Friday, April 30, 2010

Weekend Notes

It is Friday night and there is a rain delay in the Reds/Cardinals baseball game. It's been a pretty good week. I had a wonderful Sunday that started with a visit to the youth group's Sunday School class at Hopedale. It was really just a kind of question and answer time that was sort of centered around the thought of what heaven is like. They had some great questions and were really interested in what the Bible has to say and are trying to figure out just why we believe what we believe.

I left Sunday School at Hopedale to drive the few miles to Shady Grove Baptist Church and fill in for a sick pastor/friend. The fellowship of believers at Shady Grove is a friendly group of believers and I can tell that they really love their new pastor. It was fun to preach there again.

Wednesday night I was at Victory Baptist for the closing program of their AWANA program. I'm looking forward to hearing what decisions were made that night. I always have a great time when I get to go to these kind of programs.

This weekend (the first weekend of May) is our annual Community Day event at Hopedale Baptist. This is one of the biggest community events on our church calendar. We will have many inflatables games for kids, some rides, some food, some music, and some guy doing a few magic effects and telling people that God loves them and Jesus died for them. There are some great prizes that are given away to our neighbors and a hope that they realize that we are here to help them face the struggles of day to day living and to give them some answers about spiritual matters and eternal things. It looks like the rain is forecast to be through the Ozarks by Sunday and we should have a very nice day.

May will be a very full month...Camp meetings, Christian Writer's meeting to elect officers for next year, a meeting in Jefferson City to talk about evangelism in Missouri Baptist life, Hannah's Graduation and Open House, Aaron will be travelling to Scotland for an international volleyball tournament representing Team USA with Athletes International, and Chris will travel for her annual sisters weekend with the girls.

At work, a supervisor job was filled from the controller workforce and that leaves a hole in the rotation. Not a big deal to management but it will make it difficult for the rest of us to get time off and we'll begin some shifts and staffing levels that are below what management is willing to go to in order for controllers to take leave. Nothing new there...just more of the same old stuff. We do have a few guys that are well into their training--one should be fully certified by mid-summer. However, we also have another supervisor that will likely retire this summer and two controllers that will retire before the end of the year. But don't worry, we're no where near the mandatory six day weeks that many facilities are at and the FAA continues to tell the flying public that there is no shortage of air traffic controllers. On the plus side of work life, I continue to pick up a second midnight shift each week and the new staffing level may allow me to work three each week. This keeps me away from most of the garbage and helps to keep my attitude from getting too soured by the everyday junk.

If you are in the Ozark area on Sunday afternoon, stop by and visit us at Hopedale. You'll have a great time.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunday Morning Call

It wasn't too long ago that I received a message from my friend Joseph Ransom asking for a letter of recommendation to include with his resume that was being submitted to a church in view of a Pastoral call. What a privilege it was to tell somebody of the high regard that I hold for this man's integrity, character and theological background. Today, Joseph is pastor at the small country church in Shady Grove MO.

Recently, he has been plagued with some health issues that have caused a great deal of pain and discomfort. Knowing that conditions can be day-to-day, I offered to be available for a last minute call to fill in for him if needed. This morning, about 6am, I received that call.

I'll be at Hopedale for Sunday School. I have already agreed to visit with our youth class for a little Q&A time--just a chance for them to ask about some of the things in the Bible that they don't understand or are not sure of what it means for us. Then I'll head on down the road to Shady Grove which is only a short distance away.

Please keep my friend Pastor Joseph and his wife Kaye in your prayers...and as long as you have the ear of God, offer a short prayer for me, too. An old friend of mine used to say, "You should pray for me. I need the prayers...and you need the practice!"

Have a great Sunday.
By the way, God loves you. Jesus died for you.


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Wasted Days and Wasted Nights

Several days ago, I was having a conversation with somebody that posed the question, "How would our world be different if only news and educational shows were aired on television?"

What?! No Idol? No Lost? No Dancing? No BASEBALL? (of course, Cardinal baseball could be considered educational for Cub or Royals fans!)

Think about it. If we didn't watch stories about other people living make-believe lives and were actually living life ourselves, how would we be different? Would we converse (actually talk) with family members more. Would we be in better health because we spend more time doing things rather than parked on our butts eating snacks and watching others do things? Would we become more intellectual and better informed about the cultures that we share the planet with if we only watched educational shows or news programs instead of the garbage that we currently fill our heads with?

Would we spend less money on the worthless junk that is constantly paraded across our screens in the way of advertisements? Would we eat less junk food? Buy fewer diet programs? Would we do without the latest can't live without it item (that we've been doing well without) that will end up in next year's garage sale?

What would we do with all of the time that we spend vegetating in front of our television sets letting somebody else do and think and live for us?

To be fair--the set has an on/off switch and a channel selector. But we are a weak people. We are easily swayed by the promotional genius of the broadcast world and slowly enticed to relax in the comfort of the sofa and slip into the false reality that we dream of living in.

Overall, we don't watch too much TV in our home. It is a rare occasion that more than one set is on at a time and we don't have the same taste in programming. Most of the time (like now) the TV is off. Even so, when it is on, it is usually a waste of precious time. So think about this--the next time you sit down to watch your favorite reality show, sit-com, or serial; what could you (or should you) be doing that would be more beneficial to you or somebody you care about? Would the time be better spent playing catch with your kids, calling a friend or family member, finishing a project that you've been putting off, reading a Good Book (hint, hint, wink), or just talking to each other in a conversation that lasts longer than the time allocated for commercials?

Well it appears that the rain has stopped (for the moment) on this Saturday morning and I have horses to tend to and a life to live. I hope that tomorrow (Sunday) will find you worshiping God with fellow believers somewhere. If you don't have a church home and live in the Ozark area, I invite you to join us at Hopedale.

I hope that every day finds you worshiping God.


Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. Romans 12:1

Friday, April 09, 2010

Re-evaluating the Call

It's weird how things come together--somebody recommends a book, somebody else makes a comment, another person starts to look at their calling and ministry--and before you know it, I'm looking at my own ministry calling.

Here are some of the odds and ends that are a part of my mental/spiritual struggle:

I am definitely called into some type of vocational ministry that includes preaching, teaching, and encouragement.

I have always felt (and still do) this to be the calling of an evangelist.

I have never felt like God has called or equipped me for pastoral ministry.

Overall, I'm pretty frustrated by the way we (Christians in general, Baptist in particular) do church.

Even though I have never felt called to pastoral ministry, I feel that we should be as busy planting churches as growing them and sense a call to church planting.

Another frustration--in Southern Baptist life, church planters become church pastors.

So here's my question--Is God calling me to be a non-traditional pastor of a new work that tries to keep people out of the pitfalls of organized religion--you know, the kind of church that doesn't "do church"; that isn't "religious; that doesn't fall into the model of committees on committees and program after program; but rather studies, teaches, and lives out the teachings of Jesus our Lord and Savior?

Simple church must not be that simple because I don't know of any churches that are doing that. As a matter of fact, there is a book called Simple Church. I have it...and I've seen it in every pastor's study or church library that I've been in over the last year. Those that have made comments about it all say that it is a good book, right on the mark...but nobody is doing things that simply. The only thing that I can come up with is that church isn't that simple.

It may be that our focus is all wrong. Maybe while we're trying to figure out how to do church, we're forgetting the part about a God that loves us and a God that commands us to love one another. Maybe we've decided that making disciples is for the vocationally called and the rest of us can plan the next program for our kids/youth/men's group/ladies' group/etc. The Missouri Southern Baptist Convention even has a Committee on Committees! No kidding! I was on it this past year.

I know that there is a business side of church that must be tended to, but it seems to get the most attention--as if that's why we're here. Unfortunately, I don't know the answers to solving this problem. I don't know if it's even a problem for anybody else. Maybe it's just me that is frustrated by living a mediocre (at best) Christian life. Or maybe it's just me that is frustrated that we (as a church) seem content to be turning out mediocre Christians and part time disciples.

I think that I need to be doing more. I think that we all need to be doing more. And I'm not talking about supporting a political party or candidate. I'm not talking about a social agenda. I'm not talking about anything other than learning and living according to the teachings of Jesus.

So...what next? Good question. I guess it's time to figure this calling thing out...again.

Maybe you're in a similar place and need to examine (or re-examine) your calling and place in the Kingdom. Let me know about it.


Saturday, April 03, 2010

A Beautiful Saturday

Wow! What a beautiful day in the Ozarks--sunny, warm, simply beautiful.

I was up at 6 this morning to enjoy a cup of coffee before getting everything together for a magic show at Eastside Baptist Church in Mountain Home, Arkansas. The last time that I was there for their Easter egg hunt the temperature was at the freezing mark. Today was shorts, t-shirts and flip flop weather! Aside from the beautiful weather, Eastside went all out today. They sent out thousands of mailers and had hundreds of kids show up with their moms and dads!

After some guy started the day with a magic show and a brief explanation of why Christians celebrate Easter, hundreds of kids went in search of thousands of eggs that had been scattered outside. Then there were inflatable games to play on, bunnies and chicks to be petted, pictures with bunny rabbits, and hot dogs, popcorn, cotton candy and lemonade to be enjoyed!

And I had a beautiful day to make the 2hr 10 min drive home. Driving home after a good event is always enjoyable. Daytime or nighttime, sunny or raining--it really doesn't matter after a fun event where I get to share the Gospel. But today was great--windows down, a phone conversation with my mom and then pre-season baseball on the radio.

God is great. Life is good!

Here's a cool magician. If you speak Japanese, you can interpret for the rest of us. Fortunately, you don't have to speak the language to enjoy the effect.


Friday, April 02, 2010

Good Friday

I think that it's odd that we would refer to the day of the Crucifixion as Good Friday. I mean, I know that the Crucifixion of Jesus was a necessary part of the plan of salvation (Jesus had to die in our place), but still, it seems like it is a very bad day.

It's interesting that Jesus of Nazareth was crucified and the one that was released by Pilate was also called Jesus--Jesus Barabbas. Barabbas literally translates as the son of the father, bar abbas. So Jesus, the Son of God is crucified in the place of Jesus, the son of the father. Jesus Barabbas was a murderer and an insurrectionist. Jesus, the Son of God was innocent. The Bible says that He, who knew no sin, became sin for us. He died in our place. Like Jesus Barabbas, we are the ones that are guilty before The Law. We are the ones that have fallen short of the perfection of God. We are the ones that are worthy of death. But the God that created us is a God that loves us and is unwilling for us to be eternally separated from Him because of our sin. The Bible says that God demonstrates His love toward us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

I don't think that I can look at the events of this day from long ago and call it a good day. Even though it was a day that I needed to take place, it was a day that showcased the arrogance and self-centered will of man. It is a day that reminds me of the weakness and the evil that is in our hearts. It is a day that reminds me that we are so unworthy of the love that God has for us. It is a day that reminds me of the death that I deserve and of the mercy and grace that God bestows on a sinner such as me.

Good Friday. It is a day for me to reflect on just how great God's love is.

Jesus died so that we might have eternal life. In His death is the pardon for our sin. It is the payment for the wrong that we have done. You can know that you have an eternal home in heaven by believing that Jesus died for your sins--that He took your place; your punishment; your penalty. It is God's gift to you.


Easter Cookies (from last year)