Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Again, I borrow Dr. Turner's Blog

The ABSC offices were recently moved from downtown LR to a new location. Here are Dr. Turner's thoughts about the move.

Doug



Lessons Learned in Relocation by Emil Turner, Executive Director ABSC
Posted on Friday, February 20, 2009
< go back

The Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) recently relocated from downtown Little Rock where we’d been for more than forty years to the edge of the city. There were several good reasons for the move: employee safety, maintenance costs on the old building were escalating yearly, the new site is easier for people to access, and our staff can get to the churches more easily.



I have led churches to build in the past, and learned some valuable lessons in the process. But there were some surprising insights from this experience.

1.
Building through committees is the least efficient way to build. I’ve done it both ways. A good decision maker with good counselors will produce as good a product as a committee in less time with less expense. The committee’s primary value is that it insures congregational “buy-in”.
2.
Most things can be fixed. Don’t panic. The painter can do it over, the concrete finisher can pour some more, and the dry wall people can add an expansion joint. I should have known this; God does it all the time.
3.
New on the outside does not mean new on the inside. My books are the same, the furniture is the same, the desks are the same, and the computers are the same. In our case, this is good. This reminds us that work is produced by what is inside us, not what is outside us.
4.
Work for people, churches, and the Lord can not be suspended because of other tasks. Al Farmer, who manages ABSC computer and telephone connections, had our phones working within five hours of starting the move, and our computers working within 24 hours of starting the move. He kept us connected with you and we had no complaints about being “out of service”.
5.
Nothing stays new long. Bookcases get scratched when you put the books on the shelves, doors get dinged when you move a crate through them, and carpets get stained by muddy shoes as soon as they are installed. Sin ravages us all. We must guard against it, confess it, and allow God to fix it.
6.
It is not finished until it looks good. Mary is a decorator, and volunteered her services on this project. Her contributions make it look great, and omitting her work would have left the building unfinished. Churches would do well to remember that their appearances to their communities shape what the community thinks of them.
7.
Balance is critical. Neither opulence nor shabbiness is acceptable in such building. Balance in our lives keeps us from liberalism and legalism, from carnality or “hyper-spirituality”. Jesus was full of grace and truth: balance.

Monday, February 23, 2009

SBC Resolution from Doug #1

Ok, I'm going ahead with my series of proposed resolutions. Here's the first:
(note: I haven't taken 'Nice Phrasing and Doublespeak 101')

On the responsibilities and identity of Baptists:

Whereas the Bible is
the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried; and

Whereas certain doctrines of Scripture are hard to understand, even for an Apostle (2 Peter 3:15-16); and

Whereas perfect understanding is not necessary to preach that Christ was born, lived, died, and rose again, according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:1-5); and

Whereas the Holy Spirit has been given to guide us into the fullness of truth (John 16:13); and

Whereas even Paul was able to rejoice that Christ was preached, even out of selfish ambition or pretense (Philippians 1:17-18); and

Whereas we expend a great deal of time, money, and energy between various debates in Baptist life that are of lesser importance than the Gospel and the Great Commission; and

Whereas we then find our missions, ministries, and evangelism shortchanged since we expended our time, money, and energy dogpiling on another; and

Whereas we have a doctrinal statement that allows for a varied understanding of some of these debates while still being faithful to it; be it therefore:

RESOLVED: that we quit attaching more doctrinal expectations on people than Scripture and the text of the agreed on doctrinal confession of the SBC; be it further resolved

RESOLVED: that we emphasize the preaching of the Gospel, whether we understand that man has no part in his salvation or that he must believe, whether we believe Christ died for all or only for the elect; be it further

RESOLVED: that pastors and churches that can afford to send or attend conferences intended only to fortify entrenched positions be encouraged to instead send the money to the IMB, NAMB or their state convention (note: encouraged, not required. local church autonomy) for the purpose of the Gospel; be it further

RESOLVED: that we get past this and use our time, money, energy, blogs, state papers, conferences, churches, sermons, lectures, seminary time to PREACH THE GOSPEL TO PEOPLE THAT ARE GOING TO SPEND AN ETERNITY IN THE WRATH OF GOD IF THEY DO NOT ACKNOWLEDGE CHRIST AS LORD!!


That's my first thought. I know, it's rough, it's simplistic. My Calvinist brethren will tell me that the Doctrine of Grace is the Gospel, my Baptist Identity brethren will find some other fault, some will say we can't have 'tongue speakers and beer drinkers' serving as missionaries (more on cessationism elsewhere), others that we should take whomever we can get, and you can find a myriad of faults.

My point is this: the first SBC was founded over a dispute about which sins should disqualify missionaries. Honestly. That was it. Southern folks felt that slavery shouldn't disqualify you, northern folks thought it should. Northerners allowed people to serve as missionaries that had other sins in their lives, but not slavery. (note: SLAVERY IS BAD, RACISM IS BAD) Southerners didn't feel that slavery was any worse of a sin, if even a sin (Biblically, you have to deal with that: most of the Old Testament patriarchs had slaves. I think Philemon shows Christians shouldn't own other Christians, but you have to extend beyond a clear dictate of Scripture to say all slavery is unacceptable. I think it is, based on Biblical prinicples, but not a specific verse.)

So what did we do? Established missionary groups that would allow people to serve if they believed themselves called to do so by God, and were willing to undertake the hardship.

Now, 160 years later, we don't even want someone who takes a little wine for their stomach, differs from one group's definition of glossolia or other spiritual gifts, and we can't allow disagreement about people that find a differing balance between in Christ there is no male or female and women should be in submission to men. We don't know how to handle people's disagreements over whether you're born again and then are able to believe, or if you believe, and then you're born again, also known as the Calvinism-Founders vs. Baptist Identity/NonCalvinist disagreement. We aren't sure if we should meet social needs and then preach the Gospel, or just preach the Gospel, or meet social needs and then hope somebody might wonder enough to hear the Gospel. Should we let divorced people preach? We spend a great deal of time on these issues. Shoot, I've spent an afternoon writing a blog post about the fact that we seem to waste time on these issues.

I think it's time we pulled the plug on a lot of this debate. Let the messengers to the Convention vote on our doctrinal statement, and vote for the Board members that run our agencies and activities. These people should structure those entities to operate using only the SBC doctrinal statement as their guideline. If we need to expand the BF&M to narrow down and exclude some folks, we should do so. We did with the women pastors issue, although that leads to more questions: what about children's pastors? Youth pastors, worship pastors? And pastors aren't the only ones who preach.

Maybe we have too many things going on that are funded by our Cooperative Program dollars. Perhaps it's time to dial it back, and focus our cooperation on: International Missions, National Missions, and Education. Leave all questions of qualifications of workers to the organizations they work for, and let states deal with what makes a qualified, cooperating church.

In 1859, right before the nation plunged into Civil War, the SBC adopted this resolution:

Resolution On Controversies
May 1859


RESOLVED, That, as members of this Convention, we express our earnest conviction that personal controversies among pastors, editors, and brethren, should, from this time forth, be more than ever studiously avoided.


That's it. May we find a way back to that simplicity. The Word of God hasn't changed, so why have we? Are our times really that different?

Resolutions and the SBC

One thing we do as Southern Baptists is send messengers every year to the Southern Baptist Convention. (At some point, there should be a long blog post about how we are in some of the messes we are in as a group of churches partly when we started referring to the whole bunch as the Southern Baptist Convention. We're not the Convention. The Convention is an annual gathering of messengers. Everything else is on behalf of the participating churches in the Convention and those churches of "Like (read:same) faith and order." The Convention doesn't exist in February. The churches exist all year.)

Anyway, those messengers vote on a lot of things on behalf of the churches that have sent them. (By the way, they are messengers, not delegates. We elect people from churches that have the ability to discern God's direction for themselves. The church ought NOT instruct the messengers how to vote. Comes back to soul competency: you, as a believer, are a competent soul to interact with God through His word by the power and direction of the Holy Spirit.) One of the groups of voting items are called Resolutions. What are resolutions? A statement that the group of people, gathered at that time and in that place, think a certain way about a certain subject. A committee reviews submitted resolutions, discards some, recommends others. A committee discard can be considered by the whole body with a 2/3 vote. (note, first you have to 2/3 of the convention vote to consider it, then you actually vote on it).

Some resolutions are, fundamentally, automatic. I don't think the Convention has ever failed to express its appreciation to the host city or any churches directly involved. So, it's a safe assumption that we'll appreciate Louisville this year. Unless, of course, they are mean to us, but I don't see that as very likely. If Las Vegas was appreciable, Louisville will be. Some years most of the resolutions are fairly innocuous: one expects Baptists to speak against alcohol, pornography, gambling, and various other moral evils. Sometimes a resolution stirs up passionate feelings, as resolutions on homosexuality, women's roles in the church, divorce, and church accountability did (this was finally brought up last year. some folks for years have wanted us to address that we claim 16 million members and only 6 million show up on Sunday. Either we're not counting right or worse, we aren't holding people accountable. But that resolution was rough) One year a resolution on education was submitted but didn't get out of committee (as I recall) that stirred up a lot of trouble. It called for people to withdraw their children from government-run schools to provide an education with a Christian viewpoint instead. (I think that was 2004.) Other resolutions either counter prior ones (in the 1800s, Baptists didn't want to 'embarrass itself with any enterprise for the publication and sale of books. Now we have a whole book publishing company and retail chain, thanks in part to a 1910 resolution), some are politically driven, like 1981's resolution about not changing national election day, some are driven by the times, like are seen during various crises in our country, some are strange: did anyone need the SBC to take a stance not once, but 5 times, on highway safety? Well, the way some of us still drive, probably so.

The point is, every year, we have something to say about a lot of things. What would you like to see us adopt a resolution on? I have some things in mind, and will share them in further posts. Will I submit them? I'll probably pick the best one, send it in, and see what happens. Most likely, anything I submit won't make it out of committee, and the only who'll notice is me.

By the way, the committee does have a major task in gatekeeping. They pare down duplicate resolutions, wade through dumb ones (there's a website I'd like to see! Dumb resolutions that never got out of committee.), and try to make sure the ones submitted to the whole convention are clear and worthy of the time to discuss them.

Why do we use so many words now?

I found this resolution on the SBC's website:

Resolution On Controversies
May 1859


RESOLVED, That, as members of this Convention, we express our earnest conviction that personal controversies among pastors, editors, and brethren, should, from this time forth, be more than ever studiously avoided.


I think that qualifies as enough said.

Another good link

I'd like to point you to this link:

http://blog.9marks.org/2009/02/james-resolutions-on-speech.html

Do you hold your speech to these standards?

Why not?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Blogging and Christian Responsibility

I highly recommend reading this post:

http://www.koinoniablog.net/2009/02/eph-429-and-blogs.html

Why? Because Dr. Mounce is right. Sometimes we forget that the web and blogs are not free-for-alls. Those of us who claim to be Christians still have a responsibility to act that way, even in the anonymous format of the internet. Why?

Remember the whole story of David and Bathsheba? Perfect little cover-up, everything's fine, right? Wrong:

But the thing that David had done was evil in the sight of the LORD.

2 Sam 11:27 (NASB)


So, realize that the Lord sees and knows. Let's act like it, okay?

Why do we teach?

This morning, I was reading 1 Timothy 1:5:

5 But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

1 Tim 1:5 (NASB)

As I reflected on this one, I thought about it in light of how and why we teach in our churches. Often we teach with the hope of behavior modification, without really contemplating exactly what that will take. We teach 'Tithe' or 'Stay faithful in marriage' both of which are mandatory for Christians. But do we teach it effectively?

One thing I'm seeing here is that our instruction (NASB footnote has 'or commandment') is not just about information, but teaching, especially in the church, has at its heart that actions will follow. In school, you're not just reading those books for fun. The intention is that you will act, in some way, based on what you read. Education is intended to result in actions by the educated, which is why the worldview basis of where your kids go to school is much more critical than most people acknowledge. ooops...bunny trail...

off the bunny, on the main trail: Then I'm seeing this: the first aspect of instruction that Paul is talking about is 'love from a pure heart.' Our first goal is to instill love in the hearts of the people we teach. Not just any love, but love from 'a pure heart.' Where does a pure heart come from? From being made new in Christ. Jesus said that if we loved Him, we would obey His commandments. So, instilling a love for Christ that drives the motivation for obedience is critical. And this comes more from the attitude and life of those who teach than just from their words. We should have a genuine love for Christ, a genuine love for those we teach, and a genuine love to learn ourselves.

Out of the love we teach through our actions, our goal is a 'good conscience' which comes from doing right things. Our words and example teach right actions, which include proper doctrines. Doctrines are the framework on which we place the principles that drive actions. For example, one should not just teach not to commit murder, but the doctrine behind it. Even God did so in Genesis 9:6, explaining the doctrine that makes the action sinful. So, we teach right actions and proper beliefs, so that we meet our goal of a 'good conscience'

I separated the idea of doctrines from love for this reason: our love for Christ is what compels us to right doctrine. I hold to a deep need for truth and correct doctrine, but recognize that without love it is useless to be right. However, to love untruth is not true love.

Our attitudes and words demonstrate love, our words and examples teach correct belief and action. Our faith trusts God with the results. Ultimately, we should strive to teach to the fullest of our ability, and trust the Lord God with the outcome.

This is NOT an excuse for slacking. Just as a boring preacher cannot blame the Holy Spirit, so an unprepared, disinterested teacher cannot blame God for poor results. Our responsibility is to provide the best we can, and trust the power of God to do the rest.

That's the Doug opinion tonight.

Stimulate the economy!

Right after President Obama takes a long weekend.

Makes perfect sense, right?

We passed a law over 1000 pages in length with 12 hours to review it so that it can sit and wait until Tuesday for the President to sign it. This is ridiculous!

I'm not sure who will come forward as new candidates in Arkansas in 2010, but those candidates will get my vote.

Congressman Ross's website says that he is 'proud to have led the efforts to eliminate the “pork” from this bill, removing the earmarks for contraceptives and resodding the National Mall, and I fought off attempts to include frivolous requests like a water park in Florida. This bill is now focused on creating jobs and stabilizing our economy—not funding legislator’s pet projects.'

And I'm sure he read all 1000 pages before he voted for it, right? Made sure that the 8 billion for a railway between Los Angeles and Las Vegas wasn't in it, right? Oh, wait, there's MORE MONEY for that project than the entire state of Arkansas!!! That's a great deal. And how is there a 'website showing where the money is going'? You don't even know where the money is going.

Senators Lincoln and Pryor will also not get my vote. You couldn't wait long enough to read the law? What else have you passed without considering?

And then, this all-fired, hyper-important, we're all going to die unless we pass it without reading it law, sits. From Friday until now. The President has no power or authority to change it, just to sign it and enforce it. After all, didn't he campaign against the 'signing statements' President Bush was using to ignore Congress? So we know for sure President Obama will enforce and enact this legislation exactly as written, right?

Well, when he gets around to it. Right now, it's time to relax and enjoy Chicago.

Monday, February 16, 2009

On Track

Well, today they've done some digging on the sewer. I honestly don't know if it's totally fixed yet or not. But, today we're trying to get back on track anyway around our house.


But, today brings renewed efforts to refresh Greek and learn Polish, to pre-outline sermons, and to plan ahead!

Sounds good to me. How about you? Are you on track with your goals? How will you get back to it?

Public Service Announcement

For the record, there are NO stimulus checks being passed out by the Government. Don't click on any internet advertisements claiming you can get your stimulus check. It's a scam.

Further questions about church

There were a few comments on last week's post about church. I'll narrow the point down further: What do you think the purpose of church services are?

For example: Is the purpose of Sunday Morning church to strengthen church members? If so, then those members are the ones who should guide the development, formation, and planning of the service. The manner of preaching should relate to how they live and what they understand, the music style should be what they are comfortable with.

Is the purpose of Sunday Morning church to win lost people to Jesus Christ as Lord? If so, then the thought processes of unchurched and unsaved people should be our determinant. What schedule will appeal to the world around us? What music? How do we preach?

Now, most of you are going to say that the church should both disciple the saved and evangelize the lost. But in a lot of these things, can you have it both ways? Are you discipling the saved by going over the elementary things of Christ every week? Are you reaching the lost by assuming on their knowledge? Or by demanding they show up at the same old time and in the same old place?

Then there's subject matter. There's no point in preaching to the lost that some are called to be prophets, teachers, evangelists, or about raising children to follow Christ, when they will have no basis to understand these things without a saving faith in Christ. So, what should we preach?

Now, try to fit all of that into an hour to an hour and 15 minutes. And you'll see why some preachers get stressed.

What do you think? Share your opinion, disagree respectfully. If you think it's Biblical but can't reference it, say so. Somebody else may be able to find it.

Repost from Dr. Turner at ABSC

Ten Ways to Make Worship Fresh
Posted on Friday, February 13, 2009

Predictability is good for meals and paychecks, but is an enemy in encountering God. Encounters with God are usually “extra-routine”.

If you can recite the order of your Sunday worship service without looking at the bulletin so can most of your congregation. Avoid just going through the motions of worship.

1.Change the way you start. Have the choir enter from the back of the sanctuary; begin with a season of prayer, or testimony. Never begin consecutive services the same way.

2.Interview church members about God’s work in their lives. It may be a stewardship testimony, or a testimony about healing, or witnessing. Interviews use time better and are more comfortable for your members than testimonies.

3.Use video in promotions. Last years’ VBS video is a great way to promote this year’s VBS. A missionary moment on video is great during an offertory or before an offering is collected. Make sure all the equipment works in advance.

4.Use questions and answers in a sermon. Instead of “someone has asked, ‘why should we witness?’” in a sermon, have someone in the congregation actually ask the question during the sermon. Again, practice is important.

5.Affirm people who have done well as volunteers. Thank deacons for their ministry. Honor Sunday School teachers, or committees. Never do all of these on the same Sunday, but do them all in the course of a year.

6.Vary the time of the offertory. At the end, at the beginning—folks can give at any time. Remember, predictability often leads to routine rather than worship.

7.Do not announce anything that has been written on a screen, or in the bulletin. If you can not institute a “cold turkey” approach to eliminating announcements, begin by limiting the number of announcements progressively until you can say, “Please be sure to read the announcements in your bulletin”. Some will assume that the lack of announcements devalues the activities. Eliminate this complaint by ending the service earlier because you don’t make the announcements!

8.Responsive readings are underused, and unify the church around Scripture. Used at different times in the service, they are wonderful ways to reinforce the point of the sermon or service.

9.A brief explanation of some denominational emphasis will be interesting for most church members. Not too often, but frequently enough to communicate the value of the ABSC and SBC.

10.Use history to your advantage. Example: Sunday, February 8 in 412 AD, Constantine became the first Christian emperor, speeding the spread of Christianity throughout the empire. Use this as a call to pray for elected officials and politicians.

The ABSC exists to help you accomplish your goals. Let us know what you need.


Emil Turner serves as executive director of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention. He and his wife, Mary, have two sons and two grandsons. Turner enjoys fishing and hunting in his spare time.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

On the nature of church

I had a great morning with a friend of mine today. Jeff Noble, pastor of Journey Church here in Monticello, and I are working on some ideas that our churches can work together to reach our community. We get along quite well, although we don't exactly agree on everything. And, to tell the truth, our churches look and behave quite differently. Here at Calvary, we are a very traditional Southern Baptist church. We have most of the typical activities of a Southern Baptist church, and think very much like a small town group of folks. Journey, on the other hand, while being Southern Baptist church, is about as untraditional as you'll find, especially in small town Arkansas. They have church Sunday morning, but no Sunday School, Sunday night church is small group meetings in homes, they don't even own an organ!

So, naturally, the two pastors have some different viewpoints on churches and ministry. That doesn't mean we can't find ways for our churches to work together.

However, some of our discussion has me pondering: What constitutes a church? For example, we Southern Baptists together support Baptist Collegiate Ministries on college campuses. One of them, at the University of Arkansas-Monticello, is right here in town. (follow bcmguy on twitter)
At the BCM, they seek to disciple Christians, evangelize the lost, fellowship, worship, and pray together. BCMs generally don't do the Lord's Supper or Baptism, which we Baptists hold as the 2 ordinances of the church, but they don't do that because the churches that financially support BCMs tell them not to.

So is a BCM a church? I'm inclined that they aren't, because a church shouldn't have any qualifications for membership beyond Scripture, and typically, you're not in a BCM if you're not connected to the college campus. But, it's often the point of first contact, and sometimes, since our churches aren't really very geared towards that age bracket, the only place college students are comfortable with spiritual issues, the BCM does most of the church functions. So maybe they are.

And on that note, what should churches focus on? One aspect of the BCM is they are very geared towards drawing in unchurched people, folks with no religious connection at all. Most people like that aren't coming to church, but we expect Christians to come to church. And there are things we expect of Christians that unchurched/lost people will have no understanding of. A classic example is tithing. As a pastor, I have a responsibility to teach the Believers in this church that God requires of them to give the first 10% of their income in obedience and faith. But to preach this in a room of unchurched folks leads to "the church just wants our money." So do I skip it, so that unchurched will come and hear the Gospel, and become believers? Or do I preach it, so that Believers get the challenge to obey?

This connects to other issues, and one of the Scriptural issues comes back to the principles of Romans 14, how those who are more mature and have better understanding should do what's necessary to help the less mature to grow (I keep thinking there's better Scripture on that, can't remember, can't find it). However, how do you determine how that applies in church? Does this mean that we cast aside traditions for the sake of drawing new believers? Or do we hold certain things as a standard, realizing that church isn't about your preferences, but about a corporate experience?

Just some wonderings. And please, throw in some comments.

Another fine mess

For those of you keeping up, here's the latest from two of our 'allies':

China wants 'guarantees' of US Treasuries. Translated: we own you, your government policy must be done in a manner that we approve of. Go ahead and run up your debt with 'stimulus' packages, because we'll just own you more, and control you more. It's the classic twist on the golden rule. Not the one the Lord Jesus Christ said, but the Wizard of Id version: He who has the gold, makes the rules. Yep. So, now, American financial policy will be driven by what atheistic Communists tell Secretary of State Clinton. Sounds exactly like what the Founding Fathers intended, right? The ones who bickered about the Constitution until Benjamin Franklin, Deist or whatever he was (probably not a Christian, but maybe), suggested that they begin each day with prayer. Sure enough, out comes a Constitution described by the 2nd President this way: "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." (Now, Pres. Adams may not have been a Christian either, but he certainly would disagree with China's official government religion or lack thereof, and certainly all of the Founders would spin in their grave that a government that denies freedom of religion, assembly, press, and reproduction [how is it that we hold a woman's right to abortion sacred in this country, even at the cost of the baby's life, and have put ourselves in position to be dictated to by a country that allows women no reproductive freedom at all?] will be telling the US how to handle our economy?)

But that's not all! Look at this article from that bastion of civil liberties, keeper of the holy sites of that religion that is empowering to women: click here. Yep, this is Saudi Arabia and Islam. Don't kid yourselves, according to a publicly available legal databse the "Holy Quran is the Constitution of the country." So, loving, tolerant Islam stipulates that a woman who is raped is guilty of adultery and deserves 100 lashes and a year in prison? Never mind the added problem that she is now probably too damaged culturally to be married, and is at risk for being killed by her family to cleanse their honor. And realize that Iran is the same way, and these are the people that we want to talk to?

Anyway, it is getting close to time to hunker down and send lawyers, guns and money. The stuff is hitting the fan...

A link to a good read

Here's a link to a good read from one of the over 200 economists that think the current stimulus spending plan is a bad idea. Note that he's not anti-President Obama, or anything of the sort. He's just one of many who, contrary the President's assertion that 'everyone agrees' the government needs to bailout the economy, disagree.

And remember, our President has promised to include everyone and not be like the last President, who refused to listen to differing opinions.


And for a brief discussion of economics, it's not near as boring as you might think. Though, at this point, we need to get over being bored by economics and really learn what's going on.

Here's the link: http://popecenter.org/commentaries/article.html?id=2129

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Detachment

It's been a hectic couple of days, which unfortunately lead to being detached from the world around me. I've been thinking about that, and have realized that this is, for me, a greater danger than inactivity. True, when I don't have something going on, I tend to let my mind space out, which is not always good.

But when things knock me out of my routine, I tend to shift mentally to a 'nothing is going to get done' mode. Which is a bad mode. Especially since it's been 4 days, and will probably be at least another one before life moves back towards normal. Why? Because plumbers in Monticello don't work weekends, which means that Saturday's sewer disaster didn't begin to get solved until Monday. And on Monday, it was discovered that the sewer line is broken off from the sewer main, which requires digging the thing up, which requires a call to Arkansas OneCall, who will come mark the gas main and such, to make sure the plumber doesn't do some serious damage. OneCall has a 72-hour service time, maybe sooner, maybe later. Then, after they mark the lines, the plumber will get back when he can, dig up the broken parts, fix it, and we'll be free to flush again! Except that it's also raining. And I don't know if he'll have to wait until it's dry or not to dig.

And keep in mind, they don't work weekends. So, if OneCall takes 72 hours to respond, that'll be Thursday, and then maybe it'll get done on Friday or perhaps...Monday. This is, of course, not the only possibility. Perhaps Rick Anthony is out there, right now, digging hard to get this done. I don't know.

Anyway, my point was that, I'm in my office. Where everything works. So why should the fact that the sewer at home doesn't keep me from working? It shouldn't. I don't even have to worry about the family. They're up the hall, here at the church. And the cats do not know how to flush a toilet, so they're not in any danger either.

It comes back to training ourselves to be focused and disciplined. There are always going to be distractions and inconsistencies in our days. We have to be prepared to face those, and still stay on target with what we need to do. Don't detach from the world just because some things knock you off track. Instead, make the effort to stay with your other routines, just to help your sanity!

Have a good day!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

And then the weekend....

Well, loyal reader(s), I'm sure you've read the Frustration Friday series. And, if I may be permitted to whine a bit more, Saturday went worse.

Nope, not about the bounced-check issue. I'm fairly certain we have that resolved. No, the house in Mississippi is not the issue, although if you're looking for a nice investment property, let me know.

No, the problem is the house we're renting down here in Monticello. We were trucking nicely through Saturday, cleaning the kitchen, doing some laundry, and about 3 o'clock that afternoon, Angie went down the hall to the restroom. To discover that there was about 1/2 inch to an inch of water standing in the bathroom floor, and a nice flow from the toilet into the hall. On top of this, the bathtub is about 3 inches deep. Which is a problem, since the bathtub isn't on. So, we stopped the washer, and started drying up with towels. Then we called our landlady, got her permission to call a plumber, and called one.

And waited. So I called again, and called another plumber. And called another plumber, and waited. Meanwhile, we relocated up to the church so that we could, well, do things you can't do when your sewer doesn't flow. 3 more calls to plumbers, 3 more messages left. A call made to a plumber that advertises '24-hour emergency service' went unanswered, and 3 messages unreturned. I called the 1-800 number for Roto-Rooter national service. They asked for the zip. No affiliate down here.

By 5, I'd called and left nearly 20 messages on various plumbers' machines. Apparently, the economy is good enough down here that plumbers don't work weekends. I have gotten used to a lot of smaller town life, but this one has me boggled. You can't even check your messages and call me back? Not even tell me to go away?

So, I called one of my church members who knows lots of folks, and asked if he knew a plumber. He gave me the same numbers I already had. But, he brought his pipe snake, and try to snake it. No luck. He went home, I brought dinner to Ann and the kids. Then, after showering the kids, we went home, to put them in bed and pack up stuff for today. David and another man from our church, Ricky, were out in the yard, having convinced Brett, another man from the church to help them get another drain snake, to make a longer one. Again, they fed it down the clean out, no luck. It hit something solid, and wouldn't go farther. Then, they went back and got some seriously mean drain cleaner. Which fumed and smoked, and cleaned, well, nothing.

So, tomorrow, hopefully, I will be able to get a plumber to find it in his heart to come out to my house, somewhere within whatever his working hours are, and figure out the problem. Meanwhile, I appreciate the small-town heroic efforts of my church guys, but shouldn't someone who advertised '24-hour emergency service' have been available? Even the city public works guy said he would not expect any plumber in Monticello to answer the phone on the weekend, even for him.

So, if you want to make some side money, come to Monticello, and be an after-hours plumbing person. You might not work every weekend, but you could make some serious money when you do.

That's my whining for now. I want my sewer to flow. I know that many people in this world don't have sanitation like we do. I know it's a blessing. But, come on, this is America. For what we pay for housing, water and sewer, it ought to work. I can order a pizza at 2 in the morning, but I can't get a plumber at 3 in the afternoon?

So, Monday morning, I will start calling plumbers again. And we'll see how long that goes.

Maybe I won't pay them until it's convenient for me to pay them. And not return their calls when they try to collect.

No, I won't do that. It's tempting, just like the whole situation is irritating and hard to see how God is at work in it. But somehow, I will believe that He is. He's certainly stretching my patience, which scares me about what's next. But til then,

Doug

Friday, February 6, 2009

Settling in

I'm still trying to strike a balance in my working schedule. I still fluctuate between bursts of creativity and productivity, with lulls in between. I think it would be better to spread things out, but fight to know how. Any suggestions?


And yes, I really want your suggestions. I turned comment moderation on because of a couple of small problems I was having with bots and people just reposting parts of blog posts in comments.

Frustration Friday revisited

Well, in the interest of fairness, the primary culprit of our financial issue is not our renters. While they do bear responsibility for their finances, because they aren't members of Congress or Presidential appointees, the fault lies also with their bank.

I should have realized this when I saw they bank with Regions. Apparently, the problem truly hit when they deposited their tax refund check with Regions (perhaps a RapidTax Refund Anticipation loan or something like that. Which are not really good things if you can help it. Get your refund filed electronically, and direct deposited. we're talking a 10 day turnaround, and a lot less cost.). Anyway, Regions put a hold on the check. Basically, Regions wasn't sure if the check was good or legit or something, and so they had money in their account.

But the bank wouldn't let them spend it. So, bouncing back comes their rent check.

Now, every bank has their own policies. But this is ridiculous.

Global Warming Protest Picture

I saw this picture at todayilaughed.com. It's of a global warming protest.

Note: I have not looked at much else on that website. click through at your own discretion. If you lack discretion, get off the internet until you have some.

Rantings: Ask for help

Just a personal ranting for a moment: if you want my help with something, ASK FOR IT!!! Do not assume that I will draw the conclusion that you need my help, or that I will automatically jump up from my own work to help you with a task you took on yourself. Nor should you assume that just because I don't look to you like I'm doing something, doesn't mean I'm not busy.

Am I willing to help? Yes. But ask for it. Don't assume it, don't say "You're going to help," say "would you help?" Even throw in a please. I'll bend as much of my personal schedule as I can to help.

But ask for it.

Frustration Friday

If you're a reader of Ann's blogs, you probably noticed that we're struggling with an issue around our family. What happened? Well, a little over 2 years ago, we were able to buy a house in Horn Lake, Mississippi. Then, we moved from Horn Lake, Mississippi. We had some friends that needed a house to rent and hopefully buy. This seemed like an ideal situation. So, they're renting the house for just enough for us to pay our mortgage payments on it. Basically, the only profit we are ever going to realize is that, when the house really does sell, we'll have a little more equity in it. Not much, given that we're in the first 5 years of a 30 year mortgage, which is when the bank is making a killing on interest.

Well, first part of January we get an email that they'll be a little late with the rent, but they'll have the money by the end of the month. So, we take them at their word, and when the end of the month comes, we deposit the check. After all, they gave us their word it would be fine. Then, last night, Ann's at Wal-Mart buying air filters for our heater, and her debit card gets declined. Why? The rent check bounced. Problem is, we don't exactly have an extra $425 (half the rent, they paid the other half with a money order) to cover the check. Or our bank's returned item fee. So, since we needed the air filters (we figured out they were our heater problem), Ann put them on our credit card. Which is something we have been trying very hard not to do with anything!!! Then, our electric bill ACH paid today, which caused us an overdraft. Our overdraft protection goes through our savings account first (which we don't have any of because, well, you have to make more money than you have bills, which we haven't for the past 5 years), and then cash advances our credit card to cover the ACH. Now, we're trying not to put anything else on the credit card, but especially don't want/need to pay cash advance fees and cash advance interest. That's not going to get us out of debt. So we're short $435 as of now, and very irritated. If we hadn't had the overdraft coverage, our electric bill would have bounced, resulting in some darkness and us owing fees to the electric company. If we had KNOWN that the rent check would bounce, we'd have directly paid the electric bill with the credit card or something.

All that to say these things: 1.) Pay your bills. Especially when you owe an individual. Don't assume they can just absorb. [side note: both of the adults in this family are working, and working the same jobs and pay rates as the last 18 months. This is not about people in crisis. this is a budget/planning queston] 2.) if you can't pay your bills, let the people you owe money know that! And be honest with when you'll be able to pay. 3.) God is still in control. It's frustrating to us, but we are going to commit to honor God with our finances, be as good of stewards as we can be, and trust Him with the rest. Does this mean we won't expect them to pay us? No, we expect it. And we expect that we'll have to make some adjustments to how they pay the rent to make sure this doesn't happen again. But they will not take food off our table, nor will they cause us to be unfaithful to our commitments. I'm not sure how we will do that, but God knows.

And we will trust Him.

Linked over to someone else's blog

Most of you who read my blog probably don't know who Wade Burleson is. Pastor Burleson is, well, a Southern Baptist Pastor in Oklahoma. Most of his blogging is related to issues in the SBC. While I don't hit him up every day, I occasionally look in to see what's happening in larger SBC issues.

Anyway, today he's got a good post that's not specific on point, but is more of a great illustration, and I'll let you draw some conclusions about how it should apply to you:

Some Wisdom from the United States Air Force

A C-130 United States Airforce jet was lumbering along when a cocky F-16 fighter pilot flashed by in his half billion dollar jet. The jet jockey decided to show off.



The fighter jock told the C-130 pilot, 'Watch this!' and promptly went into a barrel roll followed by a steep climb. He then finished with a sonic boom as he broke the sound barrier. The F-16 pilot asked the C-130 pilot, "What do you think of that?"

The C-130 pilot said, 'That was impressive, but watch this!'



The C-130 droned along for about 5 minutes and then the C-130 pilot came back on and said: 'What did you think of that?'

Puzzled, the F-16 pilot asked, 'What the heck did you do?'

The C-130 pilot chuckled. 'I stood up, stretched my legs, walked to the back, went to the bathroom, then got a cup of coffee and a cinnamon bun.'

Moral of the story: When you are young and foolish it is speed and flash that seems a good thing. But the older and wiser you become, the more you realize that comfort and slow is not such a bad thing after all.

Think about it.

Note from Doug: I've seen this story elsewhere, but the C-130 pilot's response is: I shut down an engine. If you don't realize that F-16s have 1 engine, while the beautiful C-130 has 4, you don't get that one. And I have a special spot for C-130s. I grew with these aircraft, my dad is a C-130 Command Master Navigator. Sure, pilots turn the wheels, but they can't find the ground without a nav!!

Additional note: Not sure what's up on Pastor Burleson's blog. I have the post from his RSS feed, but it's not showing on his blog. I know that he has a very high truth standard, and he may have taken the story off until he can source it. It's probably that this story is an urban legend in the Air Force, but knowing pilots and that there is a disrespect of fast-movers for trash-haulers, it wouldn't surprise me if this has happened.

Why the stimulus is full of bad math

First of all, she's said it twice. I can't find the link to embed the second one, but here Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi states that every month '500 million Americans lose their jobs.'

Except that there are only around 305 Million Americans. And given that the estimate is 73.7 million children, that leaves, roughly 230 million adults. Which means all of us have to be working, and then losing our jobs, twice a month.

Or maybe, since she's off by a factor of 100, we should reduce the stimulus? If the plan is that $800 billion will save 500 Million jobs a month, couldn't we save 500,000 jobs a month for $8 billion?

These are the people that want to save us?

Here's the video: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Answer the poll question!

It would really help me if everyone would go to www.calvarymonticello.com and answer the poll question. It's quick, easy and anonymous, so you won't get picked on for your answers!!!

Ok, maybe not everyone---but everyone involved in church around here. If you're not around here, hold off and answer that next week!

Thanks

Bro. Doug

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Quick Question

What happens if the economy begins to sort itself out in the next 3 months? Will the politicians kill it again just so they can save it?



Or is this like the guy in Jacksonville back in my high school days who was shooting out car windows with a BB gun? Turned out he owned one of the glass places in town. It was his 'economic stimulus' plan for himself and even his competition. Do we have people tearing up things just so someone can look good saving it?

And why are we insisting corporations stop buying jets? What about the 2700 layoffs announced today by a company that makes corporate jets? It's not like these people are crack dealers. I don't mind putting crack dealers out of work, but normal Americans?

And why does the President get to keep the Oval Office hot enough to grow orchids or make people sweat, and still tell us that we have to 'sacrifice' for the environment or to save money? Did Al Gore come to Global warming conclusion while at President Obama's house in Chicago? Honestly, how hot was it there? Or was it cooler, since he had to pay the bill?

Okay, it's lots of questions.

Here's some more: Do Republicans actually stand for anything? Because it's starting to seem like all the GOP is an 'against' party. Where are some actual alternate solutions from these folks?

Why do we need 1 $900 billion stimulus package? Why can't we make 9 $100 billion ones? So that what's in each one can be seen and reviewed? Oh wait, asked and answered....

Too many blogs....

Ok, I've got too many blog projects. So, everything is going back to one:

bubbatherevthoughts.blogspot.com

See you there....
Moving toward the Horizon,
Doug

July 5 Service Recap

Good morning! Here are the service recaps from last week. First we’ll see the morning services, both the 9 AM and the 11 AM, then there will...