Friday, May 28, 2010


The oldest member of our congregation passed away last night. Lena turned 97 on March 15. Not only was she the oldest member but she was one of the longest-tenured members having been a charter member of Cross Road Baptist Church at its founding in 1971.

I’ve heard stories about her from family and church friends that tell of her feisty demeanor. But I only knew her as one who loved the Lord, longed to attend the church, and thought the world of her family. The only stern words she ever had for me were, “Why haven’t you come to see me?” after she had been in the hospital for a couple of days before I made the visit. But she said those words with a smile on her face: she was glad to see her pastor.

It’s an honor to be someone’s pastor. I’m told (and I believe it) that you are the preacher when you first come to a church, then a pastor after at least five years, and finally a leader after a few more years. But I think Lena considered me her pastor and I’ve only been at CRBC for three and a half years.

For someone who was 97 and had been a member in one church for 39 years (almost exactly) and had been a Christian for many more years to call me her pastor, well that’s a great honor. I will gladly speak at her funeral and talk about her stubborn ways and her loving attitude and her legacy of family she has left behind her and the impact felt by CRBC.

A disease may have hastened her death but the hope of scripture is that she (and all of us, too) entered the presence of the Lord at the very moment her earthly body died. And in his presence there is no sickness or pain or sorrow or tears or dying. Only life and worship and joy. Forever.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Something From Nothing

From where I sit I can see two of Riley’s projects. One is complete – he found it in the bottom of his backpack this weekend. The other is due tomorrow. One is some kind of candle or reflector, I guess. The other is a diorama (I just learned that word, too, so don’t feel bad) of a cave – a topic they’ve been studying in school.

What catches my eye is the materials used to create these things. A box that once held bags of potato chips. A cardboard spool that once held paper towels. Marbles, rocks, stickers, construction paper. All held together with glue and tape.

Honestly, I don’t remember making stuff like this when I was in school and I turned out just fine. My fortune cookie said, “You have an active mind and a keen imagination,” thank you very much!

I guess this is one way to recycle.

Riley has made ocean scenes, a castle, and countless smaller displays and projects. Takes a lot of stuff to do that.

The Bible says that God created the heavens and the earth and everything in them. He did it without raw materials and supplies. He just did it. Spoke it into existence. Wouldn’t that be cool? “Cave diorama, be complete!” I don’t have that kind of power. That’s one of the reasons I’m not God.

I’m glad God is God.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Swing, Batter, Swing

Our boys are starting to swing the bats. And that’s a good thing. The Red Roc Rockets (ages 10 and under) are nine boys who have a pretty good time at the ballpark. Their record is 12-3 (I think, not counting a 2-2 tournament record). They have won most of their games by simply outscoring the other team. Obviously. But specifically, by taking advantage of wild pitches and stealing all the way around to score.

They have not hit very well. The losses have come when the other teams’ pitchers weren’t very wild. Without the runs from stealing home, the Rockets have been a weak team.

But the bats are waking up! Just in time for post season tournament, too. That’s when the pitching will be a little better so we’ll need to get runs the old fashioned way – by hitting the ball.

We (the Dads) have noticed that when one or two players get a walk the next few batters just look for a walk, too. Getting them to swing at the ball is a victory at times! Like I tell my son, more good things can happen when you hit the ball than when you get a walk.

In baseball, that’s called being aggressive. In life, it’s called being proactive.

As a Christian, I need to look for ways to bring glory to God rather than sit back passively waiting for a moment I can’t ignore. The children’s song says, “Praise Him in the morning, praise Him at the noontime…praise Him when the sun goes down.”

In other words, I need to swing the bat!

Friday, May 14, 2010

My Personal Arbitron Radio Ratings Diary

I am a fan of radio. I should have been born a generation or two earlier because I love listening to radio. Especially sports on radio. Not just sports talk shows, but the actual sporting event.

I once heard a story about a sportscaster from the radio-only days of baseball. He would sit in a studio waiting for the telegraph to spit out the news from a ballpark. He only received basic information like the lineups, line score, and box score. He took that information and created a broadcast for his listeners as if he was telling the story of the game live as it happened. He had sound effects for the crack of the bat! I have listened to many games mesmerized by the excitement in the voice of the announcer.

I the early- and mid-90s I spent everyone other Friday night and Sunday night picking up my boys and taking them back. The 120 minutes in the car with them is some of my best memories. I had to do a lot of fathering in just a few hours a month; I hope it made an impact. But for years I never saw a Super Bowl on TV. I would listen on the radio after dropping them off. Same with Monday night football because for many years I had classes in Little Rock and would listen to the game on the radio as I drove back to Russellville where I lived.

I’ve come to the point that I’d rather listen to a game on the radio than watch it on TV.

I love radio. Even worked in the business for a few years. I had a Southern Gospel music program. I was the “on air talent” at live remote broadcasts. I cut commercials and sold advertising. If I could have made a living at it I would probably still be involved in some way.

So with all this love for radio, I was finally selected to participate in an Arbitron survey. This is the company that monitors listening habits so that radio stations can prove they have a huge audience and justify the rates they charge for advertising.

Guess what all my listening diary contains. Sports. Sports talk. Baseball games. And a little Rush Limbaugh mixed in.

Do you have a bucket list? Mine includes calling games on the radio. The closest I’ve come is when I did the stadium PA for a PeeWee football game. I was in high school and we jocks had to work the game. Some were referees. Others made up the chain gang. I was the announcer. And I called it like I was on the radio! “Bye-bye, LeMasters!” as Brad scampered more than half the length of the field.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Fully Charged!

I lost the charger for my cell phone for a few hours Saturday. I looked in all the normal places at home but did not find it. I looked in the car but it was not there. I went to my office but it was not in my computer bag and was not plugged into the wall or USB slot in my laptop. I even walked from the church to the house looking for it on the ground.

Soon my phone was shut off due to lack of power in the battery. That’s an awful feeling – both the actual lose of power and the losing of power. Questions like this ran through my mind. Should I try to catch up on the Words with Friends games where it was my turn to play? Should a check email and voice messages one more time? Should I hurry to town to buy another charger? It was an awful feeling!

The Bible tells us in Acts 1:8 that the Holy Spirit is our power. He gives us strength and energy for living. He is constantly present to keep us charged.

But I sometimes get disconnected and lose power. I begin to feel the drain and it’s an awful feeling. I start selecting what I will and won’t do. What I consider priorities and urgent needs gets so out of whack. What I should do gets shoved aside while I use what power I have to accomplish meaningless things.

I doesn’t have to be that way. I should never lose power. There is no reason for it because the source of power lives within me. (Notice that I did NOT say the source of power WAS me.) God himself lives within me to constantly recharge and energize me. Anything less than 100% is my fault. I didn’t take time to pray. I let my daily Bible reading slip. I didn’t consider God in my decisions. I put other things above my Lord. And then I lose power.

Reverse these things and I maintain power. Pray. Read my Bible. Look to God for guidance. Put him above all things. Fully charged!

Oh, I found my charger on my desk in the church office. I had placed a stack of papers on top of it.