son expected nothing from the father. He came completely humbled. He had nothing to offer--no pride, no dignity, no self worth. He had lost everything. He was counting on his father's mercy to allow him to live as a servant.
Is there a relationship in your life that needs to be restored? I will tell you that the place to begin is by getting your relation right with God. If you have a troubled marriage, get your relationship right with God. Having problems with your teen, get right with God. Parents a drag, get right with God.
Here is the thing: You cannot be in a right relationship with God and be a bad husband. The nature of God won't allow it. You cannot be in a right relationship with God and be a lousy parent. The nature of your relationship with God won't allow it. You cannot be in a right relationship with God and be a rebellious child. The nature of your relationship with God won't allow it.
If your relationship is right with God, all of your other relationship will show it. You cannot be a bad employer, employee, spouse, parent, child or friend if your relationship is right with God. The very nature of God won't allow it.
I would challenge my readers to examine your relationships. If there are defects that need to be worked on, if there are apologies that need to be made, if there are broken relationships and broken hearts that need mending--first, spend some time with God. If you will work on following His Word, His Way, His Son--all of those other relationships will begin to get better. You'll still need to make your apologies and reconciliations, but it is easier when you walk with God. He is longing for your return and if you will repent (turn back) from your own way, He will run to greet you!
- Luke 15:21 Some early manuscripts son. Make me like one of your hired men.
Friday, February 06, 2009
Thursday, February 05, 2009
Recently, I've seemed to be more aware of the Dark Side. I'm not sure why, it is just that it seems to be having its affect on people that I know or that I have recently encountered.
Here are a few examples:
A teenage boy that gets prescription drugs from a friend's mom and then tries to commit suicide.
An old friend that has a past history of sexually abusing children and shows no remorse.
A young woman that has scars from cutting and burning herself.
A husband and father that is throwing away a good career because of an alcohol addiction.
And more and more, I'm hearing people talk about others with real hate in their voices and in their hearts.
I'm hearing about young families that are having marital problems and it seems that depression is becoming the socially accepted disease of the day. It really does make my heart hurt to see all of the pain that is in the world around me. You don't have to look to the evening news to see the suffering of a world far away. You only have to look around your neighborhood or workplace to see that there is real suffering...real close to where you are. It might even be that you are feeling the pain of depression or battling with anger or hatred.
You can actually watch the news 24/7 if you choose to or listen to the hate spewing nonsense by radio broadcasters like Limbaugh and others. By the time you listen to just a few minutes of the gloom and doom broadcast about the condition of the economy, the tax and spend Democrats, the don't tax but spend more Republicans, the economic stimulus package that borrows money to encourage those that have proven to be irresponsible to continue to be irresponsible--you may want to find a teenager's mom to provide you with some lethal prescription drugs so that you can take the big dirt nap too.
There is such a great need for some simple kindness in our world. I'm not talking about starting a big, organized drive to collect food and money for the needy--I'm talking about doing something nice for somebody that may not have anybody else do something nice for them today. It doesn't even have to cost you anything more than a few minutes of your time. Call somebody today that needs a phone call. Just say, "Hi, I was thinking about you." For $2 you can buy a card and mail it to make somebody's day. Invite somebody over for a cup of coffee or tea.
I don't have to tell you guys how to be nice. But I do feel like I need to remind us (John included) to be nice.
The Bible says that the light dispels the darkness. We have to bring light to an increasingly dark world. The Bible says that Jesus is the Light of the world. If your light has grown dim, I want to encourage you to recharge by spending some time with God. Then go out and spread some love and some Light in your world. Do it today. Brag on yourself a bit and comment about something simple that you did to make the world a little bit brighter.
Don't give in to the Dark Side.
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
This was posted over a year ago on her blog but I thought of it after reading Bilbo's post today about the German language:
As part of the negotiations, the British Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a 5-year phase-inplan that would become known as "Euro-English".
In the first year, "s" will replace the soft "c". Sertainly, this will make the sivil servants jump with joy. The hard "c" will be dropped infavour of "k". This should klear up konfusion, and keyboards kan have one less letter.
There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year when the troublesome "ph" will be replaced with "f". This will make words like fotograf 20% shorter.
In the 3rd year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible. Governments will enkourage the removal of double letters which have always ben adeterent to akurate speling. Also, al wil agre that the horibl mes of the silent "e" in the languag is disgrasful and it should go away.
By the 4th yer people wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing "th" with "z" and "w" with "v".
During ze fifz yer, ze unesesary "o" kan be dropd from vords kontaining "ou" and after ziz fifz yer, ve vil hav a reil sensi bl riten styl.
Zer vil be no mor trubl or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi tu understand ech oza. Ze drem of a united urop vil finali kum tru.
Und efter ze fifz yer, ve vil al be speking German like zey vunted in zeforst plas.
If zis mad you smil, pleas pas on to oza pepl.
Sunday, February 01, 2009
1. I love chocolate. There are very few days in my life that I don't have a little chocolate. Dark chocolates are my favorites.
2. I once lived in a motel. I moved out of the motel room to move into a rented bedroom in a lady's home. I was pretty pathetic at the time.
3. I once grabbed the wrong paper bag for lunch when I was in grade school. When lunch time came around, I opened it to find a pair of dirty diapers (I have four younger siblings)! One of the nuns from school took me next door to the convent and fixed me a bologna sandwich.
4. When I was a kid I wanted to be a garbage man. I thought that it would be cool to ride on the back of the truck. They don't get to do that now so I'm glad that it didn't work out. I can't remember if I wanted to be a garbage man before or after I wanted to be a witchdoctor.
5. I like hats--not caps, hats.
6. I actually lit farts when I was in college (my own, not somebody else's). Hannah made me include this one!
7. I like hot spicy foods. I generally figure that if they make it at a restaurant, it can't be too hot for me.
8. I've been blessed with two of the greatest families on earth...my parents and siblings, and my wife and kids.
9. I love to vacation on the beach in Mexico.
10 I hate doing these things. Which is why I won't tag anybody else on this one.
There you have it, Fiona. You now know more about me than you would probably care to know!