The occasional thoughts of an ordinary man serving an extraordinary God. Come with me as we learn, teach, and laugh along the way.
Friday, October 31, 2008
My Candidacy Announced!
I, Doug Hibbard, will seek the office of President of the United States in the 2012 Election. I will seek the nomination of either the Republican or Constitution party, and, failing that, will seek to be an independent candidate.
This blog will be occasionally updated as I have new things to report on my candidacy, policy intentions, and platform.
All suggestions are welcome.
Donations are not being accepted at this time, so put it in savings, and I'll be in touch.
The Pastor asks...
Since we don't get a lot of questions, I thought I'd ask one: Would you?
On a Whim, Woman Buys Foreclosed Home and Gives It Back to Owner
Thursday, October 30, 2008
DALLAS — A Texas woman went to a housing auction distraught about the prospect of watching strangers bid on her foreclosed home.
Then one of those strangers bought it back for her.
Now Tracy Orr can return to her Pottsboro home, making payments to the woman who unexpectedly and impulsively bought it for her.
"It means so much to all of us," Orr told Dallas television station WFAA. "It's not just a house."
Marilyn Mock said she was acting on instinct on Saturday when she decided to buy a house she had never seen for a woman she had never met. Mock was at the foreclosure auction to help her 27-year-old son bid on a house when she struck up a conversation with Orr, who was crying about losing her home.
Orr had bought the house for $80,000 in 2004 but fell behind on the payments. She lost her job a month after taking out the loan, and earlier this year she lost the house. On the spot, Mock decided to buy it, eventually bidding $30,000.
"She didn't even know if I had a job or was a nut case," Orr said in a story for Wednesday's online edition of The Dallas Morning News. "She didn't even see a picture of the house."
Mock told a crying Orr she could stay in the house, making payments to her instead of a bank.
"She needed help. That was it," Mock told the newspaper. "I just happened to be there and anybody else would have done the same thing."
Orr said she hopes others will do as Mock did.
"More than my house, she gave me something inside, and that's more important than material or financial things," she said.
The two are waiting on final approval from Fannie Mae before visiting the home.
Mock's son also got a home at the auction.
The FCC! OH NO!
If this were true, I think that Charles Stanley and David Jeremiah would join me in being thankful that the non-biblical teachings of Joel Osteen were going to be restricted to Houston.
But, it's not true. Period. Federal Courts have found that the FCC can't even fine stations for indecency, the FCC certainly is not going to be able to regulate, at least right now, the actions of independently owned TV and Radio stations. Moreover, they have no power whatsoever to control the content of the internet, cable tv, satellite tv, satellite radio, etc...
There is real danger that, with growing media consolidation, that eventually the few companies that own broadcasting will decide they don't want to broadcast religious programming. The FCC can't stop them from making those decisions. There is also a danger that religious broadcasters with their own networks and equipment will not be able to keep up with technological changes, including those mandated by the FCC.
There is a danger that, since 'spreading the wealth around' will require the government to first take it, then pass it out, that the government will decide certain things should just be owned by 'the people' and managed on their behalf by the bureaucracy. This will be the end of religious broadcasting, as well as any freedom of speech on the air.
There is also a real danger that eventually, in the name of political correctness, our country will determine that free speech does not apply to speech that offends 'reasonable' people, and the definition of reasonable will fall to lawyers and politicians. Then, all religious speech will be doomed.
But, for now, Madalyn Murray O'Hair (who is deceased), and her family, her organization, or other like minded folks are not pushing the FCC to take God off of broadcasting. CBS did NOT cancel Touched by an Angel (which wasn't really a Christian show, just a positive one) because of mentioning God, just because all shows eventually get canceled. Petition 2493 was addressed in the 1970s, and denied by the FCC.
Also, email petitions are basically meaningless. There's no way to verify that those 1000 signatures are signatures or came from 1000 different people. If you have something you are concerned about, take the time to write a letter, stamp it, and mail it.
We're doing more damage jumping at false rumors than we do if we say nothing. Find things that are real to protest.
Simply put, prayer is the communication in our relationship with God. Prayer is about speaking to God, and about listening for His answers. Does He speak audibly? Probably not. Instead He guides us to His Word, the Bible, and in other ways. I'm convinced that the more we practice praying and searching God's word for answers, the more we'll see His answers in the things around us.
One thing about prayer is that we must pray believing that there will be an answer. If we don't expect God to work, why do we bother? God still works on behalf of His children, for the sake of the promises He has made, but why are so frequently surprised when God answers prayer? We often are, then we cloak that surprise in safe terms, saying that we're just really, really grateful. But in our hearts, we didn't really expect it. I challenge you, as you move forward with God, to pray expectantly, knowing that God will answer.
Moving toward the horizon,
The goal is to provide some webspace to challenge myself and you, my readers, to a passionate obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ. I know that some of my readers are members of the church I serve, and I encourage all believers to be actively involved in a local church, so we will address various ideas that apply to the Church, local churches, families, individuals. I want to see how we can come together and build a true community of believers.
“When an opponent declares, “I will not come over to your side,” I calmly say, “Your child belongs to us already… What are you? You will pass on. Your descendants, however, now stand in the new camp. In a short time they will know nothing else but this new community."
Sounds good, doesn't it? That's truly the formula for changing the world, through the education and training of children. Except that we as Christians in America have handed that function over to our government, and that government is, in fact, hostile to our Christian faith. The time has come for us to quit playing with this fact, and face it. We may have good, believing teachers and workers in school, but, in time, they will be overwhelmed.
We as the church are responsible to help train the children of our church in the faith and in all they need to know. It is our responsibility, and not one we can keep passing off on the government. We wonder why it is that so many of our teenagers and college students have checked out of church? We've given secular humanism 40 hours a week, and the God of the Bible gets 2. Secular humanism gets educated, trained, professional teachers, and some churches have Sunday School teachers that read the lesson on their way to show up late to teach. We have given our students, youth, and children the knowledge, by our actions, that the government is right and the church is wrong.
Do I really believe this? I do. Abraham Lincoln said that the 'philosophy of the schoolroom in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.' The education philosophy of our country is now being shaped and put into place by the same people who burnt their draft cards and attacked America in the 1960s, and then went on to become professors of education, like William Ayers. Meanwhile, the people that grew up in the schools influenced by socialism and paganism are now rising to sit on Court Benches, in Senate seats, at the anchor desk, and, if it goes as expected, in the Oval Office. We see ahead of us a shift in the priority of our government, from being the last resort to being a proactive force to shape morality. And the end result will not be a Christian friendly experience. It will become, as all socialist societies do, the end of religious liberty, the end of economic liberty, and the end of academic freedom. Then it will be the end of countless lives before it's all over.
As far as the quote goes, it's Adolf Hitler. You've often wondered how someone could stand to even be the bathroom cleaner for a Nazi Death Camp, and the answer is there, in that quote. Start them when they're young to believe in your cause, and they'll never question you. Isn't it high time we start teaching our children without mixed messages? All Christian children need to have a Christ-centered education. What will we do to accomplish this? What will YOU do for your children? Grandchildren? Friends?
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Periodic Depot Maintenance
PDM is part of the maintenance and upkeep of equipment. In the Air Force, as well as for the airline industry (sometimes called a heavy or 'D' check), from time to time, you take an aircraft out of service, park it in a hangar, and start taking it apart. Those things that you cannot take apart, you X-ray or use other diagnostic tools on them. The theory behind this practice is that sometimes problems come that cannot be seen, simply through the buildup of time. Also, since most aircraft are constantly exposed to the weather, corrosion becomes a factor, and places you cannot see normally must be examined.
PDM is a costly process. It's costly in money, because you have to pay people to take the aircraft apart and then put it back together (I know, that's an oversimplification). It's costly in lost time, while the aircraft sits and is not used, not producing revenue or available for training or missions. It's costly in time, taking up to six months, depending on the complexity and size of the aircraft. There are lengthy debates about how often one should PDM an aircraft (I can email you the 30 page PDF about C-130H, and that's just 1 variant!). There are debates about who should do the work, whether it's better just to get new aircraft, and where the work should be done.
One thing there is not, however. I have not found any debate on whether or not, in some form, PDM is necessary. In fact, both in civilian and military discussion about frequency and method, the statement seems to always be "We know that this process, though difficult, is crucial."
With that being said, I propose that it is time for many of us to PDM our lives. We can't take several months out, in fact many of us can't even take more than 1 day, but we need to take that day. Stop, take apart all of the aspects of your life, and see where things have built up corrosion. See what things have begun to fall apart for lack of attention, and see where we need a tune up.
The first thing to do is to determine why you are here in the first place. I think the Westminster Confession has it right, that we are here 'to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.' Ecclesiastes puts it this way:
Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty.
Eccl 12:13 (NLT)
So, it's time for us to put away all of our false gods, all of our distractions, and focus on what we are made to be. We must decide to quit making excuses, and start making efforts to obey God and His commands. Some of us must surrender our finances, and begin to tithe. Some of us must surrender our lives, and preach, teach, go as missionaries. Some of us must surrender our pride, and work with the youth and children of our churches. Some of us must surrender our hobbies, and spend time with our own families.
I think it is also high time we PDM'ed our churches. We have a long and glorious history as Christians in America, as Baptists, as part of the Reformation, as part of the Church as a whole. But we are not expanding the Kingdom of God much these days. We are still struggling along, trying to play at church, while the world moves around us, and we're hoping that someday, maybe, the world will play with us too.
They won't. And we have waited far too long to address it. What does that mean? That means, it's time to take it all apart, find the basic framework, and rebuild it. How? The framework is that the church exists to be the visible work of God on this earth. We are here to preach the Gospel, the good news of the Lord Jesus Christ. We aren't here just to politic or to be fought over by candidates. We aren't here to have pretty buildings or to have committee meetings or to provide 'something else' for kids to do because otherwise they might do bad things. We are here, as the church of the Living God, to be a place of His Worship, to be a place of His Truth, and to be the sending point out into the world.
How will we do that? That's what we need to discuss. and nothing needs to be off-limits.
Politics---one more time
I'm an Arkansas voter, so we have 3 State Constitution amendments to vote on. I intend to vote against them all.
Amendment #1 has some good things, but also will allow the State Legislature to approve State employees becoming election monitors. This is akin to allowing the fox to decide on who guards the henhouse. The removal of the 'idiot and insane' clause is good, but this adjustment is not. Bundling two separate issues like this is done to blur the decision. You can market to people to vote for Amendment #1 because it 'removes archaic language' from the state Constitution, without pointing out that it will allow the Legislature to start processes where the state's employees will be handing out ballots, verifying ballots, etc...this is a setup for trouble.
Amendment #2 moves us towards a full-time legislature. Bad idea. The more time legislators spend in Capitol buildings, the less time they have to live with their laws. Also, the more money necessary to operate. The legislature should have to try and make a living in the environment they create.
Amendment #3 opens the door for the state lottery. I have a better plan: since we're being told that we could use $100 Million for scholarships, and the reality is that it will cost $400 million paid in to the lottery, a -75% return, why don't we just ask the people pushing for this, including our Lt. Governor, to front the money? They've spent plenty on advertising...and where does the other $300 Million go? Not to prizes...that formula will be worked out between the legislature and the lottery companies, but don't expect more than $100 million to come back out, with $200 million for operations. And no, that won't be 4000 new $50,000/year a jobs. It will be several 6-digit jobs for cronies, a few survival jobs for real workers, and the rest lost into the pockets of corruption and private profit.
Then there is Initiated Act 1, the Adoption Act. I'll vote for it, knowing that eventually it will probably be struck down. I'll vote for it, then work to strengthen the efforts of Believers and churches in Arkansas to provide for all of the Adoptive and foster care needs in this state. There ought to be more than enough Christians capable of taking care of our Arkansas kids that we have waiting list for parents, and no children waiting. Family action on this will come...
Then there is some Question about bonds for sewer and water. I'm not really in favor of $300 million of public debt, but I also like the sewage to go away and the water to come.
Then there are people:
President: Sorry, Senators, but neither of you inspire me to confidence in the future. Senator Obama will take what people have earned and give it to those who haven't, which dis-incentives hard work. Also, based on international polling, most of the countries that have policies we don't like, like Senator Obama. Why should we vote for someone that terror-states like Iran favor? And the endorsement of France is good for wine and cheese, but really, what have they done since Napoleon? (who was an egomaniacal dictator, who, in fact, lost both of his wars)
Senator McCain is a wealthy, long-time Senator. I don't like that he couldn't honor his first marriage vows, but I appreciate that he knows it is a failure. His service to our country in war is admirable, but, being medically ineligible for military service, I know there are other ways to be a patriot. I'm concerned that his age and wealth detach him from the problems of ordinary Americans.
Chuck Baldwin from the Constitution Party seems like a good choice, but running the nation is different from leading a church. Moreover, he doesn't believe in his chances to win, otherwise he would have at least stepped aside temporarily to campaign. Moreso, some of the rhetoric from the Party is a little to far.
Ralph Nader believes that government exists to protect people from their own stupidity. That, and from Chevy Corvairs. Fortunately, we have enough regulation and taxation in our country, that Chevy is nearly out of business, and is merging in Chrysler, eliminating one American car company altogether. 1 down, 2 to go...don't think we need him moving any more manufacturing from our country by increased regulation.
Cynthia McKinney, Green Party---believed as a Congresswoman that she shouldn't be subject to even being slowed down by Capitol Police, and shoved the officer or hit him, or who knows, because, after all, she said it didn't happen, and he said it did....but we don't need a President who has no respect for the law. We've been there for many, many years (more than just 7 or 8)
So, who will I vote for? Probably McCain. He seems the least repugnant. I agree with his spoken stance on moral issues, as I do with Baldwin, but McCain has a chance to handle some security issues. Plus, he will very likely be 1 term, giving us a fresh opportunity in 2012. Also, it will aggravate France if he wins. And what will they do about it? Send us bad cheese?
US Senator: Mark Pryor or Rebekah Kennedy? Neither. I'll either leave it blank or write in Jeff Noble. I can't stomach voting for someone who wants to butcher unborn children for medical research. Sorry Senator, but taking human life for science is wrong. Period. And until I see Green Party members personally eschewing cars, or jet aircraft, I will doubt their seriousness. I can't believe that we couldn't get anyone from a life party in this race. Next time, call me or someone who can at least take a shot.
US House: Mike Ross seems like a good guy, but why does he associate with people that he disagrees with? He wants the easy election of being a democrat in South Arkansas, but wants to oppose abortion and gun control, to keep the people happy. Meanwhile, he keeps in power a party that wants to take our guns and kill babies. Mike, take a stand! You get my vote this year, but not next time if you don't go ahead risk your political neck for what's right.
Local elections: Apparently, no one is running against Allan Maxwell to represent us in the State Legislature. Don't know him, and can't find what he actually believes about issues, other than his state legislator bio, which is conflicting, since the (D) means in favor of abortion, gay marriage, and government sponsored atheism, and the (Baptist) means in favor of life, Biblical Marriage, and that the government should not be hostile towards any religion, including Christianity. Will write in someone else.
What will the above write-ins do? Not prevent someone's election, but, perhaps, if someone is running virtually unopposed and only gets 80% of the vote, maybe they will listen.
Would vote against alcohol sales if that was my district. It isn't.
Haven't had time to hear about local people seeking re-election, if any. Probably will leave blank.
For those of you who wonder, I am a registered member of a 3rd party, not Republican or Democrat. I'm tired of people of faith being played by all politician, and I'm tired of people voting mindlessly for elephants and donkeys just because mom, dad, granny or pa did.
That's the politics. Until 2012, when the Doug for President Campaign gets underway.....and that's true no matter who wins!
Do I think anyone will read this? Not likely....but I wanted to voice my opinion anyway.
What are your thoughts? Post a comment...
Friday, October 24, 2008
This article does not address to moral or personal implications of deciding to be a one-income family, but does hit the economic side of it. This is worthy all of your consideration.
Should You Work or Stay at Home? - Yahoo! News
By Motley Fool Staff Motley Fool Staff – Fri Oct 24, 3:22 pm ET
Related Quotes Symbol Price Change
IBM 82.07 -2.28
LLY 31.73 -1.75
MSFT 21.96 -0.36
Everything changes when you have a child.
No, we're not talking about the late-night feedings, the sleepless nights of crying, or the (hopefully) temporary disappearance of your social life. We're talking about your financial life.
You may have had a plan going into the final months before your child was born. If both you and your spouse work, you might have planned for both of you to be back to work within a month or two after your child's birth. Yet when your child actually arrives, you might catch yourself thinking about other possibilities.
From an economic perspective, your first instinct is probably that you'd be a fool not to go back to work. After all, you've gotten used to having two paychecks to support your lifestyle. Now that you face the expenses of raising a child -- which some sources estimate at $10,000 per year or more -- it hardly seems like the time to cut your income voluntarily.
When you're considering the question of whether or not to have one parent stay at home, however, you have to think about both sides of the equation. Although staying at home will reduce your family income, it may also save you a ton of money that would otherwise go toward daycare expenses. Depending on where you live and the level of involvement you want from a nanny or other childcare professional, it's not unheard of to pay upwards of $1,000 per week for the type of full-time care that you could provide free of charge if you chose not to work. That might be plenty of incentive for you or your spouse to stop working.
On the pro-career side, the cost of giving up your job to stay at home is more than just the salary you lose. In many cases, you're also sacrificing your prospects for future job advancement. Although explicit gender-based employment discrimination is illegal, labor laws haven't stopped some companies from treating employees who choose families over career opportunities with a degree of skepticism. And while women still face the brunt of such discriminatory practices, men increasingly face the same issues in deciding whether or not to take advantage of paternity leave under the federal Family Leave Act.
Luckily, some companies recognize the value of workers with families. Many large companies, including Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT - News), IBM (NYSE: IBM - News), and Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY - News), offer paid paternity leave along with other parental benefits. But if you decide to stay home beyond your benefit period, then for most employers, all bets are off, and you risk having to start over if you later decide to reenter the workforce.
Of course, deciding whether or not to stay home with your new child is much more than just an economic decision. Ideally, you wouldn't have to factor finances into your decision at all. But for most of us, practical reality demands that we think about money matters.
By working together with your partner, however, you can reconcile the emotional needs of you and your child with the pragmatic considerations and come up with a solution that will work for everyone. If you consider all the options, you may find that making a good decision is easier than you thought.
Again from Emil Turner
| Arkansas Baptist State Convention
Recruits for World Conquest…
Posted on Friday, October 24, 2008
< go back
Recruits for World Conquest was the title given to a collection of sermons by L.R. Scarborough in 1914. God used these messages to call thousands to serve Him.
“Pastor, our church is growing, but we need to see more young people called to ministry”. Elmer Connor, a deacon at FBC, Lake Charles, LA said this to me several years ago. We agreed to pray that God would call people to the ministry from our church. I began to add the call to ministry to the invitations that I gave. That year, God called six from our church to ministry.
There are not enough young men answering the call to preach, nor enough young people becoming missionaries, nor enough young adults surrendering to ministry of any kind. I do not believe it has anything to do with the denomination. I think it has everything to do with what we want, and the things for which we pray.
Sunday School teachers, you should begin to talk to your children and youth classes about how wonderful it is to serve the Lord in His church. Tell them about the glory of the church as it reflects the glory of the Lord.
Deacons, are your children seriously considering if God is calling them to ministry? Let them know you’d be proud of them if God called one of them to preach. Elevate the ministry in the eyes of the children and youth whom you influence.
Youth minister, are you talking to the youth about the wonderful way God uses churches? Do they know that serving a church is the highest appointment to which anyone can attain?
Pastor, have you been to the youth Sunday School and talked with them about God’s call on your life? Is there a group of “preacher boys” that see you as their mentor? In the invitations have you called people to commit to a lifetime of ministry? Do you want to be the end of your line?
Parents, God may call one of your children to serve Him. It is better than being a physician, an attorney, an engineer, and infinitely better than being in politics. Give your children to God, and let Him call them.
Brothers and sisters, pray that God would send out workers into the harvest.
Our culture honors those who achieve. God honors those who serve. Ask God to call people to serve Him through His church.
From Doug: Are you willing to let go and answer the call?
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Barbecue and revival
Except, sometimes, I've been invited for a barbecue, only to discover that the person defines barbecue as 'cooking something outside over a gas grill' and has selected a lovely herb-seasoned chicken breast to cook. Now, I like grilled food too. In fact, give me an LP tank and a good burner, and I can grill you a masterpiece. But it's not Barbecue. Just because you give it that name, doesn't make it that!
With that thought in mind, I'm going to lunch, while you read the rest of this:
"Real revival comes only from God. He alone is the fountainhead. A spiritual awakening cannot be scheduled, worked-up, or humanly engineered."--Lewis Drummond
We have a tradition of planning guest preachers and singers and calling it 'revival.' But that's not what it is. Revival is when the people of God turn their hearts back to Him because He has moved them so passionately to follow Him that they cannot help it. Revival then spreads to our community because God's people cannot help but share His word and His love with everyone, and cannot help but live as close to His holiness and truth as humanly possible. The one thing we can do to make it happen is to pray. The best revival advice I ever heard was that each believer should go home, kneel down, draw a chalk circle around themselves, and pray that revival will start in that circle. And don't quit praying until it does...
Otherwise, we're not barbecuing...we're grilling. And it's not the same!
I hope that you will join me in praying for how we, as Calvary Baptist Church, can be a part of God's plan to extend His kingdom!
Hope4cee.org - Stories » Archive » Family camps bring many Roma to Christ in Poland
Family camps bring many Roma to Christ in Poland
October 21st, 2008
by Natalie Kaspar
Eight Romany believers led more than 80 Roma in worship during the fifth year of family camps started by International Mission Board workers Jerry and Brenda Goss. The number of believers is quite a contrast from the camp’s first year, when no Christ-followers from the people group existed.
More than 1,000 of the country’s 30,000 Roma have clearly heard the Gospel through the Goss’ ministry, resulting in 60 Romany believers within a 30-kilometer radius. Not only have members of this people group responded to the message of salvation through Christ, but also Jerry said he’s seen Romany men become leaders in home groups and grow in their personal walks with the Lord.
“It’s the work of the Holy Spirit,” he said. “It is awesome to see God work; to see Him transform lives is indescribable.”
Sharing Christ with illiterate Roma who enjoy fighting and drinking can be trying, but Jerry said the Lord continues to prove himself faithful.
“God has shown me … it’s not about me at all,” he said. “I’m utterly dependent on (Him) for all things.”
The five-day Romany summer camp rules are three-fold, requiring that everyone avoids alcohol, refrains from fighting and attends all Bible studies and worship services. FUGE* campers and volunteer teams from the United States have funded the events.
Future Romany outreaches in 2009 are scheduled for March 6-15, when FUGE leaders plan to volunteer for a family camp; March 15-22, when Liberty University students hope to minister through village outreach; and July 18-25, when International World Changers plan to help lead a family camp.
The Roma team based in Krakow, Poland, expanded in numbers beyond the Goss family last week as it gained Journeyman Lindsay Cade. Lindsay was a summer missionary to eastern Poland before committing to a two-year term. Jerry said her music skills will be an asset and blessing to the team.
“Music is an international language,” he said, noting many Roma will be attracted to her guitar talents. He also pointed out “fresh eyes are always good.”
Explore short- or long-term partnerships with the Goss’ ministry to the Roma of Poland by contacting Jerry and Brenda at <contact Doug for email>.
*FUGE is an organization of LifeWay summer camps, many of which have a missional focus.
Read more stories from Poland.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
What do these places have in common? They are just 4 of the areas we need to reach with the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Why did I pick these? Well, we're in Arkansas, Julius is from Nigeria, so we know someone from there, Ann and I have friends in the Solomon Islands.
And Poland is one of the places I want to go on a mission trip. So, we've got the clocks to remind us that we need to reach these places before time runs out!
But, I always manage instead to find something else. Today as I was reading on LeadershipJournal.net, I ran across the poll that you'll find below. I wanted to put this out there for you to see and think about, and to get your response. Do we need someone to come check out our church and write us inspection reports? Do you think this is a good way to evaluate the church?
Post some comments, let's try and have a conversation about this.
Poll - LeadershipJournal.net
The Wall Street Journal reports that some churches are now hiring "professional mystery worshippers" to attend their services and write inspection reports. Would you consider doing this?
• Yes, anything to improve!
• Yes, if the price is right.
• Maybe, I need to know more.
• No, too market-driven for me.
• No, we get enough criticism already.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Repost of Dr. Turner's Weblog
| Arkansas Baptist State Convention
Posted on Friday, October 17, 2008
< go back
Granny Grouch was at the counter. I didn’t much care, I only wanted my pizza and Pepsi and I’d get out of her way. The mall food court was the only place I felt like eating after a long day and I just wanted to get my food, eat it, and go watch the LSU football game in the hotel room. The elderly lady working at the pizza joint acted like my order was an imposition. One word, gruff answers, refusing to make eye contact, heavy sighs, all communicated “go away”. Granny Grouch.
I stood there tolerating it, when an African-American teenage girl came to the counter. “How much for a refill on my Pepsi?” she asked, holding out a beat-up Pepsi cup. “Free”, growled GG from behind the counter. “Oh, thank you” said the teenager, “you are the nicest lady in this mall”. Granny Grouch suddenly melted. “Aren’t you nice”, she responded, “This old cup is all beat up, let me get you a fresh one”. You could literally see the change. Then the elderly pizza lady and the teenage girl chatted about how busy their days had been, and the young lady went off drinking a free Pepsi.
I have heard a lot of good sermons. I know some “big name” preachers. But I have never seen more effective encouragement than the African-American teenager offered to the elderly lady working the pizza counter. I don’t know the spiritual condition of either person, but I know encouragement when I see it.
The teenage girl could tell that the lady waiting on her was grouchy, just as surely as I could tell it. But she chose to encourage the lady. Scripture tells us to encourage one another. Too often we respond to folks “in kind”, or we do as I was doing—noticing the surliness and feeling spiritually superior because I could recognize it. If I really wanted to be spiritual, I might have even prayed for her. But the younger lady did something. She applied Hebrews 3:13: “encourage one another”….
Don’t settle for feeling spiritual, instead, behave biblically. Encourage one another.
(From Dr. Emil Turner's blog at www.absc.org)
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Call to Decision
“Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t mean to do harm – but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.” T.S. Eliot
Another question! Yay!
6 Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7 having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.
Col 2:6-7 (NASB)6 And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him.7 Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.
Col 2:6-7 (NLT)
These verses are part of Paul's reminder to the church at Colosse that they are to follow Christ with their lives. Then, as now, there was a culture pressure to put your faith into a box, and take it out only when you wanted to. The Roman world, at the time of this writing, offered no persecution to believers in Christ, affording them the same liberties they gave the Jews. There were frequent outbursts between Jews and Christians, but a Gentile city like Colosse didn't deal with those problems for long.
Instead, the pressure on Christians was to allow the world to shape their faith. There would have been cultural pressure to participate in the various pagan entertainments, business pressure to pursue greedy deals, religious pressure to accept all of the other beliefs as equally valid.
Paul is instructing the Church not to treat their faith as something that happened, and that they can then go about life as they wished. They are to grow, now that they are rooted in Christ. Think of the trees you can buy at Wal-mart every spring. They are small, and will not grow much bigger because they have shallow roots. Or consider Christmas trees, that you can buy a 'live' tree, but if you take it home and stick it in the yard, it will not grow. It has no life possibilities because it has no root. Christians have the possibility of growth because they are rooted in Christ.
The Colossians needed to understand that this affected every aspect of their life. Part of the difficulty was that, in avoidance of legalism, there was a tendency to say that Christian life had no rules. Paul wanted them to understand that true Believers will live out their salvation in their behaviors, thoughts, actions, and speech.
Sometimes believers don't follow through, but that does not take away God's grace in their lives. Eventually, the Holy Spirit will convict them and draw them back, or they will so harden themselves against God that they don't hear Him. We have to remember that God is in the process of making us fit for eternity, and when we cross from this side to that one, we will see how far we've come as well as how far we have left to go.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
I've found that preaching clumps of Scripture works well. That way, I have a defense when someone thinks that I picked on them specifically in the sermon. That was just where we were that day, I didn't just decide to hit you with it. Now, if the shoe fits, wear it. If I preached on gossip, and you have been gossiping, recognize that perhaps God is speaking to you about your sin. When I am trying to find what to preach, I don't want to take what someone has shared with me that week and turn it into a sermon, and have you afraid to talk with your pastor because he'll preach at you on Sunday, and tell the world what your problems are.
I also have to avoid being irrelevant. I could preach about the evils of witchcraft, but most of you are well aware of the evils of witchcraft and blatant satanism. I could preach not to take the mark of the beast, but since nobody is trying to make you take it, that's not really something that will impact. Far more important is to help us understand how our society, and too often us, are embracing basic aspects of witchcraft and satanism. We find them entertaining in our movies and tv shows, we find fortune tellers funny rather than evil, we will read our horoscopes or look to other places for truth other than God. We know not to take the mark of the beast, but we don't have the willpower to fight off the mark of culture, where we just have to have the same things everyone else does. How will we stand for Christ in the face of persecution when we can't even resist a TV commercial or a sales circular? So, certain things need more emphasis.
Then there is my biggest challenge (at least I think it's my biggest). I am consistently overwhelmed by the depth of our ignorance of a Christ-centered life. This starts in my home, and covers most of our 'normal' Christian experience in America. And I want to communicate our need to live a life that is radically different from what we see around us. So, I tend to preach very heavy. I have a greater tendency to speak of the challenge, of the distance yet to go, then to try and bring encouragement for where we are. I have difficulty with being happy with the first mile of a 100 mile journey.
So, what I have to try and do, as best possible, is preach things that both challenge us and encourage us, that you understand are relevant without tuning out and thinking I'm picking on you. I have to preach just specifically enough that you get something useful out of it, without tailoring it only to one group, and preach long enough to do all this without going too long and losing you.
See why this is a prayer-based activity?
Friday, October 10, 2008
More Good stuff from Emil Turner.
Weblog: Emil Turner | Arkansas Baptist State Convention
Weblog: Emil Turner
“Our Church Is a Poor Church…”
This is exactly what a search committee member told me after I had agreed with them that I thought God was calling me to be their pastor. What the brother meant was: “we can not pay much”, “don’t preach on giving”, and “lower your expectations of us”.
Your church does not have to be “poor”. It should not aim to be rich. The goal is faithful stewardship, not a subjective description of your financial position.
Some things that will help your church members become faithful stewards:
Begin now talking about year end giving. This year, because of the cost of fuel, non-profit organizations are going to be very aggressive in soliciting your church members. Remind them now to plan on honoring the Lord and His church before they give to any other organizations.
Plan a stewardship campaign for the spring. In mid March plan a campaign to increase the number of tithers in your church. Lead the church to begin planning now.
Once a month, before you receive your morning offering, share briefly about the ministry accomplished by the tithes and offerings of your church. It motivates giving, and it reports on how the money is spent.
Ask a family to share why they tithe. Have the whole family on the platform and interview them, giving each member of the family an opportunity to say why tithing is important.
Church leaders should be expected to tithe. Deacons, Sunday School teachers, committee chairpersons—these should be tithers at a minimum. Leaders lead, and tithing demonstrates commitment, discipline, and sacrifice for the Kingdom.
Develop an endowment for your church. The Arkansas Baptist Foundation can help. Make it clear you want to build an endowment and that your church controls it to insure future ministry. When someone leaves a gift to the church, lead your church in recognizing the eternal impact of the gift.
Good stewardship is critical to reaching a lost world.
Do the crime, do the Time....
Judge sentences rap music fan to Bach, Beethoven
30 minutes ago
URBANA, Ohio - A defendant had a hard time facing the music.
Andrew Vactor was facing a $150 fine for playing rap music too loudly on his car stereo in July. But a judge offered to reduce that to $35 if Vactor spent 20 hours listening to classical music by the likes of Bach, Beethoven and Chopin.
Vactor, 24, lasted only about 15 minutes, a probation officer said.
It wasn't the music, Vactor said, he just needed to be at practice with the rest of the Urbana University basketball team.
"I didn't have the time to deal with that," he said. "I just decided to pay the fine."
Champaign County Municipal Court Judge Susan Fornof-Lippencott says the idea was to force Vactor to listen to something he might not prefer, just as other people had no choice but to listen to his loud rap music.
"I think a lot of people don't like to be forced to listen to music," she said.
She's also taped TV shows for defendants in other cases to watch on topics such as financial responsibility. As she sees it, they get the chance to have their fine reduced "and at the same time broaden their horizons."
I think there's a parallel here with what God sometimes does as He disciplines us. Usually we identify one or two things that we just don't think we can give up. For some of us, it's certain habits, for others, certain geographic locations. For some, it's the comfort of the pew (or chair!), the anonymity of the back row, the ease of home, the prosperity of our careers. Whatever it may be, when it becomes a stumbling block to our growth, God disciplines us by challenging us right there. Believe me, God's discipline and training comes in the areas we need it most. And like this judge, God often allows us the option that will stretch us, maybe inconvenience us, but not bury us under a mountain. Or we can take the baggage of bigger pain instead, but what do we learn? And do we change our behavior?
Thursday, October 9, 2008
This is not a good sign!
NEW YORK - In a sign of the times, the National Debt Clock in New York City has run out of digits to record the growing figure.
As a short-term fix, the digital dollar sign on the billboard-style clock near Times Square has been switched to a figure — the "1" in $10 trillion. It's marking the federal government's current debt at about $10.2 trillion.
The Durst Organization says it plans to update the sign next year by adding two digits. That will make it capable of tracking debt up to a quadrillion dollars.
The late Manhattan real estate developer Seymour Durst put the sign up in 1989 to call attention to what was then a $2.7 trillion debt.
I think this shows us where we are as a nation. For too long we have lived on borrowed money and we are reaping the consequences. If we are going to move forward as the United States, and if we want a United States for our children, we have to review our national priorities and actions. Eventually, all debts come due, and we will have to pay them.
Even worse, we have been living on borrowed time and bankrupt spirituality. We have to reach a point that we realize that what we have in terms of time and national strength comes as a blessing from God, and if we do not acknowledge Him, we are prone to lose that blessing. We need to turn our hearts as American Christians back to loving and serving God, and pray for those around us. Otherwise, we as the people of God will turn out to be the stumbling block which our nation trips over.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Wow, what a concept! Did you know that, if I do those 3 things, within 20 years almost 50% of my income will be disposable income. That means that 20 years from now, with the kids out of the house, Ann and I will be able to tithe, eat, have a roof over our heads, transportation, and be able to fund mission trips, church activities, and help people in need! Most of this will actually be sooner than 20 years!
Unfortunately, although most of us live this way, and if you've got a small business, you definitely do this, the US Congress doesn't see the need to do the same. Instead, Congress feels that the solution to economic trouble is more debt. Here's the problem: that $700000000000 will be sold as bonds, which some investors will buy, providing the national debt funding. The national debt will rise to over $11000000000000, most of this is owed to bond-holders. These bond-holders are people, businesses, funds, foreign governments (that should have been illegal. The US Government has to pay China!) that otherwise could be doing the following: Buying stock in businesses to strengthen their finances. Buying real estate, buying community bonds (cities and states often use bonds to finance improvements), buying corporate bonds (which companies sometimes issue to raise money to expand, offer more jobs), buying church bonds (which allow churches to build, expand, reach more people!). This money could be invested in research. Or paid as dividends. Or left in CDs at banks, which increases the bank's assets, so banks don't fail!
So, where do we go now? I tell you where: to the One whose economy doesn't ever fail. We cannot lose our focus on God just because of market failures or bank issues. As believers, the most important thing we have is a relationship with the One True God. Apart from Him, we're doomed. Will life be easy in a time of economic turmoil? Uh....no. Christians will lose jobs just like lost people. Christians will see their retirement funds go down, their taxes go up. What we have is God to watch out for us. We may have to see ourselves back in a community like the book of Acts, where, since almost everyone was poor, they shared with everyone in the church family. Those who were wealthy gave up their wealth for the family.
For those of us with American Independence deep in our souls, who were raised to revere self-reliance, this will be hard to cope with. However, let's see what else happened there: 3000 saved in a day, people healed. Preachers could preach half the night until someone dies, then raise him from the dead, and preach until day break! I'd love to see all of these things, except maybe preaching all night. If we took turns, it would be great!
I will say this: we have little to truly fear about the coming times, because He has promised to be with us. Let's hold on to that!
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