Tuesday, June 24, 2014

VBS 2014

This week is VBS week at Cross Road Baptist Church. We are using LifeWay's Agency D3 material.

VBS requires a lot of volunteers and we have the best! I need to brag on them a little. We've had 52 kids enrolled so far; youth and adults are doing a great job keeping up with them and teaching about Jesus.

Here are the volunteers:

Angie Andrews - 5th/6th grade Bible study leader
Juanita Criswell - recreation leader
Nick Criswell - recreation helper
Sibyl Davis - records
Raven Dillard - 1st grade Bible study helper
Seth Dillard - 3rd/4th grade Bible study helper
Joyce Garrett - snacks helper
Theresa Hinkson - 3rd/4th grade Bible study leader
Deana Loyd - crafts leader
Riley Loyd - 2nd grade Bible study helper
Marcia Justice - music leader
Melissa Lumpkin - music helper
Karson Lumpkin - 1st grade Bible study helper
Gwen McCallister - 2nd grade Bible study leader
Shirley Meux - 1st grade Bible study leader
Pat Mitchell - snacks helper
Betty Smith - snacks leader
Anne White - 3rd/4th grade Bible study helper
Judy Wood - missions leader

So the week is going smoothly. Everyone is prepared and excited. They've loved on the kids and shown them what it means to follow Jesus.

I'm looking forward to the next three days for more of the same!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Communicate Clearly in Conflict

Let me get this out in the open early: I don't like conflict. Those who claim they do must be sick. As a matter of fact, sometimes conflict makes me sick. I used to avoid conflict but I'm better at addressing it now. I'm not good at it, just better than I was.

Conflict occurs when two or more parties have a difference of opinion. Conflict is not necessarily negative but can get there in a hurry. So you better communicate clearly, early, and often.

I spoke with a church member yesterday about making a visit to her home today. We made the appointment and I went on about my business. About an hour later I received a call from someone else reminding me of our appointment at the same time for today. I had created a conflict on my schedule.

I've noticed that many conflicts I get into are of my own making. Maybe I insinuate something I didn't mean to insinuate. Or I was just afraid to state my opinion or desire. And then there are times when I just don't fully know what my position is on a topic.

That's basically what happened with the conflicting appointments: I wasn't aware of all I needed to know. Many times, conflict can be avoided by knowing what you should know before making a statement or a promise.

Then there are those times when conflict arises because of attitudes. Someone is snarky. Another person is easily offended. This guy is bullheaded. That woman is condescending. It's hard to have civil conversations when attitudes stink. A little respect and kindness and humility go a long way in heading off conflict before it starts or resolving conflict once it's going.

I called the church member back as soon as I got off the phone with the first appointment-maker. I apologized and asked if Thursday at the same time would be OK. She said it would. That wasn't a conflict where anyone was mad or speaking hateful words but the process of dealing with a small conflict in scheduling is about the same as dealing with the big stuff.

Keys to resolving conflict include loving the other person enough to be fair and honest with them, having enough humility to admit your own mistakes, communicating clearly to aid understanding, and realizing that some people would rather argue than resolve.

What would you add to this list of keys?

Monday, June 09, 2014

We Shall Come Rejoicing Bringing In The Sheaves

Remember the hymn from your childhood (or earlier!) called "Bringing in the Sheaves"? A friend of mine says that every time he heard in the church he grew up in it sounded like a funeral dirge. Yes, farming is hard work and harvesting by hand must have been great labor. But the song talks about sowing the gospel and reaping a harvest of those who accept Jesus as Savior and Lord. "We shall come REJOICING bringing in the sheaves!"

The idea of rejoicing while bringing in the sheaves comes from Psalm 126. The writer starts by reminding his kinsmen how joyful they were after they returned to Jerusalem from exile in Babylon. They had been exiled because they strayed from God's commands. While in exile they returned to the Lord and the Lord brought them home. It must have been an exciting time. They were full of joy and hope.

But the middle of the psalm holds the writers cry to God to bring them back to the time of joy and hope. He wrote the psalm after enough time had passed since being released from exile that the people had grown complacent with the freedom and restoration God had provided. Can you hear the godly man crying, "God, take us back to that time of refreshing"?

God responds with a simple reply: "If you want to return to the joy and hope you once knew you will have to sow in tears." In other words, they must repent of their sins. Repentance was the key to renewal after exile. Repentance was the key to renewal after complacency. Repentance is the key to your own renewal. If you are not walking as closely with the Lord as you once did, repentance opens the avenue to restored joy and hope that is missing in your life now.

Then God adds a statement that speaks of his mission in this world. Those who have repented and experienced the joy are then sent with a bag of seed (the gospel) to share with others. Do you remember the story Jesus told about the farmer who scattered seed among the different types of soil? We are to sow the gospel among all those who do not know Jesus as Savior. We must have a burden that all will hear the Good News. If we are faithful to spread our bag of seed we can be assured the joy of knowing people will follow Jesus and escape the punishment of hell for their sins.

Do you remember a time when you confessed your sins and repented of them? Remember how liberated you felt? Remember the joy and peace that swept over you? Remember what it was like to be so "right" with God? But have you drifted away by sin into complacency or busyness? Those who sow in tears will reap in joy! You can know that nearness again. And you can help others come to or return to the Lord, too.