Monday, December 28, 2009

Hard Work or Chasing Fantasies.

As I read through Proverbs, I came to this verse today. It made me think of the lottery.


“He who works his land will have abundant food, but the one who chases fantasies will have his fill of poverty.” Proverbs 28:19 NIV


A very wealthy man who is a member of a very large church in Little Rock casually showed me the scratch-off card he had purchased earlier that day.


A very poor man casually mentioned losing a few dollars in the lottery.


Either way, there is a danger in gambling. The multi-million dollar jackpots are the fantasies of many people. Some can afford to lose the money needed to play. Others cannot. But that’s not the point.


The point is about our stewardship of what God has given us. In God’s economy, gain comes through hard work. Whether it’s a casino, a lottery, or a racetrack, none of these are hard work although many people put in a lot of effort playing. In reality, gambling is chasing fantasies.


At the end of the day we must ask ourselves if all that we have done honors God because at the end of our lives God will ask us the same question.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Break

Riley’s home this week. That means ‘round-the-clock Disney Channel! I can’t wait. I like some of the shows but not the reruns of the reruns of the reruns. But Riley can watch them over and over again.

I’m glad I have a job that allows me to be home with him. He’s old enough to entertain himself most of the time so I still get to study, make contacts, and prepare the publications. And he’s a real trooper (pastor in the making?) when it comes to hospital visits.

Now that it’s the week of Christmas, the schedule slows down in some ways and speeds up in others. The only remaining service is the Candlelight Service on Wednesday. I’ll work on it a little each day ‘til then. We’ll have Christmas with family Thursday night, Friday, and Saturday so I’ll need to be ready for Sunday a little earlier than usual.

And I have three assignments to complete for a D.Min. seminar coming up in January.

I guess there’s really not much time to slow down this week! But one thing I must do…celebrate Jesus. Try to do that every week rather than just once a year and it won’t be so hard to do it when life is hectic.

Friday, December 18, 2009

All I Want for Christmas...

Remember the uncle who was always the hardest to buy for? Apparently, that’s me. I’ve never had lots of money but I have been able to get all I need and most of what I want. That leaves little for a Christmas list to pass around to family and friends.

What I WANT are those things I can’t afford to buy myself. Like a GMC pickup. Or a new acoustic/electric guitar. Or all new A/V equipment for the church. Or the latest/greatest Canon digital camera outfit. Or a NASCAR Experience. I could go on for a while!

But you can’t put those things on a Christmas wish list to pass around. Being as serious as I can be, I’ll be happy with anything. Or nothing.

All I really want for Christmas is to spend time with Deana, Jim Bob, Caleb, and Riley. (Girlfriends included, but not for Riley!)

I want people to appreciate the holiday for what it is: the celebration of our Savior’s birth. I know it’s not Jesus’ real birthday (I guess it could be, though) but we can celebrate anyway.

I want the presents to take backseat to the presence of those who are present.

I want to remember Christmas at Mom and Dado’s (my grandparents) and try to create memories like that for my descendants.

I want to attend the family gatherings.

I want to worship with my church family on or near Christmas day.

That what I want for Christmas but if you can’t swing any of this just pick out something from the list above.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Say what you mean

I just came back to the office after spending a couple of hours in town Christmas shopping. An advertisement played on the radio that said, “Never paint your home again with [product name].” I don’t think that’s what they meant. The copy should have read, “With [product name] you’ll never have to paint your home again.”

Big difference!

Riley and I like to play “Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader.” One of us is the contestant and the other is the host. We make up questions and dollar amounts. We always win a million dollars! This morning he said, “Dad, will you take me to school?” “Sure,” I said. A little later he said, “Can we play ‘Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader’ on the way to school?” I said, “Yes, we can play ‘Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader on the Way to School.” He started to get mad but then laughed because he’s used to me being picky about the language.

During the first session of my second seminary class, as we were introducing ourselves to one another, the professor asked me where I lived. I told him I lived in Russellville (the class was meeting in Little Rock). “Where’s that?” he asked. “About half way between Little Rock and Fort Smith,” I said. “Oh,” he said, “where’s that?” “Well,” I responded, “ Russellville is about 80 miles up I-40.” “Oh,” he said, “where’s that?”

I learned a valuable lesson that day: “Tighten up your language!” as the professor would say.

So my iPhone buzzed and I looked at the text that just came in from Twitter. A scholarly guy was saying that the “inn” in Luke 2 was really a “guest room” and that Jesus was born in the common room of the house because the guest room was full. The common room would have been a place where valuable or fragile animals would be kept overnight, thus the manger.

I grew up in a preacher’s home. I’ve been in ministry since 1982. I’ve complete a master’s degree and am working on a doctorate. Why have I never heard this? I’m now digging into the original text of the New Testament and researching NT background for answers. So far, I think the scholarly guy is right. Kinda messes up all the Christmas pageants and cantatas I’ve participated in through the years.

I need to rewrite a sermon that I’m planning to preach.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Opinions about Abortion

I was just reading On Mission magazine during lunch. One of the statistical displays is about views on abortion. The column was a list of issues when an abortion might be considered and gave a percentage of respondents who said abortion should be legal in each case and a percentage of respondents who said abortion should be illegal in each case.

A fascinating trend emerged for me as I reviewed the information (Source: Fox News/Opinion Dynamics Poll, March 2006 and Time/CNN Poll, January 2003). A certain amount of people think abortion should be legal in any/all circumstances and a certain amount of people think abortion should be illegal in any/all circumstances.

Seventy-two percent say abortion should be legal if the mother’s life is endangered; fifteen percent say abortion should be illegal in that case.

Ten percent say abortion should be legal in the last three months of pregnancy; eighty-four percent say abortion should be illegal in that case.

Whatever opinion you hold, one thing is sure; as the song sung by Gold City says, “Only God knows just what he could have been.”

The debate is not likely to end in a court room or legislative hall. However, God – who has the ultimate say in morality and ethics – has the definitive opinion. Our task is to read his Word, pray for discernment, and have courage to believe and live the truth.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The Father's Son

A wealthy man and his son loved to collect rare works of art.  They had everything in their collection, from Picasso to Raphael.  They would often sit together and admire the great works of art..

When the  Vietnam conflict broke out, the son went to war. He was very courageous and died in battle while rescuing another soldier. The father was notified and grieved deeply for his only son.

About a month later, just before Christmas, there was a knock at the door. A young man stood at the door with a large package in his hands.

He said, ‘Sir, you don’t know me, but I am the soldier for whom your son gave his life. He saved many lives that day, and he was carrying me to safety when a bullet struck him in the heart and he died instantly.  He often talked about you, and your love for art.’ The young man held out this package. ‘I know this isn’t much. I’m not really a great artist, but I think your son would have wanted you to have this.’

The father opened the package.  It was a portrait of his son, painted by the young man. He stared in awe at the way the soldier had captured the personality of his son in the painting. The father was so drawn to the eyes that his own eyes welled up with tears.  He thanked the young man and offered to pay him for the picture . ‘Oh, no sir, I could never repay what your son did for me. It’s a gift.’

The father hung the portrait over his mantle. Every time visitors came to his home he took them to see the portrait of his son before he showed them any of the other great works he had collected.

The man died a few months later. There was to be a great auction of his paintings. Many influential people gathered, excited over seeing the great paintings and having an opportunity to purchase one for their collection.

On the platform sat the painting of the son. The auctioneer pounded his gavel. ‘We will start the bidding with this picture of the son. Who will bid for this picture?’

There was silence….

Then a voice in the back of the room shouted, ‘We want to see the famous paintings. Skip this one.’

But the auctioneer persisted. ‘Will somebody bid for this painting? Who will start the bidding? $100, $200?’

Another voice angrily. ‘We didn’t come to see this painting. We came to see the Van Goghs, the Rembrandts. Get on with the Real bids!’

But still the auctioneer continued. ‘The son! The son! Who’ll take the son?’

Finally, a voice came from the very back of the room. It was the longtime gardener of the man and his son. ‘I’ll give $10 for the painting…’ Being a poor man, it was all he could afford.

‘We have $10, who will bid $20?’

‘Give it to him for $10. Let’s see the masters.’

The crowd was becoming angry. They didn’t want the picture of the son. They wanted the more worthy investments for their collections.

The auctioneer pounded the gavel.  ‘Going once, twice, SOLD for $10!’

A man sitting on the second row shouted, ‘Now let’s get on with the collection!’

The auctioneer laid down his gavel. ‘I’m sorry, the auction is over.’

‘What about the paintings?’

‘I am sorry. When I was called to conduct this auction, I was told of a secret stipulation in the will.   I was not allowed to reveal that stipulation until this time. Only the painting of the son would be auctioned. Whoever bought that painting would inherit the entire estate, including the paintings. The man who took the son gets everything!’

God gave His son 2,000 years ago to die on the cross. Much like the auctioneer, His message today is: ‘The son, the son, who’ll take the son?’

Because, you see, whoever takes the Son gets everything.

Copied from Mark Lowry’s Blog

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

People Need the Lord

I love that song because it simply states a truth and issues a challenge.

I know people who are at the end of broken dreams today. They need the Lord. One family lost a wife/mother just a couple of weeks ago. Another family lost a son/grandson over the weekend. The headlines tell us of a famous sports figure whose home life may be severely wounded. A friend’s brother made it through surgery yesterday but died today. People need the Lord.

It’s one thing to say that people need the Lord but it’s another thing to do something about it. The world population is over 6 billion people – all of whom need the Lord. I’m not sure how many have embraced Jesus Christ as the only hope for eternal life, but I would guess that 1 billion would be a generous estimate. People need the Lord.

So what am I going to do about it? I am part of a church that has partnered with missionaries in Russia to reach a city called Talitsa. I am praying for opportunities to go there and for the believers in the city – there are just a few. Our partnership with American missionaries and Russian believers will result in a church in the city that will reach further into the city and lead more to Christ.

Sharing my faith with others is not easy; I get nervous like most people do when given an opportunity to share one on one. But I am praying for greater courage. I am getting better at talking with people in stores and restaurants. The tools for sharing are abundant. In the role of pastor, I am leading my church to also get involved in sharing their faith with others. We need to establish a regular time each week/month for doing this in our community.

I believe in the Southern Baptist’s Cooperative Program and support it fully. Over 10,000 missionaries are on the field world-wide because of CP. People who need the Lord are hearing the gospel. Through CP and the special missions offerings taken through our church, I am part of a global strategy to impact eternity.

Finally, I am teaching my family to tell others about Jesus. That is perhaps my greatest responsibility outside of sharing the gospel myself. My hope is that my family will be involved in missions and evangelism in our Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth. My prayer is that we will not be afraid, reluctant, or hesitant about speaking up for Jesus.

Because people need the Lord.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


The rotating responsibility, opportunity, and pleasure to preach the message at the Annual Community Thanksgiving Service was mine last night. Since I’ve been at my church for only three years, I’ve not had the chance to do this and it was a great joy. The service is a combined ministry of Martindale Baptist Church (this year’s host), Holly Springs Baptist Church, Pleasant Grove Baptist Church (new to the service this year), and Cross Road Baptist Church. As Larry Walters, pastor of Martindale, has said, “Maybe with four churches we can fill up one building.” We didn’t. But the worship and fellowship were worth the time spent.

My message was based on 1 Corinthians 1:4-9. One of the things Paul was thankful for concerning the believers in Corinth was their salvation. “He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (verse 8). Do you remember when you were a kid and the teacher would try to find out who hid the erasers? Each of us would point at another kid and blame him. We wanted to avoid having the blame laid on us because along with the blame came the punishment.

I could wax eloquent here trying to convince you that I have not and do not do anything wrong. But those of you who know me would quickly point out that lie I was telling. The truth is this: I am a sinner. If God were to go through a list of alleged sins I’ve committed I would have to say that each of them were my fault. I am at fault!

But the Lord Jesus Christ to the blame. And the punishment. My sins will always be my fault but Jesus’ death on the cross will always take the blame.

I am thankful that I am blameless. An old gospel song says, “He looked beyond my fault and saw my need.” I needed forgiveness and redemption because of my sins – my fault. Jesus interceded and met my need.

Will you accept the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ today? You are at fault, too, but Jesus will take the blame.

Admit you are a sinner.

Believe that Jesus is the son of God and his death on the cross is the only remedy for your sin problem.

Confess Jesus as your Savior and Lord and Commit to live your life to honor him.

If you have just followed these easy steps to becoming a follower of Jesus Christ or would like to know more, please leave a message on this post.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Parenting 101

It’s not that hard. Much of parenting is instinctive. And what kids want the most from their parents is pretty simple to give them. They want you to spend time with them. You’ve figured that out, haven’t you?

When my oldest and middle sons were about 8 and 10 years old, they went with me on the annual church float trip on the Buffalo River in north Arkansas. The oldest, Jim, rode in a canoe with one of our friends and Caleb, the younger one, rode with me. The weather had been rather dry that Spring and floating the river required lots of paddling. At times we even had to push ourselves along the bottom as the water was pretty shallow in places.

By the end of the day, I was wore out. You can imagine how much help an 8-yr-old was.

The next day at church I was complaining about being tired and sunburned and sore. From my perspective, it was an awful float trip.

I overheard Caleb talking about the trip when someone asked him how it was: “It was a great day. I got to ride with my Dad.”

Parenting isn’t so hard. It’s not that expensive. It is a matter of priority and time. That which is important to us gets our time and attention.

I’ve tried to remember that principle ever since that weekend with my boys. Love is spelled T-I-M-E. I think Zig Ziglar first said that.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I’ve had my iPhone since early September. A selling point of the iPhone is the hundreds of applications you can load on the phone. Apple and its partners have apps for almost everything from banking to games to recipes to sports scores. A person could spend hours searching through the apps trying to find a few he likes. I’ve found about five dozen. And I’m still looking!

What if we searched so diligently through the Bible to find application for our lives? The search would be much simpler because everything in God’s Word applies to our lives whereas only a few dozen of the thousands of iPhone apps actually apply. The apps on the phone are supposed to make your life so much better and more fun and more productive. The Bible does that perfectly!

The Bible is the perfect application for your life. I have a Bible app on my iPhone. I need to make sure I have a Bible app for my life.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Update on GCR

I've been in favor of a Great Commission Resurgence since the Spring when Danny Akin, Alvin Reid, and Johnny Hunt really began talking it up. Putting more emphasis on the Great Commission is a good thing. As the months have passed and the task force was assembled and meetings held across the country, I've noticed something that disturbs me. The emphasis seems to be on the Cooperative Program while using the words "Great Commission."

The Cooperative Program (CP) is the way Southern Baptists cooperate to fund missions and ministry around the world. Our church gives 10% of our undesignated receipts to CP. This amount goes to our state convention. Of our CP dollars, about 58% stays in Arkansas and the other 42% goes to the national convention where it is disbursed to agencies and boards of the SBC. The convention's six seminaries get part of the money. The International and North American Mission Boards get part fo the money. The training of our young ministers and our support of missionaries world-wide are the most important aspects of CP.

If Southern Baptists want to fulfill the Great Commission, we will be more successful working together and pooling our resources. CP and GC are not synonymous but CP directly impacts GC. It seems that the leaders of the Great Commission Resurgence focus more on CP and less on GC.

A Great Commission Resurgence (GCR) should emphasize reaching the lost whever they are on the planet. A Cooperative Program Resurgence (CPR) should emphasize our stewardship of resources to accomplish the GC.

We need CPR to accomplish GCR. But the two are different issues. Interrelated, but different. Would anybody be against a GCR? Malcolm Yarnell asked that question in response to Johnny Hunt's tweet. Hunt was replying to a story that IMB shortfalls could affect 600 positions. He said, "Why would anyone still oppose a GCR?" GCR and funding are related but not the same thing.

I want to see our churches impact eternity by getting more serious about the Great Commission. In order to do that effectively, we need CPR. But one shouldn't use GCR to rally support for his desire to change. CP.

Again, GCR does not equal CPR. In fact, GCR is not exactly GC.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Deer Season

I bagged my first deer yesterday. Really. Our dog drug up a carcass – complete with everything except the meat. The lazy hunter didn’t dispose of the remains, he just took what he wanted. So I took a large trash bag and, well, I bagged my first deer yesterday.

I used to hunt. I went with my Dad a few times and enjoyed getting out there and listening to the sounds of nature. But I’ve never seen a deer when I had a loaded gun in my hands. I gave up hunting a long time ago. I get it, it’s just not my thing. I’d rather shoot one with a Canon than a rifle.

When I came to Cross Road to meet the people, preach for them, and let them vote on me (we Southern Baptists have some strange rituals!) we had a Q&A time after lunch. Someone asked about my hobbies and I rattled off golf, photography, and travel. A voice from the back of the room said, “Don’t he like to hunt and fish?”

I remember one particular hunting trip when I was a teenager. My Dad and I went with one of his buddies from work, Jack Derreck. Jack reloaded his own ammunition and was proud of his work. He was bragging about it as we walked back to the trucks. When we finally made it, Jack took a handgun from behind the seat of his truck (it was perfectly legal and accepted back then) and demonstrated his craft. He took aim at the nearest STOP sign and pulled the trigger. The bang was loud. But we saw the lead from the shell squirt out the end of the barrel and land about ten feet in front of him. Way short of the target. We all agreed that something was wrong, got in our trucks, and drove off.

That’s my Deer Camp Story. If you are a hunter, I hope you have a great experience this year so you can tell you story, too.

I hope our trash man doesn’t read my blog.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Yard Sale 4 Missions

We had a great day at CRBC. The yard sale started out under cloud cover and the apparent threat of rain. That kept the crowd away. But the skies cleared and the sun came shining through by mid-morning and the shoppers came out in big numbers.

The total amount sold was not so big but we moved a lot of stuff. Over both weekends, we collected almost $1,000 for our 2010 Russia Mission Trip. So many people helped. Most of our families donated items for the sale. Several men and women helped promote, prepare for, and clean up after the event. And so many worked during the hours of the sale.

Hopefully, by Tuesday all the left-overs will be gone - ARC is picking up everything except the furniture. Not only did we raise money for a good cause, but we also will help a worthy cause here in central Arkansas.

Thanks to all of you who helped in some way. When our teams walks the streets of Talitsa next Spring, you will be part of it! To God be the glory.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009


Day One of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention is behind us and what a day it was. Reports, sermons, and business sessions filled the agenda.

I particularly enjoyed sermons by David Uth, JD Greear, and Emil Turner. I was inspired by reports from Robby Tingle for the Missions Ministries Team and Rex Horne's OBU report.

And you can't beat meeting and catching up with friends. Afterall, the ABSC is a collection of churches and people who want to work together to reach the world for Jesus.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Center Ridge First Baptist Church

Sometimes you wonder how a church will do once you are gone. It’s been over six years since I left FBC in Center Ridge. I learned a lot while I was there, made a good number of mistakes, and helped them some, I hope.

They have overcome my inadequacies as a pastor and have grown so that they needed a new sanctuary. I was honored to attend the dedication of a new 300-seat auditorium yesterday. The relationships we established while serving there for four and a half years are special to Deana and me. I felt great joy being able to go back.

Russ Rhoden is one energetic dude! He says the key to CRFBC’s growth has been their ability to connect with students. They will have around 120 kids on campus each Wednesday night. They feed them, play loud music, and teach the Word.

I claim no responsibility for how the church is doing but I am pleased to have pastored them from April 1999 to August 2003.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Lottery Headlines

The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery is in the news. Two headlines caught my attention last week.

The first story was about a woman who tried to claim winnings with an illegal scratch-off card. Subsequent stories have her family members claiming someone must have switched cards with her because she would never do that on her own. The bottom line is this: the lottery has exposed the criminal element, whoever it is. We knew this would happen and crime statistics from other states with lotteries was given as evidence last year when we were voting on the lottery.

The second story was from the same incident. The lottery commission was praising the security measures it put in place to protect against fraud. The commission even acknowledged to criminal element inherent in a gambling by setting up and celebrating the security measures. On one hand you might wonder why Arkansans would allow something like this to become law. On the other hand, the potential for ill-gotten gain overshadows the risk.

The lottery is a clear sign that Arkansans, as a whole, have given up depending on God to provide for them. May Arkansas know and embrace Jehovah Jireh of Genesis 22.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Life's Not Fair

I’m watching the playoff game between the Yankees and Angels. A handful of bad calls by the umpire crew. Two against the Angels. One against the Yankees.

The announcers interviewed Yankee Manager Joe Girardi during the last commercial break and asked about the strange calls. He can’t say much without being chastised by the MLB office so he just said, “You just try to keep posting zeros for them and runs for us.”

That’s great advice for Christians as we face the details of everyday living. Often it’s not fair. We face one situation after another where the breaks go the other way. Not to worry, though. Just keep trusting the Lord and do your best. Remember, he is at work in all things to bring about good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).

Life may not be fair but God is. And he is bigger than life.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Thoughts on an Early Sunday Morning

It’s not yet 7:00 and I’ve been up almost 4 hours. Not sure why I couldn’t sleep but around 3:00 I woke up and began thinking about today. I was sleeping pretty good until then.

I was thinking about poor choices I made as a teenager and young man. I thought about how some of those decisions have impacted my life in drastic, obvious ways. All the decisions changed my life in one way or another. A few years ago I preached a sermon from the book of Ruth in the Old Testament. I talked about Ruth’s decision to follow Naomi back to Bethlehem, how God used her faithfulness so that she became great-grandmother of King David. That never would have happened if she had not make a few good decisions.

Decisions do make a difference.

But my past is checkered with poor decisions; just a few good ones sprinkled in along the way. Mostly, my poor decisions have been times when I chose to do what I wanted rather than what God desired. That is called sin and it is a terrible mistake.

But I was thinking about today when we will baptize a girl who has placed faith in Jesus Christ, repented of her sins, and confessed Jesus as her Savior and Lord. Because of that good decision her sins are forgiven, she’s been washed in the blood of Jesus so that her black sins stain her no more and God sees her as white as snow.

Her baptism is a symbol of the transaction that took place in her life when she made the decision.

So I couldn’t sleep. Not so much because of my mistakes playing in the cinema of my mind, but because of the memory of my own decision to follow Christ.

It’s hard to sleep when you’ve got so much to look forward to and such good news to share with others.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wireless Internet
I am sitting at San Francisco Bread Company drinking coffee and using the free wireless internet. Can’t do this at home or at the office today because my HughesNet connection is slow. I violated the Fair Access Policy so HughesNet bumped my speed way down, even slower than dialup. I can’t wait until AT&T gets DSL out here. Looks like they’ve stopped working on our road and are working a few miles away. They stopped just 2 miles from my house!

Anyway, that’s not what I’m writing about today. I’m blogging about having a good communications connection. I could have stayed home or went to the office (next door) but the communication would have been horrible. Slow. Interrupted. Frustrating. So I chose to drive 15 minutes into town and spend a little money to get the fast and clear connection.

I had to spend money on the FREE internet connection because I feel bad sitting in here without buying a cup of coffee…and a bagel sandwich. So the better connection was not really free. It cost me time, inconvenience, and money.

But it is worth it!

What about your communication with God? You can take the easy way out and put little effort into it. You’ll get about that much out of it, too. If your communication with God has been spotty or weak or slow, then you need to ramp up your effort and spend some quality time with God.

It will be worth it!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009


Here is an honest confession. My vision is messed up. Without corrective lenses I can see things from a few inches to a couple of feet from my nose clearly. Beyond that, it’s really blurry. With corrective lenses I can see everything else but the up close stuff is blurry. So I either wear glasses to see at a distance and take them off to read or I wear contacts and use reading glasses for the up close stuff. The next step is bifocals, I guess. Or expensive surgery!

The point is more clear than my vision: if I continue as I have then something will always be out of focus. I need to make adjustments so that I can see clearly both near and far.

The same can be said for a church…for our church. We can easily lose sight of some things when we focus only on specific things. I’m NOT saying that a church should be doing everything that comes to our minds or across our desk or into our mailbox. Associations, conventions, and parachurch groups always have something NEW AND IMPROVED. What I am saying is that we must focus on essentials and not lose sight of any of them.

For example, we must make disciples. That means we are to share the gospel with people who do not follow Jesus Christ. We must focus on evangelism if we take seriously the task of the Great Commission. And we are to do it all over the planet.

Another example is that we are to assimilate these new disciples into church fellowship, according to the Great Commission. That part of the GC is not a mandate for church membership but an emphasis on the importance of identifying with Christ and with other believers. Only within the context of a local church can a believer mature into the disciple God wants him to be.

The last example of an essential on which we must focus is the maturation of believers. Each one of us can be more mature in following Christ. Nobody has already arrived at full Christian maturity and we won’t as long as we are on this earth on this side of the grave. So the church must teach all that Jesus taught so that we can all become more like him.

Whew! That’s a lot to do. Where do we start? What’s most important? What should be our focus?

All of it. Making disciples. Assimilating disciples. Maturing disciples. When a church takes its eyes off any of these it will eventually lose focus on all of them.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Early on Saturday Morning

Saturday mornings are much quieter than weekday mornings. No school traffic and less work traffic. There is an increase in one kind of traffic: bicycles! But the make much less noise. A noise that’s actually kinda soothing.

Settling in with a cup of coffee and something to read while the rest of the family still sleeps. Listening to our dog bark lazily at something across the road. Noticing the absence of clock alarms sounding.  All is quiet on this cool autumn morning. The first Saturday morning of the new season!

I’ve read from the Psalms this morning how God watches out for the helpless. Though the evil, the arrogant, and the selfish take advantage of so many people, God promises to care for those faithful to him. Faithfulness carries with it the reward of God’s protection and blessing. This is not always evident in this life but always present throughout eternity.

I will focus on this promise and consider how God may want to use me to bring this promise to others.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Apologizing for Bad Behavior

The last few days have been rich with examples of bad behavior. First there was the US congressman from South Carolina, Joe Wilson. Mr. Wilson listened to President Obama’s speech Wednesday night with emotions rising within him. Then when the President said that his healthcare plan would not be extended to illegal aliens, Mr. Wilson could stand it no more. “You lie!” The joint session of Congress could not have been any quieter than at that moment. “You lie!” rang through the hall. People from all political persuasions immediately called for Mr. Wilson’s apology, which he gave.


Then Serena Williams was on the verge of being eliminated from the US Open Tennis Championships when a line judge called a foul on her, giving her opponent a point. Because of the point, it was match point against Williams. Williams, one of the best tennis players in the world, lashed out at the judge using language we would be embarrassed for our children to hear. Tournament officials got involved and Williams left the court, giving the match to her opponent. She later apologized.


Next, it was time for Kanye West to act foolish. And he came through in fine fashion. His friend deserved the award on MTVs VMA telecast but another artist took the prize. While Taylor Swift was making her acceptance speech, West takes the stage and claims that Beyonce’s video was the best and should have won. The uproar was immediate. I was watching a football game but began receiving Tweets about it as it was happening. Entertainment insiders and outsiders called for an apology. He posted an apology on his website but later removed it.


Not a good week for your last name to start with a W.


I think Wilson, Williams, and West should have apologized for their terrible behavior. More importantly, I believe they should change their behavior. Emotions should not overtake a person so that they misbehave. Attitudes should not be more important than manners. Everybody has a right to their opinion and to disagree with others. How that disagreement is voiced is as important as the right to disagree. When you think that you or what you have to say is more important that someone else, you have sunk to a level below decency and manners.


To Joe Wilson, Serena Williams, and Kanye West: hopefully, genuine apologies have or will be given and better behavior will validate the apology. If your actions don’t back up your words, don’t bother to speak.


P.S. Mr. Wilson, I’m not opposed to what you said, just how you said it.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Where were you on September 11, 2001?

It was just a few minutes after 8:00 A.M. and we began to get calls telling us what was happening across the northeast. I worked at ICT Group in Morrilton, Arkansas. ICT is a call center handling customer service calls for many of the nation’s leading mortgage companies. I was in a training class when I heard the news.

The rest of the day was different than previous days. While we tried to carry on as usual, that was impossible. The uncertainty bred a sense of fear throughout the building. Rumors about wars, rising gas prices, and the end of time spread quickly.

Many people – some Christians, some not – asked me if this was the beginning of the end. Is this Armageddon? These questions opened the door for me to share the gospel freely. I would respond that I didn’t know if this was the end of time but I did know how important it was to know for sure you were ready for it. I spoke freely of Jesus Christ and am thankful for the opportunity.

The quick, strong response by the United States under the direction of President George W. Bush restored order and kept us free and safe. The sacrifice of the US military personnel is heroic and the key to our success in the fight against terrorism. My prayers have been that God would bless each person responsible for the freedom, safety, and strength of the United States.

Many families will mourn tomorrow. They lost loved ones on 9/11 on American soil. They lost loved ones over the past 8 years overseas. We all must pray that God keeps his promises to comfort the sorrowful and punish the wicked.

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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Obama's Speech

Have you read the text of the prepared remarks the President plans to give today? I did. It didn’t take long so everyone should read it. I think it’s a good speech and my child should hear it. The only disagreement I have is over the state of the environment. I don’t believe it is as fragile as the President does.

But the speech avoid politics and he certainly has the freedom and power to speak to children in the public schools. His influence upon the public schools in other ways should be of greater concern. I have a niece in private school. She won’t have to hear this speech unless her parents read it or show it to her. I have a similar choice: I can take my son out of school today. I will not do that given the prepared remarks I have read. I hope the President sticks to the teleprompter. And I hope there is no Q&A time allowing him to inject politics into the classroom.

I am praying for my son and others to hear a message of encouragement and responsibility that spurs them on to excellence. I’ll take care of teaching him morality and ethics, right and wrong.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Morning Light

"The path of righteousness is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day." (Proverbs 4:18)

I'm in the Ozark mountains, skies are overcast. Still, I can see the morning light come through chasing away the darkness. I want my life to reflect Christ so clearly that it chases away the darkness in the lives of people I meet today. Not just like a sunrise on a cloudy day but a full noon sunlight on a cloudless day.

My righteousness is as filthy rags but I no longer am clothed in my own but I now wear the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Let it shine today!


Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Twelve and a half years

Today is our anniversary! Deana and I have been married twelve and a half years. We were talking this morning about the way we have changed over the years. We decided to love each other and that has helped us experience some amazing things. I stick to my decision and my love for Deana is as strong as ever…that hasn’t changed. One thing that has changed is the things about her that I love. I know her better now than then and there are so many things about her that are lovely and loveable.

So I wanted to take a minute today to tell you that I love Deana and to tell Deana that I love her. We got a late start so we may not make 50 years, but if you think about it we are already halfway there. Twelve and a half for me and twelve and a half for Deana equals twenty-five years! Maybe we will make it to fifty!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Saturday Morning Thoughts

I love Saturday mornings. Typically, I wake up with Riley because we have been snuggling on Friday nights for a long time. He’s a good snuggle buddy but, like his older brothers, he’s almost at the age where snuggling with Daddy isn’t such fun. For now, though, I’m enjoying every moment.

Then we have breakfast. Sometimes, it’s pancakes (World Famous Pancakes) or cinnamon rolls or muffins. Today, it’s chocolate chip muffins and a cup of coffee. This is one of the few times we all have breakfast together.

But then my Saturdays usually take a turn toward the office. Today is no different. A couple of hours at home then the rest of the day at the office. This week, my Saturday is not a day off because of a three day seminar in Nashville. Most weeks, I just lollygag. So I need a plan to get everything done by Thursday afternoon so I can enjoy some time alone and with the family on Friday and Saturday. I’ll work on that, but for now, I’m enjoying my coffee and family.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I’ve gotten behind on my seminar assignments…again. I had a good plan six weeks ago but deadlines are here and I’m still reading and writing. I gathered all the books and even began reading, but one thing after another came up and I pushed aside the assignments. Most of the distractions were important things but not all of them needed my immediate attention. Then there were the “time gremlins” that stole my time but gave nothing in return.

When I worked in JC Penney during my college days, we had customers who shopped but never purchased anything. We called them “TWs” because they were time wasters. With a sales goal looming over your heard each week, you didn’t want to get stuck with at TW! But I let TWs have my time with these assignments and now I’m scrambling to get them completed.

Christians have been given an assignment from the Lord – the Great Commission. If we want to complete the assignment we must get on and stay on task. There will be many TWs and time gremlins along the way. Distractions await at every turn. Those serious about the task will focus on their responsibilities and draw strength from the Spirit; they will rely upon the Lord for direction and motivation.

The unique thing about this assignment is the due date: we continue working on it until we die or until Jesus returns. At first glance, that seems like an easy obligation; but when you realize that you don’t know when that due date will arrive, you should feel a sense of urgency to get busy. I want to become more and more like Christ so I can be more and more effective carrying out my task.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

In Defense of the Association, State Convention, and SBC

I am in favor of a Great Commission Resurgence. I would have voted to assemble the Task Force if I had been able to attend the SBC annual meeting in Louisville in June. I am committed to praying for the Task Force daily. I believe the local church should hold all agencies, institutions, etc., accountable to be good stewards of the resources we send them.

This is the purpose of a Great Commission Resurgence and I hope the Task Force will stay on task. Getting side-tracked by a personal agenda would be easy and tempting; but the churches of the SBC do not want representatives of a handful of megachurches to restructure the denomination to suit them.

Now, let me defend the existence and work of the Pulaski Baptist Association, Arkansas Baptist State Convention, and the Southern Baptist Convention from the perspective of a small church pastor who desires to see his community and world impacted by the church he leads.

Pulaski Baptist Association, under the leadership of Danny Johnson, is a group of churches working together in places like Little Rock, New York, Mexico, St. Louis, and New Orleans. Using a modest budget, the association staff does some preliminary groundwork and planning that helps churches like mine get plugged into ministry. Our church sends 3% of our undesignated receipts to PBA – that’s not much money. In return, we get the planning mentioned above plus the availability of vans to use on our trips. That saves us the expense of owning and operating a van ourselves. We have an older van but it is not road worthy for a long trip. PBA also gives pastors opportunities for fellowship where we encourage each other and have lots of fun. We need that. Ministers receive support for further education. Danny takes groups of pastors and leaders to convention meetings and mission vision trips. Even if our church is not able to go on a trip, we participate through our contributions. We are impacting lives through PBA.

The Arkansas Baptist State Convention receives 10% of our undesignated funds. This funds missions and ministry around the state. Their staff helps us with education, training, and planning. Bob Fielding and Robby Tingle have helped us with logistics of planning an international missions trip. The Arkansas Baptist Builders coordinated work in New Orleans so our teams could spend the week helping remodel houses damaged by Hurricane Katrina. ABSC sends about 42% of our contribution to the Southern Baptist Convention where additional ministry and mission work is carried out.

The biggest advantage of being part of the SBC for our church in recent years has been our partnership with SBC missionaries in Russia. We are able to work directly with TeamSOAR, led by Rusty and Lori Hart in Ekaterinburg. I have made two trips since coming to CRBC and plan to take one trip each year and lead many in our church to also go. While in Russia, we are able to plug into the work already ongoing and we also can help establish new work in the region. Our impact in that part of the world is greater because of the SBC.

A proposal by the Great Commission Task Force that hinders these relationships in any way will face opposition by small churches like ours. Big churches have pulled support away from local associations and state conventions in recent years. Many have reduced Cooperative Program contributions, too. The truth is, they don’t need associations, state conventions, and the SBC; and small church can’t make it without this cooperation.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Last Days

For those of you familiar with my preaching/teaching, you are probably surprised by the title of this blog post. Let me clarify what I am talking about: summer vacation is almost over and school starts next week!

Riley and I have been watching “Phineas and Ferb” all summer and we love the theme song. It starts like this: “A hundred and four days of summer vacation and school comes along just to end it.” That’s what’s happening. Except I’m not sure how you get 104 days of it, though! I’m counting about 75 or so.

Anyway, as the summer break comes to a close, Riley and I get to spend the days together because his normal childcare is taking the rest of the summer off. What can we do? More “Phineas and Ferb” for one thing! Riley is also going with me as I make home visits and associational meetings. He’s a trooper. All he needs is him MP3 player and his Nintendo DS and he’s good to go.

I wish everyone was so agreeable. If Christians were “good to go” we might see more ministry, more missions, more evangelism…

We are, after all, living in the Last Days. One day Jesus will return to gather all the believers and establish his millennial reign on earth. Just like Riley and I are making the most of the last days before school starts, don’t you want to make the most of the last days before Jesus returns?

So get involved in the ministry and missions your local church is doing. Share the good news of Jesus Christ with someone today. Be found faithful by impacting eternity now.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Bruce Chesser

I consider Bruce a friend although we never hung out together or shared personal concerns. We don’t know much about each other personally. We came to Little Rock at about the same time. He came to pastor one of the largest Baptist churches; I came to pastor one of the smallest. But over the years I found Bruce to be a friend.


The main reason for this is that he took the time to have breakfast with guys like me and to know our names. And he seemed to like the time we all spent together. I did. I had a job in another town, spent all my time at the church, had almost zero interaction with folks outside those two circles and family, but could sit in a fellowship hall or IHOP and feel like I belonged.


So, thanks, Bruce. And the best of the Lord’s blessings for you and your family as you head to Hendersonville.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

God Still Moves

I’m not sure I can adequately express what I’m thinking but I have to try. When I say that God still moves it’s not like I thought he had stopped; this is more an affirmation than a revelation. A southern gospel song has the words “it’s good to know how it feels.” I believe God’s presence is more than a feeling and that he is with me even if I don’t feel it, but it IS good to know how it feels!


Worship tonight was as good as I’ve experienced in quite a while. The songs were spot on. The prayer time was phenomenal. The Word was so relevant. I hope I’m not the only one who realized it! If you were there, didn’t you sense it, too? God was moving among us, stirring us and drawing us nearer to him.


Personal decisions I’ve made recently coupled with some specific needs within our church and an awareness of our responsibility to the Gospel seemed to create the perfect storm, if you will. I’m convinced that God wants to move like this all the time but I know that we have to be ready and open to receive it. So God moved.


Maybe some were just spectators and didn’t get it. Maybe some were bored or turned off. Maybe some were drawn closer to God. Maybe some, like me, know that revival is coming. Would you like to know the key to revival?










“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV










God still moves!

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Staying Caught Up

That was a fast week. I really need to relax more. The problem is that I’m lazy and don’t stay on top of my work; so I’m always busy. Does that make sense – lazy but always busy? I don’t like being called lazy, even if I’m the one calling me names!

So today is a new day, a fresh start for me. I’m reading and writing in preparation for a leadership seminar I’m taking later this month. Something I read this week got my attention. Spiritual Leadership by Blackaby and Blackaby says that leaders must maintain a routine. We often think of routine as boring, monotonous, or mundane; however, the discipline of routine keeps leaders focused on what really matters. I’m easily distracted; therefore, I need routine. I need a schedule. This is not to say that I won’t or can’t allow important things to interrupt my schedule, but it is to say that by scheduling the important things I know I’ll get them done.

I’m using Outlook and my Blackjack II for organization and reminders. I’m hoping to get an iPhone in September, but I digress! The most important element of motivation and organization is prayer. Through prayer I will draw nearer to God and understand what he wants me to do and how he will help me do it. Through prayer I will stay focused on the important people and tasks in my life. Through prayer I will become more like Jesus Christ, the ultimate “on-task” leader.

Every priority in my life has suffered because of my lack of organization, my procrastination, and my laziness. Enough of that! Today is a new day.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Churches, Associations, and Conventions

The Sr. Adult Focus was a great time today. Thanks to the Pulaski Baptist Association (sponsor) and Calvary Baptist Church (host). Great things happen with churches work together! That’s what associations and conventions do: provide opportunity to do more together than we could do separately.


From missions and ministry to fellowship and worship, getting together with other churches is worthwhile. Be looking for another opportunity to get together with Cross Road Baptist Church, Holly Springs Baptist Church, and Martindale Baptist Church this Fall. We are planning a Fall Event that will include all age groups in worship, preaching, and fellowship spanning over five days. I believe God will do great things during these days!


Our partnership with TeamSOAR is Russia is possible because of our cooperative work through the Southern Baptist Convention. Please continue praying for a church plant in Talitsa where there is no Baptist work and very few evangelical Christians. CRBC, TeamSOAR, and other SBC churches will impact Talitsa and increase the Kingdom.


This week, a group of eleven from CRBC took a daytrip to Hope to visit the Hope Migrant Mission Center. Arkansas Baptists provide this great ministry to migrant farm workers traveling between the Rio Grande River valley and northern states to work in agriculture. These travelers can get clothing, snacks, and personal hygiene products. They can also relax and play while there. Great ministry led by Bob Williford and supported by CRBC and other churches of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.


Cooperation is a hallmark of Southern Baptists. I’m glad we are part of the cooperative effort!

Saturday, July 18, 2009


I’m watching the TV show called Wipeout on ABC. I’ve seen the commercials but this is the first episode I’ve seen. So funny! People go through obstacle courses and most of them end up in the mud or water several times. There’s no way I could do it!


Real life is hard, too. Lots of obstacles and enemies trying to knock us off course and into the mud. But it’s not a game. It’s real. Satan is roaming the earth looking for those he can devour. And he’s good at it. He attacks us at home or at work, at school or with our friends. Too many Christians take hard shots every day.


So what’s the answer? The apostle Peter wrote that we have to be alert, look to the example of other believers, and trust the Lord. Those are not the easiest steps to take but they are guaranteed. I don’t understand why we want to try something easier or shortcut the truth. Try the right way instead of the shortcuts.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Technology is rapidly advancing and changing how our world works. I can't seem to get enough of it. Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, website...

Saturday, July 04, 2009

World Famous Pancakes

The non-custodial dad has to find a way to make his four days a month count. Thus the evolution of the World Famous Pancakes. It’s a secret recipe full of hope. “I hope these turn out!” is always on my mind.

It’s probably not the pancakes themselves that are World Famous but rather the experience. The boys rarely saw Dad do much that was just for them. Don’t get me wrong, almost everything I did was just for them, they just didn’t see it. But they saw and helped on Saturday mornings – excuse me, on every-other-Saturday mornings – and a tradition was born. Perhaps I should say a tradition was borne.

A Dad will do just about anything to see his kids smiling and happy. I hope they also caught the flare and the style and the story. World Famous Pancakes are not just “breakfast,” but are really an event at the Loyd household. One of my high callings in life is that of family man; so I take this pretty seriously. And I hope I have passed along the important lesson that kids deserve a great Dad no matter what the circumstances may be. I hope I measure up.

Speaking of “measuring up,” I will now release my secret recipe for World Famous Pancakes. Nah!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Too Much of Self

You've noticed the same thing that I have noticed...people think too much of themselves. I am not advocating self-deprecation because thinking too little of yourself is just as bad. Balance! Balance is the key!

The Bible says that a person ought not think too highly of himself and should consider others first (Romans 12:10 and Philippians 2:3). When a person is so inwardly focused that all he can think about or talk about is himself, his accomplishments, or his ideas, he neglects others. A selfish or prideful spouse neglects the other spouse. The parent neglects the child. A friend neglects another. And so on.

The answer to pride, arrogance, and selfishness is humility. I like to think of humility as having a good understanding of who I am compared to who God is. None of us can get too puffed up when we see that comparison clearly. When I've gotten a little (or a lot) puffed up God has always done something to help me see him more clearly - because I have lost my vision of God's majesty.

When I see God more clearly and I see me more clearly I also will see others and their needs and value more clearly. Some people help others for selfish reasons, but the only motive God approves is that of Christian love expressed in humility. If I think too highly of myself I can't do that.

But I can't think too lowly of myself either. Because God's Spirit dwells within me (and every believer) I have great resource and ability. In fact, I'm able to do beyond my ability because of him. He strengthens me. He applies me - he uses me.

God thinks enough of me to die for me and save me. He thinks enough of me to equip me with gifts. He think enough of me to give me a task. If God thinks that much of me, then I must not thik too lowly of myself.


Jesus, the God-man, said this, "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does." (John 5:19)

We are not God-men, but we are men and women who have God's Spirit within us. So a healthy, biblical perspective is one of balance.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Have you heard about Twitter? I noticed on Facebook that some folks were posting via Twitter so I started looking around for it and found it at So now I'm on Twitter at so come on board and follow me. I'll probably follow you, too.

There's an application for my Blackjack II that helps me keep up with what's on Twitter. It's called Twikini. Now wherever I am I can access Twitter and see what's going on with those that I follow. I can also post a new "tweat" from my smart phone. It's pretty easy and a great tool. There are lots of applications for your smart phones; I'm just learning about them and hope to find more neat ones like Twikini. Find it at

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Hurry up and wait! That's what we are doing this afternoon at Baptist Med Center. Jim is ready to go home; just waiting on the paper work.
I'm ready to go home, too. To heaven. But it must not be time because I'm still here waiting. Like Paul, I see my time waiting as time to do something productive for the kingdom.
So while I'm waiting I'll stay busy for the Lord. That's more than Jim's doing here at the hospital..he's just waiting to go home.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Church Sign

Are you like me? Do you read the church signs as you drive through town or down the highway? I do. I like the funny ones but I really like the signs that are able to capture a deep theological truth in just a few lines.

I've written a few Christian songs and find it difficult but rewarding to say in three minutes something that is eternally true. Writing the good church signs is even harder. You must be biblically accurate, interesting, and short!

Driving down the road today going into Bryant I saw this:

The Bible is neither ancient nor modern, it is eternal.


Those are a lot of letters up there! Cross Road Baptist Church (CRBC) is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). There is a movement among some leadership to have a Great Commission Resurgence (GCR). I’ve read the document at and have signed on to it because I agree with the tenets laid out in it. Johnny Hunt, SBC president and pastor in the Atlanta area, is one of the main drivers behind GCR. I like Johnny Hunt as a preacher and a person (based on what little, very little, interaction I’ve had with him).

But many do not like his “attack” on the convention bureaucracy and have become very vocal in these days leading up to the annual meeting to be held in Louisville, KY on June 23-24. I’m sorta glad that CRBC scheduled Vacation Bible School (VBS) for that week so I have an excuse not to be there for the fireworks. But I’m sorta gonna miss the fireworks!

Whenever a finger is pointed toward someone with a bit of criticism, people pointed to tend to get defensive. I understand that. What I don’t understand is the tone of the rhetoric being thrown around. The general media will have a heyday with this as they try to find ways to make the social conservatism of the SBC look bad. We (the SBC, generally) think that abortion, homosexuality, gay marriage, to name a few issues on the front burners these days, are biblical. And if not biblical, then wrong. So anytime national exposure of problems within the SBC can be overexposed, the media will do it.

Christianity is being marginalized in our society. I read today that North America is the only continent where Christianity is not growing. Why is that? Partly, it is because evangelical denominations, like the SBC, won’t focus on what is most important: spreading the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ alone. Another reason for the stagnation of Christianity on our continent is that many formerly-strong denominations are allowing the culture to define their morality/ethic rather than the Bible. This is why the SBC and churches like CRBC take a hit when we speak out for decency and human life and the one-man/one-woman marriage issue.

The GCR is an attempt – a good-faith attempt, I believe – to focus our convention on what really matters. That is not saying that we are completely off focus and that every entity is at fault and that each church is missing the mark. But it is to say that the task of the Great Commission is so important that we should be willing to turn the magnifying glass toward ourselves and change what should be changed and champion what we are doing well.

Let me give you three more letters.

A – admit you are a sinner and repent of your sins.

B – believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and what he did on the cross is the only way you can receive forgiveness for you sins and gain eternal life in heaven.

C – confess that Jesus Christ is your Savior and Lord and commit to live your life in a way that embodies that confession.

Thursday, June 04, 2009


I spent 10 days on a trip to Talitsa, Sverdlovskaya, Russia. Talitsa is town. Sverdlovskaya is an oblast (state). My wife, Deana, and another couple from our church, Ed and Shirley Meux, went with me.

I had been to Russia last year to lead a pastor’s Bible conference. While I was there, I learned of the need for a Baptist church in Talitsa and of some specific prayer needs of a few believers there. So our church has been praying for over a year for them. Good news! The prayers have been effective as the situations these believers were experiencing have improved. We weren’t even praying for the specific problems because we thought the needs were different. This is just an example of the Holy Spirit taking our earnest prayers and directing his power to the real needs. God is so good!

I’ll post pictures and my journal soon. Til then, just know that God is at work everywhere on the planet. Even in your life. Leave a comment if I can pray with you about something in your life or talk with you about a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Monday, May 18, 2009

I'm ashamed to admit it...

Tonight I saw the best and worst of baseball and people. The opposing team had one player who was afraid to take his turn at bat. The team took an automatic out each time his spot in the batting order came up. We had two outs on them and his turn was next. The game was sorta close and there was no way the coaches were going to accept an automatic out.
The kid's name is David, #21. He stood in the box almost visibly trembling. The first pitch was at the bill of his helmet but he swung at it. The next pitch wasn't much better and he swung at it, too. The third pitch was below his knees but he made good contact as he gratuitously waved at it with his bat. A sharp hit ball to shortstop was fielded cleanly. The good throw to first secured the third out.
I cheered for David more loudly than I cheered for our team retiring the side.
Two boys on our team taunted David during his at bat.
The Bible teaches that we are to lift up others and think of them as highly or more highly than we think of ourselves. Taunting an opposing player - especially one like David who was scared of getting hit by a wild pitch - is totally out of line. Who cares if the 8-9 yr old team is on the verge of winning only the second game of the season! What matters is that these kids learn the game and learn to love the game.
David made great progress tonight. At least two on our side of the diamond made an error.

Reaching Talitsa

I’m excited about the trip to Russia. Just two more days then we are gone for ten. The team from Cross Road Baptist Church in Little Rock includes Ed and Shirley Meux, and my wife Deana and me. The tentative schedule – everything is tentative on the mission field, I’ve learned – is to have a couple of days in Ekaterinburg for orientation to the Russian culture then travel to smaller towns where there is virtually no evangelical presence. The goal is to talk with the one believer in Talitsa and try to discern what God is doing there and how our church can partner with this believer and another church a couple of hours away to reach the city for Christ. Long-term, we hope to plant a Baptist church there.


We may also be involved in similar projects in other small communities where there are no evangelical churches. Sounds like the book of Acts, doesn’t it! Pray that we will follow the Acts model: much prayer and excellent obedience. Wouldn’t you like to know that people halfway around the world can experience the impact of a relationship with Jesus Christ?


I am praying for the Spirit to show us how to be involved in the eastern part of Sverdlovskaya oblast (state). I am also praying that this focus on God’s Spirit will also guide our church in Little Rock into revival and greater community ministry. So much of the technology we enjoy today was developed for our use by the military or the space program – things learned far away change our near community. I’m hoping the same thing happens with regard to evangelism and missions. May the Lord’s work through us in a faraway place initiate his freedom to work in us at home.


Impacting Eternity Now