1. Implement the “Love Dare”
2. Teach Riley to ride his bicycle
3. Add to Deana’s bracelet
4. Spend more time doing photography
5. Complete three seminars and one workshop in DMin work
6. Take a day off each week
7. Make ten personal visits each week
8. Lose 100 pounds
9. Start a quarterly planned preaching method
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
1. Implement the “Love Dare”
Monday, December 29, 2008
Sandra Kirk with Fox 16 News in Little Rock just reported that bars in the River Market in Little Rock (and other areas of central Arkansas) are paying Yellow Cab to take drunks home on New Year’s Eve.
Matt Hogue, the general manager of the Flying Saucer, said this is a cheap way to get people home safe. Apparently, he doesn’t intend to get them home sober, though. He also said it was less liability for the bars. Did you hear that? He wants the people to come into his bar, get wasted, then get home safely so he won’t be held responsible.
David Wages with Yellow Cab explained that the ride is free to the drunk, up to $25, but only from participating establishments. With a grin he said that the “patron” gets a safe ride home plus when they wake up in the morning they know where their car is. How do they know? Because the bar put the “patron’s” keys in an envelope and the driver gives it to him when he takes him home. How do they plan to explain the tattoo or the STD or the empty wallet?
Kirk reported that bartenders said they had to wait for cabs last year because so many people were using this service. Anchor Kevin Kelly said it was great that the program is available year-round so people can “take advantage” of it.
What happened to the biblical principle of not being controlled by anything other than the Holy Spirit? What happened to the biblical principle of looking out for others? What has happened to decency?
Saturday, December 27, 2008
That was fast! As I get older the Christmas schedule gets more cluttered and each stop shorter and shorter. Zig Zigler says “love” is spelled “T-I-M-E.” Seems like we’ve lost that. Now it’s time to put away the decorations and take down the two strands of outside lights. The garbage can is stuffed and so am I.
But think about the reason for Christmas. It marks the birth of Jesus; the coming of the Messiah. Before his birth the world was locked in a period of God’s silence. But, from the world’s perspective, things really started to pick up after that first Christmas. Now there was hope and the promise of eternal life.
The winter solstice was just a few days ago, and although we face several weeks of cold and gray days (days I really like, by the way), we know that Spring and new life are on the way. Each day is getting longer and more daylight fills each day. Everything – nature, spiritual realities – is picking up after Christmas.
The first Christmas was the end of nine months of pregnancy for Mary and Joseph. But as any parents know, the birth of their child does not mark the end but the beginning. Seems that now days Christmas marks the end of a holiday season when it should really remind us of the beginning of hope and joy.
For me, things are really picking up after Christmas.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Today is Day 2 of Riley’s days off from school due to the ice storm. Yesterday was understandable because the roads were pretty bad in some out of the way places and the temperature never broke the freezing mark. But today? I don’t get it.
We spoke with a teacher from the district yesterday – in Wal-Mart, the roads weren’t that bad! She said that Friday was the end of the semester and she is trying to get to the end of a teaching unit so they don’t have to carry it over through the Christmas break. She also said that the higher grades were trying to get in their semester tests. Needless to say, one day off (much less, two) is an inconvenience.
Life isn’t always about what is convenient, though. How we react to inconveniences really says a lot about what is within us. Peace and patience should rule the day; but when agitation and complaining characterize our response, we have an inner problem. When Paul said he could do anything through Christ who gave him strength, he was talking about facing the inconveniences or difficulties in life. He knew he could handle it because of Christ within him, not because of any other inner source of strength.
So the ice may cause some inconveniences in your normal routine. That’s OK, you can handle it. Today is a good opportunity to practice the right attitude.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
“Nothing says ‘Happy Holidays’ like the smell of turkey coming from the oven.” That’s what she read in the cookbook. “She” is the lady in the movie who is trying to cook Christmas dinner for the first time.
I’m thinking that “Merry Christmas” or “Jesus Loves You” might be better than the smell of a turkey. Seems like we’ve lost track of what is really important. Don’t get me wrong, I love turkey and dressing. I enjoy the holiday food as much as anyone. But can’t we at least give credit where credit is due? Christmas is the celebration of Jesus’ birth. Life is empty, without direction, and hopeless without Jesus.
Leave off the turkey and what do you get? Chicken, pork, beef. Perhaps just a vegetable plate. But you still can have a holiday meal. Leave off Jesus and what do you get? Everlasting punishment separated from God in a place of eternal suffering called hell.
Nothing says “Happy Holidays” like John 3:16. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Did you hear what Bill Clinton said while he was in Arkansas earlier this week? He said Obama was going to win the election and Arkansans better vote for Obama if we didn’t want to be left out. I wonder, “Left out of what?”
One possible answer is that Arkansas would be left out of the list of states that elect Obama, if he wins. With the current electoral college system used to elect presidents, Arkansas’ EC votes will go to whoever wins the popular vote on November 4. In that regard, if McCain wins Arkansas but Obama wins the election, then we would be left out of the list of Obama states.
Another possible answer, and I think this is the right answer, is that Arkansas would be left out of the preferential treatment a President Obama would give to those who supported him. That is the typical Washington politics that Obama claims he wants to change, but the most powerful Democrat of my lifetime (JFK died 6 months before I was born) clearly implied that a vote for Obama would be rewarded. Just like those perpetually on the welfare rolls are rewarded for a vote for the liberals. Just like the cultural elite are rewarded (by being allowed to continue to produce their Hollywood smut without regulation) for their support. Just like the media are rewarded for hitting Conservatives hard and lobbing softballs to Liberals. Liberals, of which Obama is king, claim to want to help people but in reality only want to empower themselves by exchanging favors for votes.
The “change we need” is a return to Christian values like respect and fairness, goodness and righteousness.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Foxnews.com reports that Barack Obama told a plumber that he doesn’t want to view a tax increase as exactly that but rather as a way to spread the wealth around. That means to take from those who have and give it to those who do not have. I’m all for helping the poor and needy; it’s the Christian thing to do. But the problem is when those receiving the handout don’t really need it or have grown so accustomed to it that they refuse to earn a living any other way. The Bible says that if a many doesn’t work he doesn’t eat. Laziness is condemned in the Bible. Certainly, there are those who are not lazy but cannot work; they need help. But I’m afraid the welfare roll is burdened with people who are lazy and will not work.
Socialism is easily defined: spreading the wealth around. Nobody really succeeds and failure is disguised. In truth, everyone fails when nobody is allowed to succeed.
I believe the conservative economic policy is the best policy. When people are given the freedom to invest and build wealth, everyone benefits. I may never be the tycoon or mogul, probably won’t be. But I have a choice of jobs because of them. I have income from those jobs to provide for my family. I enjoy the innovations they discover. I don’t have to be in the upper tier to enjoy the growth. I don’t have to get the tax incentives to benefit from them. I just have to live in a capitalistic society that allows and fosters financial freedom so that – at the least – I can live comfortably.
Be alert when you hear “innocent” words like “spreading the wealth around.”
Thursday, October 09, 2008
I’ve been working out for a week because the sleep doctor explained how apnea affects so much more than just my sleep. For me, aggressive weight loss should help address many problems. So I’m doing it.
I’ve been lifting weights. I’m told that ten pounds of muscle will burn one pound a week just because it’s there.
I’ve been walking or riding the bike. Aerobics are not as important at this point as losing weight but aerobics will help some and at least I’ll be in the habit.
I’ve been eating less. That’s the hard part. Do you know how easy it is to drive through the fast food restaurant on the way home from the gym?
I haven’t seriously tried to lose weight in about 17 years. I haven’t worked out with weights in 25 years. But I like it. So maybe I’ll stay with it.
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
So much is at stake with your vote on November 4. The choice American’s make will set the stage for drastic changes in the landscape of our country and her politics. These economic times require further conservative principles; abandoning them would keep the United States from rebounding and growing. Cutting taxes and reducing federal spending in tandem will strengthen the US economy by stimulating job creation, boosting consumer confidence, increasing the value of the dollar in world markets, stabilizing the financial markets at home and abroad, and increasing wealth across the board.
We do not need a government bailout. Instead, we need the government to get out and stay out of our pocketbooks so we can purchase and consume and save and invest. Many Americans are capable of managing their own money in regard to health care and retirement. Those who aren’t should be able to opt into a government program providing barebones necessities. But only the barebones, don’t reward them for being irresponsible by giving them top shelf benefits. Regardless of what you heard during the debate last night, health care is NOT a right in the democratic republic that is the United States. Maybe healthcare is a right in socialist/communist countries where poverty and oppression are also “rights” that all citizen can enjoy. But we are talking about America…where our spirit of achievement drives us to be great.
I am disappointed in our highest leaders: the one in office and the two running for office. In chorus, they and others said that the rescue/bailout bill had to been done quickly because the American and world economies hung in the balance. Now, almost a week later, the markets are still unsteady and the noise coming from them is that the recovering will not be quick. I don’t get it: we had to do something quick but it will take months for it to work? We need change.
Conservatives must respond. A few in the Congress have stood firm, but not enough. Those who abandoned or have always rejected conservative fiscal policy should be voted out and replaced with men and women who will minimize the role of the federal government and create an atmosphere of hope and promise that will foster financial recovery and expansion. The resulting rising economy will lift all Americans who are willing to participate. Those who aren’t will have their hands out wanting someone (you and me through direct contribution or taxation) to rescue/bailout them. Almost 80 years of entitlement-focused government has raised generations who believe they are entitled. Some are accused of being born with a silver spoon in their mouths and others demand one of their own. America is better than that.
What we need is a Great Awakening across the fifty states and we need it within the next four weeks. People dedicated to Jesus Christ will establish a society that will foster achievement, excellence, and compassion. The most compassionate act a person can do is to fish for men. And it doesn’t matter who gets the credit as long as more people go to heaven and fewer people go to hell, to quote Emil Turner.
The next is to teach people that fishing for fish is better than begging for fish. A great wave of dedication to Jesus Christ will do that. People will want to help others help themselves. People will want to be financially stable. This will relax the burden on the taxpayers and allow them to invest and create economic momentum.
The alternative is to reject conservative principles and increase the burden on the taxpayers resulting in less investment and economic stagnation or downturn. The economy is a spiral that either builds upon freedom to expand or collapses on restrictions and greed. A combination of restricting freedom and greed brought us to where we are today. Again, turning to Christ will effectively deal with the problem of greed; loving our neighbor will eliminate the perceived need for the government to pull money from the economy.
Even in difficult political and economic times, Jesus is the answer. Which candidate do you think will give us the opportunity to implement biblical principles in American politics?
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
My friend and mentor died of cancer Sunday morning. I’ve not been in contact with David as much as I would have liked in recent years due to his service in Iraq and his motorcycle accident. But his mark is clearly on my life.
David was pastor of Second Baptist Church in Russellville for 21 years. During that time, I stumbled into the church after a divorce had left me suicidal at times and discouraged most of the time. I had issues with my past that I didn’t know how to handle. SBCR embraced me, helped me, put me to use and back on the track to preaching the gospel. If churches really are a reflection of their pastors, then SBCR was a reflection of David McLemore’s heart. I thank God for all of them and for him.
Knowing my past, he encouraged me to pursue my seminary education. He let me serve in leadership. He let me preach from his pulpit. Now that I am a pastor, I understand the significance of that act.
When Deana and I first began noticing each other, David came to me and said, “If anything happens between you two, that’s alright with me.” I had accepted the possibility that I might never have a one-flesh mate but David told me it was OK. He would later marry us. He told us that we had to promise him that if we ever considered divorce we would come talk with him first. We are doing very well in our marriage, but it’s a sobering thought to know the safety net is gone.
My life is different because of David McLemore and SBCR. “Love’s Second Home” is my home until I join David in heaven.
Friday, August 08, 2008
I'm looking out the dining room window watching my dog Sandy play in the front yard. She's scratching a flea. She's rolling in the grass. She's playing with some trash she found in the ditch.
Now, what does this have to do with church membership? Let me explain before you jump to conclusions. To start with, Sandy recognizes that something is wrong and she does what she can to correct it. She has a flea (or something) and it bothers her, so she scrathes and bites at it. Good church members will be sensitive to things in their lives that are wrong and they will do something about it.
Next, Sandy is rolling in the grass. She's happy and content with where she is. The front yard is not very big and a lot of people just drive right on by. Reminds me of our church. And just like the front yard is home to Sandy, our church is home to us. So let's be happy and content with where we are. Sure, our church will grow and change from time to time, but we shouldn't be looking for another church.
Finally, Sandy drug something into the yard that I wouldn't really put there. But she's having a ball playing with it. And it won't take long before I won't be able to recognize what it was because Sandy will have changed it. Her "marks" will be all over it. There are people in our community that some members might not want in church but we should bring them in and put our "marks" all over them so that they are changed. Unfortunately, many church folks would never think of inviting someone from the fringe of society (the side of the road) to come to church.
I've learned a lot from my dog this morning.
Thursday, August 07, 2008
It’s August and the heat is here. Fortunately, we are blessed with a few days of sub-100 degree temps. A friend of mine was excited about the forecasted high temp of 92! Perspective is everything, isn’t it? In April, 92 would be unimaginably hot. We would all jump on the Global Warming bandwagon. Rumors of Armageddon would flood email inbox. But in mid-August when you have 100+ temps for several days…
We like to view our closeness to God by comparing ourselves with others. We think that in relation to how bad other people live their lives, we are pretty good! I don’t drink, I don’t cheat, I don’t steal…
If we think like that, our perspective is all wrong. We don’t compare ourselves to each other. Our standard of righteousness is Jesus Christ. Yikes! I don’t look so good. I would rather compare myself to you. And you would rather compare yourself to me. But we won’t be judged based on who lived better than who. We will be judged based on our obedience to biblical principles.
Perspective is everything. And if you think the dog days of August are hot, those who reject Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord will face a destination much worse. Praise God for the blessed hope of salvation in Jesus Christ.
If you would like to know more about Jesus, please contact me at 501-821-3078 or email@example.com.
Friday, July 11, 2008
Have you noticed the high concentration of commercials for Rosetta Stone? This is a computer program that teaches foreign languages. It seems that more and more people are interested in learning a language other than their heart language. I've toyed with the idea of buying the Russian version so that I (and other volunteers) will have a better idea of the language when we take our mission trips to Russia over the next several years.
But I'm intrigued with the idea that people want to know a language besides their heart language. That is a great illustration for what is happening spiritually all across the world, but especially in America. God created us with a heart language; a language that communicates between God and us. He intends us to be in relationship with him - a relationship that is real and personal and vital. The task of each person is to learn that language and dialogue continually with God.
But the goal of those immersed in modern culture are seeking a different language. They are forsaking their heart language for something else…anything else. They will be able to communicate with each other but not with God. They will have neat relationships with each other but no relationship with God. They will think all is fine in this world but realize in eternity that they missed the point.
The point of this life is to communicate with God. His language is unique to him but accessible by anyone who calls on the name of Jesus. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a Rosetta Stone program for this? Instead, God has called us to teach them by telling them about Jesus Christ.
Monday, June 30, 2008
The worst thing you can put on a salad is oil and vinegar. Look at the bottle. You have to shake it up! I’ll bet that no long after you shake it up and pour it on the lettuce that it separates into oil and vinegar again. YUK!
Even worse is when someone engages in “ministry” to advance a personal agenda. There are lots of newsworthy things to put in a newsletter without having to beat up other Christians. They guys on TV who mix ministry and personal agenda are pretty easy to spot. I just wish everyone doing ministry would leave her personal agenda out of the discussion.
We celebrate our freedom this month. People talk about their freedom to do this or do that. Things like putting obscene bumper stickers on their cars or treating their spouses any way they like is not what the settlers had in mind, I don’t think. They wanted freedom from oppressive government and freedom to worship God as they saw fit. I admire that a lot more than I admire what some folks today want to claim as “freedom.”
In reality, we all live freely within boundaries. That sounds strange but it’s true. You are free to pursue any career you like as long as it is legal. See what I mean? Freedom within boundaries. For most of us, that’s no problem, but for some…well, you can spot them, can’t you?
The Bible says that all things were created and established by God. Even government is God’s idea. When a country operates according to God’s standards, the people are free to live and enjoy life and worship him. When these things are suppressed, the government is no longer operating according to God’s standards.
Some people think that living according to God’s standards binds or enslaves them. But just the opposite is true. That’s because freedom is a five-letter word: Jesus. Only in Christ can we truly be free.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Maybe I’m missing something, but aren’t stray dogs homeless? Ownerless? Thank you, I thought I was right about that.
So this lady pulls into the church parking lot and stops. A deacon goes to her to see if he can help her and she says, “Oh no, I’m just feeding my stray dogs.”
First, if they are yours, please take them home with you rather than feeding them in our parking lot. By nature, “stray” dogs “stay” where they find food. We are a church and we love all God’s creation but we don’t need dogs, dog food and its by-product in our parking lot.
Second, if they are yours, please take them home with you rather than feeding them in our parking lot. What caring dog owner would feed her pets in the parking lot at a busy intersection? She’s inviting these animals she claims as her own to die. They will eventually become road kill because they have learned to come running every time a car that looks like hers slows down.
It is virtually impossible to get rid of unwanted dogs in Saline county yet all across the county, state, and country unwanted babies are aborted for convenience or to avoid embarrassment or some other insufficient reason.
Why can’t people put their compassion to work in an arena that really matters?
Thursday, April 24, 2008
I don’t think of myself as being young or old, just somewhere in the middle. This month is a reminder of my aging. My birthday is the first week of May, my oldest son graduates college the first weekend of May, and the same son is getting married the last day of May. It’s going to be an a-MAY-zing month!
What’s really amazing is that God wants to be part of our lives at all these different stages. As I get older I am reminded that Heaven is closer now than ever before. Thinking about Heaven is exciting. But I also have to remember that while I am here on earth I have specific instructions to share the message of salvation in Jesus Christ. The Bible tells me that God’s Spirit is with me as I obey his command.
As the students pass through the portal of graduation into a new aspect of life, they will find that God wants to be part of their lives, too. Decisions about colleges and careers can seem overwhelming. As parents, we should teach our children to discover God’s plan before making major decisions. It will make all the difference in the world later on.
Nothing is as life changing as marriage. Was that an “Amen!” I heard? Including God in the formation of the marriage helps increase the likelihood that the marriage will last. Christians are not perfect, but we do have a source of strength and wisdom in God. His strength enables us to stay in a marriage and work out the problems. His wisdom guides us away from potential problems before they happen and through existing problems. Marriage is a wonderful gift from God and is a blessing when founded upon his love.
Your life is probably a lot like mine. Opportunities to trust God are plenty. So are chances to blow it.
Friday, March 14, 2008
Her singing career is taking off. A pornography magazine is pursuing her. Pop culture has a superstar and all it took was prostitution to get success rolling for her.
Makes me wonder, "What's important to us?"
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Another politician is embarrassed and in trouble because of sexual immorality. The New York governor is not the only person in this dilemma, just the most recent to have his picture on every news website and his name as the punch line of late night jokes. I see three problems in the previous sentence.
One is the late night jokes. More people laugh about this than mourn over it. Another person’s problems are funny to the public rather than a point of concern. Our culture has stopped caring about other people and their problems from the standpoint of helping and fixing. We now feed on the fallen as a way to humor ourselves…maybe to justify our own fallenness. Pray for the culture.
Another problem is the news coverage. Agreed, this is news-worthy but the talking heads miss the point, just like the comedians and their audiences. One person said that this is a uniquely American problem – not the adultery but the fact that it is viewed as a moral wrong – and that in Europe it wouldn’t even make the back page of the papers. I’ve come to the point that I don’t want American culture to be the harbinger of truth, much less European culture! Politicians are in the news talking about this, too. Most of them think it’s a tragedy. Democrats think losing this man from public life is a tragedy. Republicans think keeping this man in public life for even 48 more hours is a tragedy. The real tragedy is that a family is attacked by Satan and Satan seems to have won. Pray for the family: husband, wife, children.
The third problem is that the governor is not the only one in a dilemma such as this. Hardly anyone is shocked by these headlines anymore. This is a common happening in Hollywood, New York, even Little Rock. Maybe even in your family. Commonplace does not equal moral rightness. If we let the majority determine what is right we then remove God from the discussion. God needs no person to agree with him to validate his truth. God would have spared Sodom and Gomorrah if even ten moral people had been found there. Those choosing immorality totaled nearly 100%. In America the issue would be settled: immorality is OK. But God is not swayed by public opinion. Pray for the country.
And I don’t think God sits by inattentively as the world takes a downward spiral morally. I don’t know what God will do in response or when he will do it but I’m sure there will be a reckoning. There always has been. Pray for mercy.
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
I spent fifteen days on a mission trip to Russia in February. What a great experience! There were four pastors that traveled to Ekaterinburg and surrounding cities to conduct Bible conferences. During the four conferences we spoke to well over 300 believers. What is so amazing is that there are only 840 believers in the entire state of Sverdlovskaya. Can you imagine the effort it would take to speak to one-third of the believers in Arkansas? What a privilege to speak with them and encourage them in their faith…which is a hard life in Russia. Only one person out of two hundred is a believer in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
After I returned home I went to Lifeway Christian Stores and was talking about the trip with the sales person. She asked, “Did it change your life forever?”
It did. I’m ready to pack up and move my family over there but I still believe God has called me to preach right where I am. What I will do is mobilize my church to partner with believers in Russia through prayer and financial support so that more and more people come to know Christ. I hope to take some of my friends at Cross Road to Russia in the years to come.
So I’m writing the weekly devotion for the church’s website. It’s about asking God for wisdom like Solomon did. I start out by saying, “Imagine you found an Arabian lamp in your basement.”
No. What I said was, “Imagine you find and Arabian lamb in your basement.” Then I go on to say that you rub it just to see if a genie pops out!
What a dummy!
Thursday, January 24, 2008
In one corner was a guy about my age dressed in a suit and reading a book. A few seats away was an older fellow. Turns out that the young guy was a sales representative for a drug company. The old man recognizes the book the younger guy is reading and strikes up a conversation. Both have been in the Bible Study Fellowship for many years and the discussion goes on a while about that. Then they begin talking about their churches...I won't mention the churches but will say that I'm ashamed that we share the same denomination.
The younger guy's supervisor goes to the older guys church and they start comparing things. Each one seems to want to "one up" the other. Before long they have covered the topics of attendance, gymnasiums, children's facilities, and budgets. I guess all of that is OK except when they talked about funding missions. Both churches give 6% to the Cooperative Program of the Southern Baptist Convention. They used to give much more but in recent years have scaled back on CP Missions in order to fund mission trips and projects within the church. The older man suggested that his church reduced their giving because the mission boards didn't spend the money the way his church thought they should. The younger man agreed.
The older man thought 6% was generous because "6% of a $6 million budget is a lot of money." Members of Cross Road should be pleased to know that the most recent budget for our church included an increase of 1% to CP Missions. That amounts to about $1,000 more in 2008 than in 2007. By the way, 2007's budget also contained a 1% increase to CP Missions. Plus we set aside money for local missions and mission trips above that. Plus we have given larger missions offerings the past 2 years than at any time before.
I'm glad to tell folks that CRBC is mission-minded. We prove it by praying, giving, and going. And we are doing more of each than ever before at a time when others are scaling back in some areas. Preachers can get dreamy-eyed and wish they were the pastor of such-n-such church but I'm glad to pastor your church because you've got your mind on what is really important.
The men went back to talking about the success of their basketball programs. One does Upward Basketball and one has an in-house league for children. Both said that through these leagues they were able to attract kids and then get their families coming. The older gentleman said, "When parents step into the entry to our children's department and see what we have, I don't know why they would want to go anywhere else."
"That's what it all about," the younger one said.
They never talked about Jesus or sharing the gospel or helping people mature spiritually. From their conversation one could assess, fairly or unfairly, that they think church is about attendance, buildings, and money.
I've always thought church was about Jesus.
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
I piddle too much. Maybe you know how it is? "OK," I tell myself, "just one game of Hearts on the computer and then I'll get back to studying." "I'll quickly scan the news (paper and sites) then I'll move on." "Just one episode of Deal or No Deal and I'll be done."
I'm usually trying to meet deadlines at the last minute. I would much rather complete my tasks early and then have time for piddling. It just doesn't come easy for me even though I love the work I do and the preparation necessary for it.
So, a week and a half into the new year I'm making a resolution: I am resolved no longer to linger.