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.