Monday, June 28, 2010

Day 1 of VBS

We had a great start to VBS last night. We usually start on Monday, end on Friday, and have Family Night the next Sunday. But this year we decided to start on Sunday with Day 1 and Family Night rolled into one. I think it was a success. We have 36 children registered and expect more to come today and tomorrow.

Jeff Deckard with Cowboy Up for Christ Ministry shared his testimony and the gospel with the help of his Palomino “Little Man.” Jeff compared the relationship he has with “Little Man” to that which God has with us. Obedience. Trust. Sacrifice. His message was good for all ages. You can find out more information about Cowboy Up for Christ Ministry at the website.

The Bible study for Day 1 centered on creation. Did you know that you (and all humanity) are God’s greatest creation? That’s the truth and I can praise him for that! God is good.

Friday, June 11, 2010

SBC Just a Few Days Away

I’m just a few hours away from leaving for the SBC in Orlando. Pretty excited about it for a few reasons. But bummed for one: Deana and Riley don’t get to go. We started out two years ago trying to save money for this trip but never accumulated enough. We don’t save very well so just a few unexpected expenses along the way wiped us out. We are now saving for a trip to the Grand Canyon next year when the SBC is in Phoenix. Praying that this works out better for us.

Now for the positives. First, messengers to the convention will hear recommendations from the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force that was assembled after the 2009 meeting. I have been supportive of a Great Commission Resurgence from the beginning a little over a year ago. I’ve also been vocal with my critique, both positive and negative. I think someone Tweeted about me a few days ago. At least, the tweet made me think twice before speaking so boldly. I think my comments were valid; maybe a bit emotionally energized. I am ready to vote for the Task Force recommendations and expect great opportunities for me, my church, and my denomination.

Second, I am traveling with five pastor-friends. This should be a blast! No telling what will happen along the way with the likes of Danny Johnson, Lary Tidball, and John Watt on board. It will be up to Larry Walters, Tom Strike, and me to provide balance and sanity.

Third, I need energized. I’ve worked in organizations with hundreds of other people and managed a team of more than a dozen while also indirectly overseeing distant locations. I’ve owned my own retail company. I’ve been in positions of great responsibility and positions requiring manual labor. But being a single staff pastor is the most draining task I have ever undertaken. This is not a bad thing and I’m not complaining, but I need to hear the messages and reports that will be part of the SBC. I get very few opportunities to be the listener; I’m usually the speaker. This will be a great week of participating in a different way that always serves to energize me for my calling as pastor of CRBC.

Though the SBC probably won’t cycle back to Orlando for several years, I have moved to the front burner a trip to Disney World for Deana, Riley, and me. We have to save better this time and I need to lose some weight so I will fit in the roller coaster cars. Would you pray for me about that?

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Weary of GCRTF Stuff

My inbox gets crowded with stuff for and against the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force recommendations that will be presented next week at the Southern Baptist Convention in Orlando. Quite frankly, I’m tired of it. Luckily, the convention is soon and the issue will be decided.

But I really don’t think the rhetoric will die down. My circle of pastor-friends is divided. I suspect that is true across the convention. And if it is, then the vote next week won’t really settle anything.

Those who are promoting the recommendations make me believe that they think there is no other solution to issues facing the convention and that many young pastors and their churches will leave the convention if this doesn’t pass.

Those who are against the recommendations make me believe that they think change is the worst way to approach the issues facing the convention.

I like the idea of emphasizing world evangelization and admit my failure to put forth my best effort. I can do much better personally and leading my church in this area.

I like the idea of emphasizing unreached areas of North America even if that means I have less denominational support for my traditional Bible-belt church.

I like the idea of reducing bureaucracy in a denomination that claims to be a convention of churches rather than a top-to-bottom hierarchy.

I like the idea of allowing those who specialize in training missionaries for cross-cultural ministry to do so even if that blurs or eliminates previous lines of authority.

I like the idea that more of my church’s CP dollars go to outside-Arkansas Southern Baptist entities. I’ve never considered designating those dollars and probably would not consider it regardless of the outcome of the vote. But I would like to know that Arkansas Baptists are being the best stewards possible.

What I do not like is the perception (mine) that some SBC leaders want to improve their SBC giving by creating nomenclature to disguise this truth: they will spend no more on missions than they currently do. Why the high pressure on this issue? It must be embarrassing to run for a national SBC office and have it published that your church does not support CP very well.

From the beginning I’ve been surprised at the response from both sides. Some seem offended that someone would question their stewardship. But I get correspondence regularly from SB entities encouraging me to be a good steward. Even had a guy imply my church is not really giving what we claim we give to CP because we don’t know the math necessary for preparing a budget.

And then the proponents of the task force recommendations want me to believe that their solution is the one and only solution that will fix the problems within our convention.

I love the Southern Baptist Convention. We do a good job of preparing men and women for ministry. We have a system of financial support for missionaries that has no comparison. We value all people and want them to hear the gospel and know Jesus as Savior and Lord. We cooperate as autonomous churches.

I’m all for a Great Commission Resurgence. I preach it. I believe we must get back to the Great Commission. I am pressing my church to be a missions outpost with global impact. This is the focus of my doctoral project. I’m committed to the idea.

But I’m weary of all the stuff in my inbox.

My church is small. Our missions dollars don’t total much. I wonder if my opinion will be as valued as they want me to believe my vote is.

Thursday, June 03, 2010


One of our church members passed away and her funeral was this week. As is customary, the family gave some of the flowers to the church to use in our services this weekend. We don’t keep the AC running in the building throughout the week so the only place to keep the flowers fresh is in my office.

I’m looking at an arrangement that is two feet wide and three feet tall. Pinks, purples, and greenery. Very pretty.

Had we left the arrangement in the sanctuary the heat would wilt the flowers by Sunday. Not very pretty. The one place where the flowers will stay fresh and pretty is in the office where I keep the temperature below 70 all the time!

You are not much different from the flowers. Kept under the right conditions you will flourish. Exposed to harsh conditions you will wilt.

What are the right conditions? Where is the temperature and humidity just right? In the presence of the Father! Just like the flower will wilt if not kept in my office, so you will wilt if you do not stay close to the Lord.

His love is refreshing.
His forgiveness is refreshing.
His counsel is refreshing.
His mercy is refreshing.

The flowers don’t have a choice – they sit where they are set.

You have a choice. Will you stay close to the Lord and thrive or will you wander and wilt?