Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Fourth Grade Testing

Riley is going into the fourth grade in just a couple of weeks. He went to K4 and K5 at Arkansas Baptist, then first grade at Lawson Elementary, then 2nd and 3rd grade at Chenal Elementary. We wish we could have kept him at Arkansas Baptist but my move from bivocational to fulltime pastorate came along with a pay cut so we couldn’t afford the tuition any longer. However, this year the school is giving pastors a substantial discount so Riley is headed back.

Today is the day he is tested (assessed, they call it) to determine where he is in comparison to where they think incoming fourth graders should be. He was a little ahead of the public school students when he went from private to public so I’m expecting he’ll be a little behind going back into the private school system. Two of Riley’s years in public school were excellent; one year was not so much. Fortunately, that down year was not last year. He made up some ground in third grade that he had lost in second grade.

His mama is more nervous about the testing than Riley is. But it is what it is. Wish I had made him read more this summer. And work on his multiplication tables. Did you know they don’t call it that anymore? What I learned as “multiplication tables” Riley learned as “math facts.” A sign of the times? People aren’t interested in tables of information anymore, just give ‘em the facts as quick and concise as possible. Maybe it’s just that two syllables is easier than seven.

I just reconnected with a friend from fourth grade on Facebook. Tod Riley was at Dardanelle for just one year but he and I were good buddies. The playground had an old tree trunk (huge) laying on it. It was the favorite play place and meeting place. Tod and I spent lots of time there. I hope Riley makes friends and memories in fourth grade like that.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Looking Out My Window

I am sitting at the dining room table looking through the blinds into the front yard. The house is close to the road and we have a circle drive so there is not much grass in this part of the yard. What I can see are two wooden planters, three pine trees (my father-in-law calls this place “Three Pines Estates”), the road and beyond. Not much on this hot summer day except the weeds in the planters blown about by the dry, hot, summer wind.

So I’m reflecting on Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus recorded in John 3.

“The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

God’s Spirit is always around us, within us. God’s ways are higher than our ways so he is often up to things we don’t know about or understand. Even our own salvation is hard to understand.

Another glance out the window and it seems the wind has stopped. But staring a little long I see slight movement in the planters. So it is with God. Sometimes a quick glance into our lives and we think God has stopped. But if you’ll spend a little time seeking for the Lord you will find he is at work.

The wind is sometimes refreshing. Sometimes the wind blows things out of the way. Sometimes it brings rain that cleanses the air.

Looking out my window reminds me of God’s presence in my life.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


We have a hummingbird feeder on the front porch. I can see it as I sit at the table working. An interest thing is taking place: the birds are sitting on the perches of the feeder while they sip the homemade Kool-Aid. They just sit there. I’ve never seen them just sit there.

All the hummingbirds I have ever seen have been flapping their wings at super speeds. Even while they sip the Kool-Aid. I’ve never seen a hummingbird sit on the perch.

I wonder why the bird known for its rapid wing movement would sit still. Apparently, the constant flapping doesn’t hurt them or tire them. So why rest?

Pretty good question to ask each of us. We are so used to the rapid lifestyle we lead that stopping or resting never crosses our minds. Sure, we say we need a day to relax or we take vacations to get away from it all, but we never really slow down. It’s true, isn’t it? When was the last time you slowed down or stopped long enough to rest for an extended period of time?

It’s been a while for me. I’ve had business trips, ministry weeks, camps, and stuff. I have weekly deadlines for sermons and publications. Today is July 20 and I thought 2010 just started.

So the lesson of the hummingbird is strange but important. We need to slow down. Stop. Relax. Enjoy what God has provided for us.

Down Time

It’s been hectic these past few weeks. Homecoming. SBC in Orlando. Fathers Day. PBA Day Camp. VBS. July 4. Picnic at the Parsonage. Siloam Camp. Sunday Evening Outreach. I’m behind schedule on the normal things around the house and office. So, “no rest for the weary,” right?

Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

Easier said than done. But better done than ignored. So I’m taking it easy this week. Still going to the office. Still making the rounds a pastor makes. Just spending a little less time doing all that and more time with the Lord.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Home from Siloam

Cross Road Baptist Church made a huge philosophical shift this week. We took kids to camp. Several years have passed since the church has taken kids to a week-long summer camp. I’ve heard lots of reasons why but I can’t accept any as valid since camp is so great a tool for evangelism and discipleship – the heartbeat of the Christian church. CRBC is headed in a good direction. We have a core group of kids who are excited about camp – that’s not been the case in a long time here. We have leaders who believe in Siloam. That’s a fresh attitude, too. And the commitment to Siloam will get stronger each year.

Now, here’s a little info about this year’s camp. Riley, McKenzie, Isaac, Tripp, and Brittany made up a great group of campers. Some of them and some of their families were a little apprehensive last weekend but this weekend is so much different. Siloam does that to people. I attended the children’s park with four of the students. Gwen McCallister attended the youth park with Brittany. All of us had a great time highlighted by vibrant worship, biblical preaching, new relationships, and HOT weather! Plus record rainfall for a week of camp. More than 5 inches of rain fell on Monday night and another strong (but short) storm came through the camp Thursday night. The creek was rolling most of the week.

Both the boys’ cabin (B-14) and the girls’ cabin (G-13) won a daily honor for cleanest cabin. It’s not just that our cabins were cleaner than the others, which would not be a hard accomplishment to achieve, but the cabins were actually very clean. Good job, guys and gals. Thank you.

A new game called Ga-Ga Ball captured the boys’ attention. I call it Goo-Goo Ball because some of the players acted like babies when they were forced out of the game. It’s a fast-pasted game something like dodge ball. I’m sure the boys will talk about it…a lot!

This year’s theme is “Search and Rescue.” And the memory verse is “For the son of man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). Some people are just plain lost and need help. Others (believers) may be off course and struggling to find their way. They need help. Jesus came for them and for us. Let’s join him on the greatest search and rescue mission ever. Siloam is an important piece of the puzzle.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Praying in Faith

A few days ago Ken Whitten posted this on Twitter and I retweeted and sent to Facebook.

Faith is the bucket of power lowered by the rope of prayer into the well of God's abundance. What's down in the well, comes up in the bucket.”

A friend on Facebook made a great comment asking a question about a situation many of us have faced.

“And when the bucket comes up empty anyway? What does that tell you?”

I am posting my response here in hopes that maybe it will help you when you pull up an empty bucket.

The key to praying in faith is to persistently seek God's desires. I've prayed for things I've wanted and the bucket has come up empty. God doesn't fill my wish list but gladly and generously gives me what he desires that I have. The Bible refers to that as praying according to his will.

Another key is to realize that God desires a right relationship with us most of all. I've had to ask for forgiveness for things that have stood between God and me before I could experience all the other things.

And sometimes all that is good but it's just not yet God's timing. From my perspective, I pray thinking now is the right time. God sees my life from his eternal perspective so he knows when is the best time.

Paul Overstreet wrote a song 20 years ago that says, "Keep praying til the answer comes."

Three hindrances to effective praying are selfishness, sinfulness, and stopping. We are to pray according to God’s will and in so doing we won’t pray selfishly but seeking his greater desires. Sin can hinder our praying so we are to confess our sin, which is more important to God, so that we can talk with him about other things. Persistence is important in prayer – not in order to change God’s mind by pestering him but by agreeing with him about the importance of the thing we are praying for – so we cannot stop praying until we get the answer.

A man in my church is so confident in the Lord that he prays about it and leaves it in God’s hands. I agree with that and don’t want to imply that we must pray constantly about this one thing. Instead, we pray until we have confidence that the Lord will do what we are praying for. So we pray until we no longer pray selfishly. We pray until our prayers are obstructed by our sin. And we keep praying until the answer comes.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Thoughts on "The Decision"

The LeBron James spectacle is nowhere near over. Dan Patrick said on his radio show yesterday that the American culture created the atmosphere for such arrogance and selfishness. The loss of Christian values across the landscape of America is evident. “I’m going to take my talents…” Who does LeBron think he is? Who snickered with approval when he practiced that line?

I’m not a fan of the NBA so I’ve not seen him play very much and I won’t tune in any more often because of this. Some might say that I have no dog in this hunt because of that. But the greater loss or gain is not about basketball but about what is acceptable human behavior.

No doubt about it, LeBron can and should make his own decision. But narcissism has received another grand endorsement. Like we needed that.

Now here’s a better decision: accepting Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord and yielding to his Spirit to guide all you do.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

What Kind of Dad Am I?

I wonder sometimes what kind of Dad I am. I have three boys and I’ve never been fishing with them. One of the best memories I have of my dad is fishing with him below the dam on the Arkansas River at Dardanelle. Can I be a good dad and not go fishing with my boys?

Time lost is never regained. The years of being a non-custodial parent living at least 125 miles away have taken their toll. I am praying for God’s guidance in restoring and recapturing what has been lost and damaged. I want to be a good dad.

So what kind of Dad am I? I am one who loves his children and wants the best for them. I am one who is proud of his sons. I am one who wants their lives to center around Jesus Christ. I am one who wants to spend time with his sons. I am one who thinks his sons can accomplish anything.

Friday, July 02, 2010

With or Without Opposition

I’m watching Riley play a baseball game on the Wii. He is using the 2-player setting but just playing by himself. When he’s pitching the other remote is laying in the floor beside him. When he’s batting he pushes the button to pitch a fastball down the middle. Then he hammers a home run. The score is 15-0 with no out in the bottom of the 1st inning. He’s getting bored.

As fun as winning a baseball game is, doing it with no effort isn’t much fun.

The Bible describes the Christian life as a battle against evil spiritual forces. We are assured of victory when we trust in the Lord but the battles are always hard-fought. I wonder if we appreciate what the Christian life offers. Or do we get bored. Or do we miss the joy.

Although we have opposition, we can still have joy. And even when the Lord is taking care of our battles behind the scenes we shouldn’t get bored.

The score is now 29-0. He’ll quit soon.

Don’t quit on Jesus. He won’t quit on you.

Rest for the Weary

June has become the most physically demanding month on the calendar for this pastor. And nobody is to blame but myself.

Our church is associated with the Pulaski Baptist Association. PBA hosts a Day Camp for 1st-6th graders each year in June. We are also a Southern Baptist Church and the annual meeting for the SBC is in June. Those events are scheduled well in advance and I want to participate in both.

But then I asked our Vacation Bible School director to move VBS from July (the traditional time for it at CRBC) to June because I think we’ll have better participation and impact. We’ve done this the past three years.

So June is jammed full. The only week not scheduled with an event is the first week of the month and school is not yet out by then.

Here I sit on July 2. VBS ended yesterday. A three-week run of physically demanding events is over. I’m tired.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)