Monday, April 30, 2007

Helping Others

I just spent 4 days in the Gentilly area of New Orleans. The levees along the canals off Lake Ponchartrain failed in the hours after Katrina’s landfall flooding, among other areas, Gentilly.

I am compelled to be a Southern Baptist Christian because of my beliefs regarding the security of the believer, believer’s baptism, the priesthood of the believer, and other theological doctrines.

I am pleased to be a Southern Baptist Christian because of the Cooperative Program, the outstanding seminaries within the convention, the swift response to natural disasters worldwide, and other practical applications of scriptural truths.

Arkansas Baptists were waiting “at the water’s edge” to enter New Orleans after Katrina hit. Feeding units staged at Kenner First Baptist Church made use of hundreds of volunteers preparing thousands of meals each day. Remember all the meals served by the Red Cross? They were prepared by Arkansas Baptists. Chainsaw crews comprised of Arkansas Baptists helped clear the mess from the streets and yards of New Orleans. A member of Cross Road Baptist Church who drives a school bus drove to New Orleans to pick up a load of evacuees and transported them to Camp Paron in Arkansas. Churches across the state (and other states, too) collected, packaged, and sent personal hygiene products, bottled water, and snacks to the people who had lost everything.

The North American Mission Board’s Operation NOAH is a city-wide disaster relief effort aimed at helping homeowners and churches rebuild. Arkansas is assigned the Gentilly area. A team of 6 from Cross Road Baptist Church spent last week working on this project.

Jerry Queen’s home sat under water in the early days of September 2005. Last week, we completed hanging new sheetrock in her home. She was so happy because she now actually could see the rooms again. She has a long way to go before moving in but she’s well on her way. That’s one reason I love being a Southern Baptist Christian.

Odell did most of the work on his home himself. His employer has allowed him all the time off from work he needs to complete his house with the promise that his job awaits him when he is ready to return. He lacked only setting the plumbing fixtures and having Entergy connect the electricity. We completed the plumbing fixtures. When we flushed the toilet to test the connections, Odell came running (and smiling) from the other end of the house saying, “Is that water I hear? My wife will be so happy!” That’s one reason I love being a Southern Baptist Christian.

We completed the sheetrock installation in another home but did not meet the homeowner. Another worker (hired, I suppose) was in the house mudding the sheetrock. He heard us singing while we worked and told us as we left that he liked our singing. That’s one reason I love being a Southern Baptist Christian.

Mable Taylor is an octogenarian. Her daughter drove by the house to make sure the house and building material were safe when she saw us working…to her surprise and joy. The daughter brought Mrs. Taylor later in the afternoon. As we were working to install insulation in the exterior walls and sheetrock to the ceilings and walls, Mrs. Taylor bounced into the room with her hands waving in the air, singing, “I’m Mable Taylor and I’m glad to meet you.” Her excitement was more fresh than the bowl of fruit she brought us. That’s one reason I love being a Southern Baptist Christian.

Jerry Queen said she would see us again in Heaven, if not before. Odell gave good answers to our questions about his salvation but I will still pray for his personal relationship with Jesus. Mable Taylor affirmed her salvation with words, as if her attitude weren’t enough. That’s one reason I love being a Southern Baptist Christian.

God uses all of us without regard to denomination or church affiliation. I’m not so narrow minded that I believe Southern Baptists are the only ones who have salvation figured out or are useful instruments in the Master’s hands. But I sure do love being a Southern Baptist Christian.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Sufficient Grace

My sister and brother-in-law set out during Spring Break to travel Route 66.  They, along with their two daughters and a dog, left with very little on the agenda: no specific places to go and no hotel reservations.  The plan was to simply go and do until they had spent all but what was necessary to get home – in other words, until they were broke!

After five or six days on the road my youngest niece called her grandmother and said, “We’re headed home; we’re broke!”

Have you ever been broke?  Initially, we think of being broke as a financial situation.  I’ve been there.  Those were hard times when valuable lessons were learned.  Those were times when I was burdened with the weight of not being able to provide for my family like I wanted.  Those were times when I felt very inadequate.

“Broke” can also describe your relationships.  Maybe a high school sweetheart broke your heart or an adult relationship fell apart.  Times like these often spin a person into despair.  If it happened to you, did you feel hopeless?  This is often the case.

The loss of a job breaks our hearts.  The loss of a dear friend or loved one hurts.  An arrest or conviction or jail time (your own or a loved one’s) leaves you broken.  The doctor’s words bring so much pain yet have a numbing affect at the same time.

For me, I rarely experience one “breaking” thing at a time; it seems like they come in pairs or even in waves.

The apostle Paul might calls these things “a thorn in my flesh.”  This great man of God experienced it, too.  The burden is so heavy it seems unbearable.  When Paul pled with the Lord to remove the burden, Jesus simply replied, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

It is often said that grace is not getting what you deserve.  Let me clarify the point.  MERCY is not getting what you deserve.  GRACE is getting better than you deserve.

God’s grace is sufficient – enough – best – OK – just what I need.

Sufficient grace is this: when you think you’ve spent all you have and your are broke…you still have enough to get home.


Many years ago a local radio station carried Imus in the Morning.  I listened some.  I’m not sure why.  Kinda like a fly drawn to cow manure, I guess.  Don Imus is very insightful regarding economics and politics.  His roster of guests was impressive.  He’s a Jew (I think) that is willing to embrace “the baby Jesus,” as he says.  But the good content was not the basis for the show.  His sharp, degrading humor seemed to be the canvas upon which he chose to create.  The local station dropped his program due to content issues.  I haven’t kept up with him much since then except to notice the huge amounts of money he raises for medical research.

Hard NOT to keep up with him these days.  But now that both MSNBC and CBS have fired him, unless he goes to satellite radio like Howard Stern, he’ll fade away again.  I’m OK with that but not because of what he said about the Rutgers women’s basketball team.  That was just representative of things he has said over the years.

I don’t think the problem is that his comments were sexist or racist – which they were.  The problem is that they were mean.  God’s principles teach us to respect all people because we are all made in his image.  What Imus said contradicted that principle.  By simply focusing on the sexist or racist aspect of the comments is to fail to see the real problem.  It’s not just Imus’ problem though – our culture in America no longer cares about God.

The two leading the charge against Don Imus can’t focus on the real issue – lack of respect for God and his creation – because they would then have to treat Don Imus differently.  By focusing on the sexist and racist aspect of the comments, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson can also disregard God and his creation.  God’s authority in how people treat one another is not considered by the main players in this saga.

I wonder what God thinks about all this.  Is it possible that God is concerned not about female people or black people but just simply people?  If that is the case, then Imus, Sharpton, Jackson, et al should think before they speak.

So who wins in the firing of Don Imus?  American culture that disregards God wins because another issue has been settled without considering the real issue: God’s authority over all people and all things.

And America loses.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

One Week In

The baseball season is very young.  No team has completed two cycles through their starting pitching rotations.  Cincinnati is atop the National League Central standings in a tie with Pittsburgh at 4-3.  Surely one team will create separation; but for the moment, the six teams in the NL Central are packed in between records of 4-3 & 3-5.  If the Reds hope to reach the post-season they need to have a good start.  Typically, they start fast they taper off through the summer.  They are on pace to win 92 games which might be good enough.  The problem with the NL Central is that only one team goes to the playoffs – rarely is the NL wildcard from this division.

Most gurus expect St. Louis and Chicago to have good seasons.  Both teams have started slowly.  But the season is just a week old.

I love baseball.

Sunday, April 01, 2007


God is so good.

1.       My family is wonderful.

2.       My church is plugged in.

3.       My job is satisfying.

4.       My health is improving.

5.       My finances are in good shape.

6.       My heart aches for lost people.

7.       My God is good.