Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Half Past

It is hard to believe that today marks the end of the first six months of 2009.

God has been GOOD!

I really have to say that I feel incredibly blessed to be living the life that He has granted me. I have a top notch family and we get along great (when we're not annoying each other!). I love my church family, as well. It is so exciting to look to the wonders that God has in store for us as a church. We continue to see people reaching out to others and new believers coming into the family.

I continue to get calls for preaching revivals and have a pretty full fall calendar (I need to update that part of this page). The camps and revivals that I've been a part of this spring have been wonderful experiences. The calls and events are affirmation that full-time ministry is definitely in the future.

In spite of the work place politics and dysfunctional management of the FAA, I have a great job. It is something that I have enjoyed doing and it has provided well for my family. I'm glad to be able to do it for another 2 years, 6 months and 7 days.

While the dismal economy has had its effect on our family, we have been dealing with it and are very prosperous compared to most of the world. The areas that we've cut back in (and still need to trim some more) would be considered luxuries in many households. I know that my kids think that we live in the Dark Ages with only basic cable service and cell phones that are just cell phones and not the "smart phone" variety with full internet capabilities. We have a couple of aging laptops that serve as our computers and are obsolete by computer standards of 5 years ago! No satellite radio, no HD television, no big screen, flat screen or even digital TV. We barely have a working DVD player!

We have decent shelter, more than enough food to eat (you don't get to be this size with an empty 'fridge), four--count 'em--four cars, and enough money to blow on dinner out (too often), an occasional trip to the frozen custard stand, a baseball game or two and the ever popular overpriced Starbuck's coffee. We are blessed with good health and good health care coverage.

As much as I look forward to the day when I get to see my Jesus in heaven, I am looking forward to seeing what the second half of 2009 holds for me and my family. July will host a family reunion for the Hill family (in Indianapolis), a night at a kid's camp (Waynesville MO), another week long kid's camp (Potosi, MO) and a trip to St. Louis for a Cardinal baseball game with my son (his Christmas present to me)! Of course no Cardinal baseball game is complete without a ball park dog and a post game trip to Ted Drewe's...and that's just in July!

I hope that your world--your life--is as full of hope as mine is. I hope that you are looking forward to meeting with Jesus face to face one day, but committed to enjoying this life and walking with Him until that day! If you want some really good news (for a change), check this out: God loves you!

How do I know that? The Bible says that God demonstrates His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Jesus died for us!

Now that's GOOD NEWS!

John <><

Friday, June 26, 2009

Catching Up

Well I have spent a good share of the morning catching up on my blog reading. I thought that since it's too hot to be outside mowing the lawn or working on putting up lattice around the patio, I'd sit down with an iced latte and write a short post.

I'm currently reading through the Gospel According to Luke in the Bible. I was thinking of posting my thoughts as I read through it like I did last summer with the Gospel According to John. Luke is one of the first apologists. By his own testimony, he carefully investigated what he heard and observed and wished to share the results of his investigation.

1Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, 2just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. 3Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.
Luke 1:1-4

I'll get back to you on that...I haven't really decided yet.

I was pleased to find the Cardinals in first place as we returned to the States. Of course, I managed to keep up with them on ESPN Deportes and even watched parts of a couple of games. I was thinking that a couple of my misguided friends were glad that I was out of the country as the Cardinals taught the cross-state Royals a thing or two about baseball in the Midwest!

One of the day trips that we took was an off road tour into the forest of the Sierra Madre. We had an excellent guide that was full of knowledge of the history of the area of Mexico, the plants of the sub-tropical, transitional forest, and the way of life for the people of the area.

I am always amazed at how people live in other countries and cultures. At times, I think that we have allowed the great innovations of our society to rob us of some of the simple pleasures of life. Sadly, some of the cultures aspire to become what we (in the USA) are--not realizing the price that they will pay. Mexico has a long way to go as a developing nation, yet they are already making great strides in many areas.

One thing that I noticed--although the area is primarily an area for Mexican and American (USA) tourists, none of the signs were bilingual. However, here in the Midwest, many places have bilingual (English/Spanish) signs. I just find that to be odd.

I would love to have more time to lounge on the beach but it is also good to be home. Perhaps someday home will be on the beach (or at least close to it).

John <><

Eligible to retire in 2 yrs, 6 mos, 10 days.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Quick Post

Just a quick post from sunny Pueto Vallarta...

It's a beautiful day (again) and we are getting ready for lunch and then going to take a bus into Puerto Vallarta. We are staying north of the city in Bucerias.

All is well.

Happy Father's Day to all of the dads. I'll have to suffer by spending mine on the beach!

John <><

Monday, June 15, 2009

Vacation Time

I'm going to take a few days off. I figure to read the blogs I follow when I have the chance but doubt that I will post anything for the next week or so. (In other words, you'll not notice any difference.)

I'm looking forward to the time with the family--some at home, some on the road.

Mike, I don't know if you and Claudia are up for a late night visit to Ted Drewe's, but we will probably be there between 10 and 11 on Tuesday night.

I've had a busy June with a wedding (end of May), back to back kid's camps and a VBS kick-off this past Sunday. It will be a great time to just relax and enjoy each others company. I won't bring my laptop when we're not at home but will make time to check e-mail, blogs and Facebook when the opportunity presents itself.

See you soon,
John <><

Friday, June 12, 2009

A Better Sermon

One of the things that I noticed the week of camp was the incredible interaction between the college aged students and the kids that were at camp. Even the high school kids had the ability to to capture the hearts and attention of the little ones. Of course, I remember that "the big kids" were always cool if they had time for you when I was an elementary student.

There were the college kids that did the Sports Crusaders clinics, plus college and high school aged counselors. The kids just loved them and they did a great job with the kids. So many of the kids never get any attention from their parents that they are really starved for some positive encouragement.

At some point, it occurred to me that these young men and women are telling a great story just by giving their time to the children's camps. The testimony that it's cool to love Jesus means so much more coming from them than it does coming from me.

They are cool.

I'm just some guy that's older than their parents preaching to them.

As much as I love to tell the stories from the Bible and really strive to bring them to life, I'm still the preacher to them. The kids are going to have to be the ones that share the Gospel with their peers. For the kids at church, I can talk to them and they have a respect for me that their friends don't have. It will be their job to share the truth of the Bible.

In truth, my generation has done a lousy job of telling people about Jesus. The year 2007 had the lowest number of baptisms for Missouri Southern Baptists since 1943. If the parents of these kids are unchurched, we shouldn't be surprised that an entire generation is learning that God isn't that important. As we reach people with the Gospel, we are going to have to allow them some room to grow. Too often, we expect them to be as mature a Christian as we believe ourselves to be with out giving them time to learn about Jesus and what he taught about living for the glory of God.

I hope and pray the these future generations will be better stewards of the Gospel than we have been. And I hope they will forgive us for leaving the Church in the mess that we have left it in. We still have some time to clean things up and to get ready for the coming of the Bridegroom. The big questions are--What are you going to do about it? and When are you going to get started?

John <><

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

REFOCUS: Refresh, Renew, Rejoice...(and Relax)

Wow!  I am catching my breath and enjoying a moment of relaxation this morning.  I had a long (7.5 hours) nights rest in my own bed for the first time in over a week and am waiting on the coffee pot so that I can enjoy a cup while I catch up on reading my favorite blogs.  I can honestly say that I didn't miss television at all last week.  I did miss the internet.  Reading blogs and occasionally writing for my blog are ways that I relax and things that I really enjoy.  I can check my e-mail and update my Facebook status from my phone, but most of the blogs are too much for my data service to handle.

In the two camps from last week (Tri-County Baptist Association and Hopedale Baptist Church) there were seventeen kids that received Jesus as their Savior and Lord (12 and 5 respectively).

Once again, the Hopedale camp was AWESOME!  Lindell did a great job as camp director.  I know that he learned a great appreciation for Mike and all of the work that he has done in years past.  Both of these guys love to share Jesus with kids.  I've said it before and I'll say it again...of all of the kid's camps that I've been to, nobody does kid's camp better than Hopedale!  
This year we had a lot of first time adults that were there to help and experience what we have been talking about.  They helped with the lessons, the skits, the worship, the A/V stuff, the setting up of challenges and the supervising of the kids.  They participated in the camp and enjoyed it as much as the kids.  We had the best camp cooks and the staff even mentioned how great our cooks were.

I also need to mention the staff at Baptist Hill Camp...they were great.  They served us cheerfully and enjoyed their work.  They are a great asset to the camp and to the Kingdom.  

Well it looks like reading blogs is going to have to wait for another time.  I've got a 10 o'clock Association  Administrative Committee meeting to attend.  More later...

John <><

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Kid's Camp II

I'm taking a few moments away from the kids.  They are engaged in a kickball tournament prior to our evening worship time.  The Tri-County Association kid's camp ended Friday morning and the Hopedale kids arrived around 2:30 in the afternoon.

Fridays are easy days in Hopedale kid's camp life...kind of a day to get settled in.  The kids arrive in swim gear and start their weekend with a couple of hours at the pool and waterslide while appointed adults either watch the kids or move all of the luggage to the appropriate room.  Then the kids change for supper, get their rooms organized and eat one of the awesome meals that are being prepared by our Pastor and Ms. Marie from our church.  

After dinner it's lesson time, team building and then the daily worship session.  Out theme this year is REFOCUS: Refresh, Renew, Rejoice.  At last night's session, several kids received Jesus as Lord and Savior.  We still need to counsel with them to make sure that they understand the message and what we are telling them about Jesus and His Love.  This isn't just a numbers game for us...we really want them to trust Jesus in their hearts and lives.  The Tri-County camp saw 12 kids make professions of faith in Jesus and many that rededicated themselves to living for Him.

This morning, one of our adult Sunday school classes made the hour long drive to camp to work in our little carnival.  We had several inflatable games as well as face painting, a putting green, hula hoop toss, lucky duck and of course...the dunk tank!  One of the problems of being the lovable Pastor John is that he will at some point, wind up in the dunk tank.  The tank happens to be filled with water drawn from the camp's deep well and is a cool 58 degrees  F (14.4 C).

Time to get ready for evening worship...more later (maybe some pics, too).

John <><

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Kid's Camp I

It’s just past 10 pm on the first day of camp.  10 is lights out for the campers so all is pretty quiet.  I’m typing this as a Word document and will copy it to my blog when I have the opportunity to do so.  At this point, I’m not too sure just when that will be.


Camp went well today.  The attendance is down from the past two years.  There are a couple of contributing factors.  One was the icy weather that we had in January.  A couple of schools are still in session this week because of missed days due to weather.  Another possible factor is a structural change within the Association.  Some staff reassignments and a restructuring of the administration may have caused some bad feelings that may have caused some churches not to participate this year. 


Also, the reorganization put new people in charge of camp and we have tried to do some things a little bit differently.  I think that this is going to be a great week.  Tonight, Peter Robillard was here.  Peter is a mixed marshal arts fighter and has travelled all over the world with The Power Team.  He used a couple of feats of strength to get the kids attention and to illustrate what God has done for us.  He made a wonderful presentation of the Gospel and many of the kids made decisions for Jesus.  I won’t know just how many new followers of Jesus we have until we get word back from the counselors.  The counselors talk with all of the kids to be sure that they understand what was being asked of them and to be sure that they have trusted Jesus as Savior by giving their heart to God.


This year’s camp is using the Sports Crusaders for our morning activities.  I’m looking forward to seeing just how that goes.  Kids have to be at the flag pole for the raising of the flag and morning prayer at 7:30 am.  They have some pretty full days ahead of them.

So do the adults.  More later.

Tuesday, lunchbreak

I found out that there is a wireless connection available near the Camp Director's Office so I am posting from there.  The morning sesions were excellent!  These young college kids are working so well with the campers.  I'm getting ready for the evening worship time and then off to work.  With the Sports Crusaders taking care of the entire morning, I'll have no problem getting a few hours sleep in the morning tomorrow.

God is good.  All the time.

John <><