Thursday, December 31, 2009

Proverbs 31 by Doug

Proverbs 31:1 (NRSV) –>Taught by his mother.  Be extraordinarily careful not to disregard real wisdom simply because you think everything has to come from a man.

 

Proverbs 31:3-4 (NRSV) –>Not for kings to drink or chase women…can you imagine what she would say to Congress?

 

Proverbs 31:6-7 (NRSV) –>This is not to suggest a government program to hand out liquor to the poor.  Just to point out that for the king, he has no reason to forget, so no reason to drink.

 

Proverbs 31:8 (NRSV) –>This is one of the primary Biblical justifications for political action, especially on behalf of the unborn. 

 

Proverbs 31:10 (NRSV) –>Some Biblical scholars draw a line between verse 9 and verse 10, and say this starts a separate segment after the oracle of King Lemuel’s Mother.  Why?  Who better to tell a man what kind of wife to seek than a wise mom?

 

Proverbs 31:27 (NRSV) –>There is a point of needed rest.  Then, there’s a point of idleness.  Where are you?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I wish to be left alone!

I wish to be left alone!


Somehow, we went through the Christmas season and watched 1 Christmas movie. That's it, just one! It The Muppet Christmas Carol , which, I must admit, is still my favorite interpretation of that story. While there are liberties taken from the original, such as making Scrooge partners with the Marley Brothers, rather than just Jacob, they don't disrupt the storyline. The change is simply to allow the use of Statler and Waldorf as Marley, which seems almost what Henson created them for years ago.


However, thinking about Scrooge, I think about his remark the gentlemen that are raising funds for the poor and destitute at Christmas. Scrooge expresses that he wishes “ to be left alone” when asked to help. Audiences and readers have long cringed at his retort, and it exposes his heartlessness.


Yet how often do we respond in this manner in our own hearts? We won't openly scoff that we wish to be left alone, but even the basics of human compassion are often too much effort. Why?


Because, in truth, it's hard. It is so much easier to hunker down into our little protective zones and disconnect.


I know that I have to be more willing to express compassion and build those efforts into meaningful work in the lives of others. Will I be successful? Likely I'll waffle on this, back and forth between being open, too open, too closed, and then back to some balance.


It's worth working on, though...


Doug


Proverbs 30 by Doug

 

Proverbs 30:1 (NRSV) –>"How can I prevail?” is how the NRSV translates the last phrase here.  I can feel that pain.  How do we prevail? I think that Agur was tired, stressed out, and probably burned out.  He was striving to do right, but couldn’t get anyone to go with him.  How could he prevail? Look on down to verse 5:

 

Proverbs 30:5 (NRSV) –>”Every word of God” is how we prevail. It’s not by our strength or by our own wisdom, but by the power of God.  And when we are too weary to keep trying, take refuge in Him.

 

Proverbs 30:6 (NRSV) –>Adding to anyone’s words is a recipe for a quick rebuke.  How much more to add to God’s!  Yet we see it happen frequently, whether it be by adding more laws or saying God has changed His mind about something.  We must be very careful.  By the way, if it’s your opinion, say so! Be prepared to explain it.  Even if it’s just your intuition or gut feeling.  But don’t attribute it to God!

 

Proverbs 30:8-9 (NRSV) –>I’ll pray half of this, but the half about not being full or rich is tough.  Really tough.

 

Proverbs 30:14 (NRSV) –>How did “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me!” become a saying when there is abundant evidence and Scripture to show otherwise?  Words can hurt me.  Much of the pain from sticks we can recover from.

 

Proverbs 30:33 (NRSV) –>Need proof the Bible is true?  Press fresh milk and see if you get curds.  Need more proof?  Press your nose.  Hard.  Get blood?  Maybe there is some truth here.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Testing Things Out

Testing things out….

I’ve got a new piece of software to do blog posts, so this is just a test to see how it works.  I’m currently in the middle of trying to take this week and plan out my preaching for most of the coming year.  It’s something I’ve heard other preachers talk about doing, and I always thought they were crazy.  Why?
I.  Who has the time to take a week off?  But, in reality, the biggest part of my responsibility is to know what I’m doing when I stand up to teach.  So, taking a week to make sure I’m organized in that regard for a year isn’t such a bad plan, is it? 
II.  Who sticks with a plan for that long?  Well, first of all, I’m not going to be legalistic about the plan, but it really makes more sense to be prepared.  It’s much better to adjust a plan than to have to make it up as you go.
III.  Who can focus on it?  Well, this week hasn’t been as easy as I had hoped.  A lot of preachers that do this go off into the woods or out of town for the week.  I’m just trying to use the church while the office is supposed to be closed.  Of course, there are still distractions and such, but I’m tucked away from the phone.  Naturally, there are people that think I’m not working, but I am, in fact, buried in Matthew.
What does this have to do with trying new things?  I’m still trying out and learning how to do this thing called “pastor” that I am.  It’s not exactly as I pictured, and it takes some learning and getting used to.  So, be patient with me.  Be patient with yourself, too.  You’re probably not always at your best.
We must strive to get there, though.  Inadequacy is a normal feeling, but inaction is not the response.  Action to learn, action to grow, these are the responses we need.

Doug

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Derailed by Tim Irwin

Book Review---Derailed by Tim Irwin, Ph.D.

Ok, so this isn't a book review I'm beholden to do for Thomas Nelson and the Book Review Bloggers Program. Instead, it's a book that Michael Hyatt, the CEO of Thomas Nelson gave away to some of his blog readers recently. (Note that his blog is down for redesign until after Christmas.) So, I did get the book free, but am not expected to do anything but read it.

One of the joys I've had this past year is reading a few more business books than I previously have. Why haven't I read them in the past? Well, it's always bothered me that we seem to readily grab business practices into a church without considering the differences between church and business. Also, like anyone else, I've got a limited budget, and so must choose wisely what books I purchase. Generally, if it's something I'm unsure of, I wait for it to be cheap or until I get a chance to go the library. By then, though, I've either forgotten about it or the message isn't timely.

So, when Michael Hyatt decided to give away a stack of Derailed to his blog readers a few weeks ago, I jumped at the chance. I have spent some time in business, and, though I hope to never go back to corporate work, welcomed the chance to stretch my brain with a little business reading.

Then I hit the subject material. As the name implies, Derailed is about things not going right. Well, I've read a book or two like that before, such as John Maxwell's Failing Forward. So, I thought this would be a book with more recent examples of failures that people used to build into success. I was wrong on that assumption.

This book is about business in the same way The Blind Side is about football. The stories used as examples are found in the business world, but this work is about character. It's about what business reveals about the people that do it.

As such, my typical concern for badly applying business models into Biblical churches is unnecessary here. Instead, the danger is reversed, that churches and church leaders will see these as failings of “business” people that were chasing worldly wealth and so faltered from it.

If that happens, we'll miss valuable lessons about the people involved. We'll risk not seeing how we could improve the relationships which are the backbone of our organizations. We'll risk not seeing how the character of our leaders is what is most significant.

Worse than that, I would have missed it. Derailed is a cautionary work, but not of bad business decisions, but of character shortcomings. Some of the issues raised are a lack of character, others simply that one person's character wasn't right for their situation.

I won't give away the details, but Irwin has provided some warning signs to watch for and corrective actions to take when you see those signs. I'd highly recommend this book for anyone looking to make their way in the business world.

It's also an excellent read for people in the ministry world. Barring a re-release of J.D. Grey's Epitaphs for Eager Preachers, this should be mandatory reading for upcoming ministers to remind us of how important who we are is.

Doug

Oh yeah...to make it easy, if you want to check this book out on Amazon, I put in a link to it.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Thermostats...

Expectations and results....

December 9 2009

Doug


One of the things that I do, in fact the main thing I do, is that I pastor a small Baptist church in Southeast Arkansas. Part of our weekly schedule is a prayer hour on Tuesday nights at 8. To get ready for that time yesterday, I went over and tinkered with a few thermostats before I went home.


When I got back at 8, it was colder in the building than outside. This isn't unusual, since the weather here in Monticello was a little strange yesterday, with lots of cold, then rain, then warm, and I thought the building just never warmed up. I had only set the thermostats to about 64, because it's a small group that meets, and those that come know to dress warmly!


Well, this morning I went over to make sure all of the thermostats were set for church tonight. I then noticed something that I missed last night. I had set all of temperatures to 64. Unfortunately, I had also turned one of the major units to “Cool” instead of heat. All that time, the unit had been trying to chill a room rather than warm it.


Fortunately for the electric bill, when the outside is in the 40s, it's not hard to chill a metal building into the 60s, but there's a lesson here. It's a lesson about efforts, expectations, and results. What do I mean?


Well, if we want to have results, we have to make sure our efforts are going in the right direction, and that our expectations are set to a logical level. How?


  1. Sometimes our efforts are like the heat/air units yesterday: 3 separate units had the goal of a temperature of 64 degrees. 2 were trying to heat to it; 1 to cool to it. At times, they were working against each other. You can almost imagine the inner monologues: “It's getting warm again! I just cooled it off. Who's messing with my work?” “Just as soon as I get it warm some nut starts chilling it again. This isn't fair!” (Fortunately, inanimate objects don't think. I can't fathom that people would do that, can you? Well, maybe a little.)

  2. The method of reaching a goal is more important than we realize. It was my expectation that 64 would be warm enough. It would have been, had there not been cold air blowing in to keep it at that temperature. The result was right, but the method used caused it to not meet expectations.

  3. Do we watch the details? This was a mistake of about a half-inch on a switch. Little slips make bigger issues if we're not careful!

  4. For those of us who lead others: are we careful to communicate the expected methods as well as results? This was my mistake, and is often a critical point for me in working with others. It's not just where you end up, but how you get there. I communicated I wanted a temperature. I didn't communicate that I wanted it warm.



It's often frustrating because I think I'm doing the best I can, but what I want to see happen isn't happening. I need to examine how often it's because the efforts are wasted because of a minor setting....


Doug


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Romans 2:6--Doug's Tuesday Thought

Romans 2:6
Doug's Tuesday Thought
December 8, 2009

I'm reading through the book of Romans, and I've gotten all the way to chapter 2 so far. It's only taken about 2 months to get through chapter 1, though I haven't commented on it very much. I've got the notes in my journal, and hope to someday get them all transcribed.

Today, though, I wanted to comment on Romans 2:6, where Paul points out that God will judge all people according to their deeds. Verses 7 and 8 tell us that those with evil deeds will get wrath, and those with good deeds will receive blessing. Sounds great, right?

This is theology that most of us would like to stop with. The good get rewarded, the bad get punished. Hurrah! Because I'm good, right?

Well, not so much---you've got to read on into the letter. Paul points out that we're all sinners. We're all bad. None of us get to qualify for Romans 2:8, we're all stuck with Romans 2:7.

What separates from that wrath? What allows us to see Romans 2:8 as more than a mocking “you'll never get this!”?

Christmas does. It's not about a baby or a star or shepherds or wise men...it's about the Grace of God. About His goodness being more than enough for us. Christmas isn't about the naughty/nice list. It's about the list not mattering anymore, because God overwrote with the glory of Christ.

Doug

December 8 by Doug

Reflections on Proverbs

December 8 2009

by Doug





Proverbs 8:9 (NRSV) →True wisdom is completely pure before God, not devious at all.





Proverbs 8:10 (NRSV) →Instead of---not first, not to get riches, but instead of the riches. We should pursue wisdom rather than wealth, and be satisfied to live with the wisdom.





Proverbs 8:22-31 (NRSV) →Here is your grand unified theory of everything: behind the strings, chaos, and quantums, behind the quarks and photons, behind relativity and gravity, is the Wisdom of God.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Christmas giving suggestions 2009

Christmas Giving Suggestions for 2009

by Doug


Last year I posted some suggested thoughts for places that could use a little extra help at Christmas time. In that same vein, I'd like to post some suggestions for this year.


Why? Well, truth be told, we as Americans have a bit of a conundrum. We have a lot of people that our culture seems to expect us to give gifts to, but most of them don't really need anything. Seriously, your children's school teachers appreciate the thought, but how many “#1 Teacher” ornaments do they need? And are you getting stressed out about what to give your 2 nd cousin twice removed that you don't even like? I'm not against giving sincere gifts from the heart, but I don't care for giving that's driven by guilt. So, a few suggestions:


#1: For the people that absolutely need to have something given to them (you know, spouses and such):


Check out:

World Crafts Village: Small businesses that help lift people from poverty, especially in regions of the world that Christians are placed into economic turmoil. A project partially driven by the WMU.


Abba Java: For the Coffee lover in your life! While I like the brand of coffee I usually drink, this company purchases coffee from local growers in Africa, and the profits sustain orphan care. Does it get better than that? Not much, no.


Trade as One: There's a lot of back-and-forth about trade and economics. This isn't the place for that debate, but this I know: we Americans have more wealth than most people in the world. Trade as One is a great place to purchase gifts that support local economies around the world, helping lift people out of poverty. The kind of poverty that prevents people from eating for days or having clean water. Not the kind that requires them to eat off-brand or wear the same clothes twice.


ROWArt: Rivers of the World is an evangelistic Christian missions group, and ROWART is a website where they sell donated artwork and also locally produced items by the people groups that they are working in. The trade allows them freer interaction with the people, the funds keep the missions running, and you get something that few other people have got. How can you lose? I like ROW. I've never bought from ROWArt, but ROW is a group Ann and I have supported.


#2: For the people that don't need anything but a card and to know they're a part of making a difference in the world: (make sure the card expresses genuine thanks to them and the specific project you are helping!): Note: I am linking to the front page of these groups so you can read more about them. They should all have clearly marked “Give” or “Donate” links on the front page if you like what you see.


Rivers of the World: A missions organization that works with whatever people they can find up whatever remote rivers they can get a boat up. Their work at Monkey Point, Nicaragua, last year resulted in the Iranian Army leaving the area. Ben Mathes is a hoot at that.


Wycliffe Bible Translators: Near and dear to our hearts, the mission of Wycliffe is to put the Bible in the native language of people that don't have it. Some of our dearest friends, the Choates, do this. Consider helping Wycliffe in general or their Last Languages emphasis. Wycliffe wants to be out of business in 2025 due to completing their task. Let's help them get there.


Living Water International: Did you know there is, actually, enough water for everyone to have clean, healthy water? It's more about access than supply. And millions die every year because their water is diseased. Let's fix it. Before we buy another bottle of Dasani or Aquafina.


The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering: Really, what kind of Southern Baptist would I be if I didn't bring this up? Contact your local Southern Baptist Church and give to help spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The angels showed up at Christmas to tell. Let's keep telling.


Local children's charities: I like the Arkansas Baptist Children's Homes. You may prefer someone local to you. Or perhaps a Crisis Pregnancy Center like Hope Place in Monticello, Arkansas. Pick one. Help kids. Help women in crisis through a women's shelter.


Contact your local fire department, police department, or National Guard Armory to see what you can do for families of the fallen or deployed.


Make this year about more than just what you get or even what you give your family. Put a true value in the gift. You'll be glad you did. They'll be glad you did. Seriously, the PS3 or the Wii will just be obsolete in a year.



Merry Christmas!


Doug


Proverbs 7 by Doug for December

Reflections on Proverbs

December 7 2009


Proverbs 7:1 (NRSV) →It's really not enough to know where to find knowledge and wisdom. You need to commit it to memory, to carry it in your mind and heart. There is no substitute for that, as sometimes you cannot look it up.


Proverbs 7:4-5 (NRSV) →A trustworthy, intimate sister. The kind that warns you about the girls that can't be trusted. This is wisdom...because the deceptive danger is hard to separate.


Proverbs 7:7 (NRSV) →Look at the parallelism. Without engaging in parallelomania (with apologies to both D.A. Carson and Samuel Sandmel, where Carson got the term), there is a fairly clear parallelism here showing youth and simplicity as essentially the same. The young are simple. It's not a fault, but a reality. Are we providing them the path to wisdom in God or are we leaving them to be simple later?


Proverbs 7:10 (NRSV) →She's not a prostitute, but she's dressed as one....there are times and ways that we should distinctly avoid certain fashions and choices because they are blatant marks of sinful behavior. In Jordan, for example, when my wife was growing up, having multiple earrings was the mark of a woman with loose morals. Why pick the fight and say you can have multiple earrings and not be loose? Would it not be better to hold back? Not that this sign applies in America, but we have other indicators. There are certain fashions that communicate desires and intentions...why bother with them? Why not stay away from displaying things that show blatant materialism?


Because we don't want to follow wisdom. That's why, and it's killing us.



Doug


Friday, December 4, 2009

Book Review---Living with Confidence

Book Review: Living with Confidence in a Chaotic Worldby Dr. David Jeremiah



A frequent refrain among Christian believers is that “We've read the end of the book, it's all going to be okay!” While that is often a comforting thought, it's not always a practical one. Sure, then end of the book sounds great, but have you read the 20 chapters before that? There's going to be a lot of chaos before we get to that end.


This book is aimed at dealing with that chaos, and how we as Christians hang on through it. There are some basic ideas presented differently than other places, but this isn't exactly new ground Dr. Jeremiah is plowing here. Which isn't to say it's a bad book, nor that he should be plowing new ground. As the world does grow more chaotic, a reminder of solid roots and basic foundations is more valuable, at least in my mind, than untested innovation. It's well organized and structured to be an easy read. Also, the chapter organization also lends itself to referring back to specific points.


Is this book worth your time? If you don't read many books on the practical implications of theology and prophecy, it's worth your time. If you listen to David Jeremiah on the radio and want what he says in print so you can look back at it, it's a good buy. If you read lots of other books by conservative Bible preachers about this subject, this one might be a little repetitive.


This book is published by Thomas Nelson Publishers.




Disclaimer: In all fairness to the world at large, as the FCC is charged with defending, I read Living with Confidence in a Chaotic World simply because the Thomas Nelson Book Review Bloggers program gave me a free copy of the book. And, given the enormous following of blog readers I have, they wisely chose not to provide me any additional compensation other than the free book, which will eventually be given to someone I encounter in ministry that I think the book will help. If you would like to be shamelessly corrupted by the free books being given away with no other compensation by the Thomas Nelson Book Review Bloggers program, check this link: http://brb.thomasnelson.com. Otherwise, you should stay away from that webpage, and just go to http://www.amazon.com and buy your own books. I do not get any compensation from Amazon for the referral. I should. Maybe a few months free on my Prime Membership? How about it Mr. Bezos? I'll even write a review of the service for it...


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Pictures....and thumb drives

Taking up space....

December 3


Since shortly before Olivia was born, Ann and I have been the proud owners of a digital camera. Our first was an Olympus D-something, which we greatly enjoyed. It was a 1.3 mexapixel point and shoot, and used a 32 MB smart media card. I think we could get around 200 pictures on it.


Then we got our second one, also an Olympus, supposed to be slightly better than the one we had. I don't remember the resolution, just the battery hungry ways. I don't know how many pictures you could put on it, because the batteries only held out for about 5!


Now we use a Kodak Easyshare, with rechargeable batteries, and a 1 GB SD card. This one will hold about 600 pictures or so.


Moving on, Ann loves taking pictures of the kids, and I love the fact that digital photos don't take as much space to store. Neither are they heavy to move.


However, organization is one of our concerns for the veritable cornucopia of pictures we have. Back-up in case of computer failure is another concern. So, what solution did we seek?


I bought Ann 4 Kingston thumb drives: 3 4GB drives, one for each child, and an 8GB for other pictures. That way, she can organize onto those drives, and we can store them in the fire-proof file box we have in the closet.


So, I'm looking at the files, and I've realize something. I think our picture files are small, because I haven't really paid much attention since that first camera. Guess what?


We already have 18 GB worth of pictures. Steven's alone are 5 GB. Olivia has the smallest file, though she has the most pictures, because many of hers are from the older camera.


Why the difference? The files are bigger. Now, technically, the resolution is greater, so the pictures are higher quality, but that makes them get bigger. Bigger takes more space, even in the digital world.


It starts me thinking about the things we carry around in life. Our actions are, in a way, like taking pictures. What we choose to do is a snapshot of what matters to us at that moment, and our memories carry around those effects.


What becomes the challenge for us is that, like the picture files on our computer, as we grow and mature, our actions store with a higher resolution. There's more detail, more connection. More lasting impact. And they take up more space, require more effort to deal with.


It's not guaranteed to be a bad thing, but it could be, if we're not mindful of our actions. Are you considering what you choose each day? The longer you go, the more impact those decisions bear on you.


Doug


Ladies' Christmas Fellowship

 

You’re Invited To

A Ladies Christmas Fellowship

Saturday, December 5 th

6 pm

In the Fellowship Hall

 

Please make plans to attend; we always have a fun time together.

 

We will have potluck finger foods followed by a devotion. We will then be making 3 lady’s gift baskets that the children will be delivering on December 16 th. Please bring an item to put in one of the baskets (ex. Lotion, notepad, pen candle, ornament….). Us your imagination!

 

Secret sisters may exchange gifts at this time in they wish.

 

Ask Karen or Gail if you have any questions.

 

Hope to see you there!



Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Forgiveness and Privacy

On forgiveness and confession and privacy

December 2 2009


Okay, so no one is screaming for my opinion on the current mess Tiger Woods is in over his personal life. However, the joy of blogging is that you get to give your opinion on stuff whether or not people are asking for it.


So, what about Tiger?


He, apparently, screwed up in his personal life. Yes, indeed, a sports star once again proves insufficient for a hero about how to actually live life.


You know what? Tiger Woods isn't paid to be a personal role model. He's paid to play golf and sell stuff that people will buy because an awesome golfer tells them to buy. That's it. For the most part, his personal life really isn't our business.


However, it's come out in public, and how has he handled it? Well, first he tried to hide. Then he tried to deflect. And now he has come out, given a guarded admission that he did do some things he shouldn't have, and asked for privacy to work it out with his family. Remarkably, the text of his latest statement, as read by ESPN from his website, even referred to his actions as sins! That's a better confession than you'll ever get from a politician.


And that should be enough for us. Think about it. Your life isn't completely private either, but how much do you want your sins publicly dissected? What, you think you have a right to privacy? But you live out in the open, you expect certain public reactions, even if just in your own small town life. So, you are a public figure, even if not a national one. So, extend the man the same courtesy. Extend others the same courtesy.


Allow, and in church, expect public sin to carry public repentance, but don't demand all the sordid details. You don't need them. If someone has sinned against you, you know the details, they know the details, and God knows the details. If they haven't sinned against you, then that they have sought forgiveness from those they have sinned against and from God ought to be enough for you. That they will admit to needing it is enough for us to restore people to fellowship.


As for Tiger---I hope that he and his wife find peace with each other and with God. For the other people involved, a prayer that they can find better satisfaction in life than secret affairs that really bear no relationship to love.


And for us, as a nation, how about a fixation on things that matter instead? How about husbands, fathers, preachers, and deacons being the male role models for our children? You know, people that live the same type of ordinary life that most of our children will go on to live?


Crazy thought, huh?


Doug


Service Recap for September 27

Good evening! Here are the service replay links for Sunday, September 27th for those who are interested! Sunday Morning Videos: Sunday night...