Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Who was left with Job?

I was at children's camp this morning, and the preacher was focusing on the 'shield of faith' from Ephesians 6. He used Job as an example of a man with a shield of faith, and I was thinking about some things related to Job while he preached. (I admit, it's an occupational hazard. We preachers listen to other preachers and think about what we can preach from what they are preaching.)

What got me thinking was the servants in Job chapter 1. Most of you are familiar with the story of Job, how he lost all that he had, lost his health, but still remained faithful to the Lord. I want to point out what Job was left with when he lost everything.

In Job 1, 4 times one of his servants comes to him and recounts a disaster, generally worse than the disaster before. When it's all done, Job's wealth and children are gone. He has 4 servants, all with the line 'I alone have escaped to tell you.' When raiders have attacked and killed everyone, how have these escaped? When disaster has struck, and all are killed, how have these escaped? My first thought is that these were just lucky, and someone has to bear the message, but I thought about something this morning. These were the ones who abandoned their responsibilities when trouble hit. Think about it. Someone looks up and sees raiding Sabeans coming over the hills, the servants draw their weapons to fight, but one guy runs off, watches from a distance (over his shoulder) and tells Job what happened. The winds blow so furiously that the house Job's children are in collapses (I'm thinking tornado) and all are killed, except one servant who apparently fled the house in the time of trouble, but didn't bother to help anyone else. The raiding bands of Chaldeans? Another servant spotted them at a distance, but did he warn or run?

Then there is his wife, who wants him to 'curse God and die.'

Have you found yourself beset by trouble? It's happened to most of us, and will probably happen someday to the rest of us. And it could hit you more than once. What usually makes it worse? That people around you don't help. In our worst times, we need to be surrounded by people that lift us up, not drag us down.

What can we do about it? Well, usually we can't pick who is around when things go wrong, but we can be right kind of people for others when they have trouble. Let's not be the kind of people who sit back and watch disaster just so we can point it out to others. Let's be involved and encourage those around us.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Ah, the small town

I don't have a deep thought for you, just an observation. It's nice to be in a small town. I needed some lumber to fix a project here at home, so I went to Barton's. I was actually a little unsure, since for the past few years I've bought all my wood at Home Depot or Lowes, where you walk down an aisle, pick out your own, and pay for it and leave. Well, those of you in Monticello know that Barton's doesn't work that way. Instead, you tell them what you need, and they get it for you.

You know the great thing? Both of my 2x4's are straight!!! Unlike shopping in the big warehouse stores, where I tried to get one straight board, but instead always settled for boards that were warped in the same direction. The man at Barton's, I believe his name was Brett, went out, picked up two boards, made sure they were straight, and gave them to me. Amazing what happens when a professional takes care of things, isn't it?

It actually does provoke a thought. Many times we know that we need something, and we try to accomplish it all on our own. True, we ask God for a little help, but rather than waiting on Him to provide the answer, we settle for what we can figure out. What we are doing is coming up with 2 warped 2x4's when God has in mind to hand us 2 straight ones. We provide ourselves with something that passes for useful, and He has the ideal set aside for us.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

If you can't be postive

I have to go ahead and post this link. I know I posted earlier about keeping our heads up and being positive. I also know that this is hard to do. So, when you are feeling negative and pessimistic, check out this company:
www.despair.com

Look at some of the things they offer, and then realize:
It's really not that bad!!!!!

(PS...I do have some of their merchandise. I love the Pessimist Mug.)

Keep your head up!!!

I want to put a word of encouragement and challenge out to all of you who read this:

KEEP YOUR HEAD UP!!!!!

Now, what do I mean? We've probably all seen people who have attempted something, and failed. They walk away with their heads hung down, greatly distressed. Usually this is different from how they came in. You don't see sports teams start the game with their heads down, nor will you see people at this year's Olympics start with their heads down. And the winners don't leave with their heads down, either.

Why does this matter? After all, life is much more than just games and athletics. But, we can learn from these things. Arnold Palmer's father taught him that 'whatever game you play, 90 percent of success is from the shoulders up."

The success of our efforts will mostly be determined by whether we have a positive attitude about it. If we go forward expecting that things will not improve, then, guess what, they never will. If we look for problems, we will be sure to find them, and I assure you, they are there, but there are possibilities as well.

I encourage you to see the positive, and to move forward this week trusting that the God who used Joseph's mean brothers, Gideon's small army, Moses' stuttering, Peter's hotheadedness, Paul's stubbornness, John's exile, Stephen's death, Jeremiah's frustration, Jonah's disobedience, and, well, you get the idea....that this same God will use what you are facing to do greater things than you have imagined, that He will honor His promise to make all things work together for the good of them that love Him.

Now, it doesn't say it's all going to be good, but that it will work together for our good. Sometimes things are like medicine or vitamins, they don't taste good, but it is for our good.

Concluded,

Doug

Where to now?

Okay, most of the boxes are unpacked, Ann is getting ready to start school with the kids, VBS is almost over, and now, it's time for me to get really cracking as Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church. So, I sit here in the youth office, the only place I can find a line to use for the dial-up internet I'm using since we are resetting DSL here at the office and won't be up until Monday (see the church blog at calvarybaptistmonticello.blogspot.com ). And I'm wondering, where do we go from here?



Don't think I don't have some ideas. I wouldn't have come here as Pastor if I did not have in my head and heart some plans, and some vision for where Calvary Baptist Church should go. I have not come to be the mere caretaker of the church, but to engage with all that I have.



To that end, in the coming weeks, I look forward to meeting with various groups from the church to discuss where we're going and how we are going to get there. It will be an exciting and challenging process. I ask for the prayers of all my readers to have the Lord's guidance and patience as we go through this.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Under the baptistery

Last night, I was around the baptistery in the church while two of our men were working on it. I will go ahead and admit that they were were working, I was watching. Moving on...something we discovered is that to do the work that needs to be done up there, we need to turn off the water to the faucet in the baptistery. There's a little problem. When the church was built, they didn't put a cut-off for the baptistery water. So, this is going to be a little harder than it should have been, because it's a fix that wasn't expected to need to be made. In fact, between me, David Hooker, Tony Adams, and Spencer, we couldn't really find where the water pipes come from or go to. We spent a lot of time in the ceiling, under the baptistery, and in other dark, dusty, hidden spaces. With only one flashlight.

Sometimes our lives develop that way. We face challenges that we are totally unprepared for, and can't find the way to fix it ourselves. Fortunatley, we aren't here by some cosmic accident, nor were we put together by someone who didn't know what was going on. All of us are here by intention of the Great I AM, who has made the heavens and the earth. We can go to him for help. And He doesn't have to crawl around in the places in our hearts that we have made dark and dusty, because His light will illuminate all that is within us. His word will help us to see ourselves and understand where we need to go. And He will be our strength.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Right under our noses

Well, we've gotten moved to Monticello, Arkansas. It's a nice place, or at least seems to be. Of course, we've had a small hitch in our introduction to our new home. Somebody stole our lawnmower. Right out of the carport. You see, with all of the hullabaloo of moving, we just did not get the thing pushed around into the backyard from the carport. It was a minor oversight, but someone in the past couple of days looked, thought he needed a lawnmower more than we did, walked up into our carport, and walked off with it. It was taken, almost literally, right from under our noses.

This has me thinking today about our churches. More specifically, our churches and our very unpretty retention rate. We lose people out of church every week, people of all ages, shapes, and sizes. Why do we lose them? Usually because of some minor oversight. At least, it seems minor, but to them it was major. They faced something in the church that they couldn't get past. Maybe someone was less friendly, maybe they just got tired of something, and the enemy came, saw they were insecure in their faith and commitment, and walked out with them. Right under our noses. If only we had done something. Maybe they needed a mentor, maybe it was a need for a friend. It could have been a lack of accountability, a lack of being challenged to grow, or a lack of being encouraged. They might have needed rest. I've seen this in many churches, someone is worn out from doing the same thing in church, maybe it's teaching or deaconing or watching the nursery, but since no one else will do it, they have done it for years, and now, to get a break, they just drop out.

So what do we do? First, we have to acknowledge the danger. Ann and I have lived in various places over the years, the past 6 have been in the Memphis metro area. You know what we've had stolen? Nothing. Not one thing from our home, from our cars, no purse-snatching, no pickpocketing, no carjackings. Where have we been stolen from? Well, right before we married, Ann had her purse stolen in a small town in Arkansas, and now, we've had a lawnmower taken in another small town in Arkansas. You can have things stolen anywhere. Just like you can lose anyone from a church. Don't look at someone and say, 'oh, they'll never leave.' They might. True, their bodies may still show up, but their hearts and spirits have moved on.

Then, we need to make a plan to secure our folks. It may be a simple matter of movement(like putting the lawnmower in the backyard), give them something else to do, a different challenge to take. It may be simpler(like using a chain lock on the mower in the carport), give some quick encouragement. It may be harder (like enclosing the carport into a garage and closing the door), like developing true, indepth fellowship and life sharing that will make us a Biblical community.

If that seems like too much work, remember this: I've got to use my weed-eater to trim a very large yard. That's going to hurt. And if we don't do what is necessary to secure the fellowship we have, realize that we still have a huge field to harvest, and we need all of us to get it done....

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Books to read

"Be warned:the writing of many books is endless, and much study wearies the body."

So we were warned by the Preacher in Ecclesiastes, yet I just can seem to help myself. I like books, and currently am in the process of trying to read 2 or 3 at once. (I guess not quite at once, since I can split my eyes that way, but you know what I meant.) Why do I do it? Well, quite frankly, because I'm not as smart as I look. The truth is, I realize more and more every day how much I don't know. I recognize that other people may know better. Or, at the least, other people will be wrong enough to challenge my thinking and get me going in the right direction.

So, what am I reading right now? Here's the list:

First, the Bible. This one is always right, and like Mark Twain, it's not the parts I don't understand, it's the parts I do that bother me.

Second, Telling God's Story by Preben Vang and Terry Carter. Man, if I had paid attention when I was taking classes from these guys, I would be much smarter. Now all I can do is read the books.

Third, Comeback Churches by Ed Stetzer and Mike Dobson. Ok, so I'm just in the preface, and I'm usually not a big fan of the Lifeway 'this is cool right now' book phenomenon, but this might change my mind. I think the first key to a comeback church is to comeback to our first love, and goe from there.

Finally, My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. Good stuff.

That's about it for now. Gotta head home soon, then get ready for church tonight!!!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Back at work

Well, after being totally move-focused for the past week, I'm now back to going to work every day. Fortunately, now work is serving as the Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church of Monticello, Arkansas. Hopefully I will now be able to fulfill my goal of getting some posts up here a few times a week. We'll see. Target date: tomorrow!!!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Web Browser

I'm actually using Mozilla Firefox as my web browser, which has add-ons that show me time, weather, and our current threat level from the Department of Homeland Security. Wow. I remember using my computer to escape from all of these stresses. Information is everywhere, and boy, are we getting overloaded.

ThoughtLess-Ness

Okay, so it continues to be too long between blog posts. Hopefully after the move (see hibbardfive.blogspot.com ) I'll be able to stabilize. Then, we'll see about filling out deep, random, and empty thoughts throughout the week....

Service Recap for August 9 2020

Good morning! Here are the service from August 9th: Remember that the Morning Reflection videos are now at The Well Traveled Path