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.