Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Waynesville Church Fire

Hat tip to my blog and real life friend Karma for pointing to this video. Deacon chair of the church I serve called early this morning to pray for this situation. Our prayers are with Pastor Jack Holland and the membership and community surrounding Barberville Baptist Church.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Top Five Memories from School

SelahV (Mrs. V if you're a gentleman) invited me to participate in a meme at Karen's blog, Tried and True. The meme simply involved telling five memories from grade school. Karen is a school teacher and so this meme is of particular importance to her. i enjoyed the trip down memory lane so much, I didn't want to leave my responses in the comment thread, but thought I would share them with you all, too. Maybe you would like to participate, too. Drop a comment. My five, in no particular order:

#5--I am indebted to Matt Terrell. In the fifth grade he refused to rat me out. On the playground was a huge, upright slide with three twists in it. It stood a good twenty-five feet tall. You could surreptitiously stop in the first twist on the way down and STEP OUT of the slide and slide down the support beam. Matt got caught; I didn't. When the teacher asked if anyone else did, I stared at the floor--Matt wrote thirty pages and his parents grounded him for a month. I got off scot-free.

#4--I won first place in the egg-in-a-spoon race on field day in fourth grade.

#3--I sent Lisa Snyder a love note in third grade; she said she would be "friends" with me. I was elated! We buddied around for a few days; in eighth grade when I asked her to "go" with me, she told me she could do a lot better than me. :)

#2--In sixth grade, I wrote "I will not talk in Mrs. Smart's class so that I will not disturb the education of others" 750 times for Lisa Malone, who I had a crush on (I must've had a thing for girls named Lisa in grade school). It didn't help.

#1b--I wrote "I will not talk in Mrs. Smart's class so that I will not disturb the education of others" 750 times myself because shutting-up was a virtual impossibility. I wrote it again, 1000 times, a few weeks later. Stayed in every recess until I had it done, too.

#1a--When I was a senior, my sister brought a letter home to me. It was from my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Hall, who I dearly adored. Mrs. Hall had seen my sister get into my dad's four-wheel drive tow truck, jacked up on monster tires. The truck was named was named "El Bandito". Mrs. Hall recognized the truck and not knowing who my sister was, searched her out and then wrote and gave to her the letter to give to me. I wrote her back, telling her my future plans (though at that time ministry sure wasn't it). I still have her letter tucked away. I had hoped to correspond with her for a while longer, but teachers are a fairly busy lot.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Seeking that Communion Again

One of my favorite books is A Passion for Prayer by Tom Elliff. At one point the book had great influence upon me and I am yearning to regain the intimacy that I once experienced with my Savior. This is one of my favorite passages from Tom's hand (p. 39-40):
Within the great panorama of the Bible, certain individuals stand out becasue of their exceptional influence and effectiveness. We are so taken with their public lives that we often overlook the depth of their private commitments. The longer I live, the more convinced I become that the greatest work of God takes place in the private arena--the quiet place, the quiet time. There God waits for us in order to have sweet communion, resolve anguishing conflict, and bring about a remarkable conformity to His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

The brilliant light of a Roman candle streaks across the sky, evoking the pleasured exclamations of its audience. But it is quickly gone and forgotten, with no enduring impact. Will we settle for the applause of one great moment of public acclaim? Or will we seek the enduring influence that only comes when one is willing to develop the discipline of a quiet time and a quiet place--to regularly and consistently take time to sit at our Savior's feet to learn from Him?
I tend to be more like a Daniel, taking time throughout the day several times a day and praying at short intervals. Then at certain times during the week as I have time, I will retreat for time alone. I don't like the regimented, legalistic, check-off list style of the "quiet time" but prefer to be more casual and sometimes spontaneous--that works for me.

Friday, July 25, 2008

What is the Purpose of the Church?

Some say it is for worship--but I can worship with my family or a group of friends. My entire life is to be characterized by worship.

Some say it is for evangelism and missions. Jesus did come to "seek and to save that which was lost" after all. But, we have so many other organizations that are so much better at doing this than the church.

Some say it is for fellowship--but I have much deeper fellowship with my family and with my tight circle of friends than I do in the broader congregation. There is a much deeper level of accountability and prayer support there as well.

Some say it is for discipleship. I'm not persuaded this happens very much at all, much less at church.

Perhaps the question goes much deeper than relevance.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Simple Post

Yet profound. My thought for the day.
We need each other.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Going "Hmmm..."

Have you ever read a passage of Scripture that you have read numerous times before yet a certain verse, phrase, or sentence catches you and you think, "Wow, I don't think I remember reading that before?" That happened to me early this morning. I am reading through Matthew again and these verses were the unlikely culprits.
But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned. Matthew 12:36-37
Being a preacher, I understand the power of words and the necessity of choosing them carefully. However, do I apply this same principle in my own life, in the way I speak to family, friends, neighbors, the lost, and even on the blogs? Verse 36 is especially sobering; Jesus said we will give an accounting for EVERY word spoken. I'm not a fan of the "video-tape rollback" theory of how the judgment is going to be carried out, but if it has any merit, I will be watching with my head hung low, humiliated for a very long time.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Thinking about Discipleship

As the title suggests, my thoughts have been continually turned to the topic of discipleship lately. As I read Scripture, a book I have been reading, and a discussion or two in the blogosphere has turned my attention to discipleship. I am thinking primarily along the lines of how well a maker of disciples I am and notice myself coming up short. Plus, I'm asking some questions, more basic and fundamental than anything relatively deep right now.
  • What is a disciple?
  • How do I make disciples?
  • What does the Scripture say about discipleship?
  • How important is discipleship?
  • How can I lead the folks in the church I serve to become disciple makers?
In my Bible reading today, I read from Matthew 10. Verse 24 was especially convicting.
A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master.
This tied in really well with the slave/master thoughts I posted a few days ago to further lead my thinking. If I am going to make disciples, I myself need to be discipled.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Holy Club

"Church is a club."

I have heard that statement made numerous times and did not want to believe that it was true. The church often has a club mentality with dues, membership roster, roll call, taking of minutes, doing of "business," yet rarely a plenary session. The members are part of the club not for the benefit of the club itself but because of the vanity of its members. Being part of the club is something that looks good or makes the member of the club appealing because membership is based on what that club offers; this then becomes how the church also is evaluated.

The attitude of the Christians who are part of that church then becomes, "How do I make my church (club) appealing?" Hence, why many people will ride past eight to ten churches to get to the church that is "right" for them. I am not saying that it isn't right to find the church that fits. What I am saying is that this fosters an isolationist mentality that is neither healthy nor biblical.

Often clubs become an ideal place for bragging on one's accomplishments. Clubs can be mutual admiration societies, more concerned about how well one has done at a particular thing or preening over goals having been met. Rarely are struggles ever discussed because that would make one look ineffective or sub-standard--not worthy of the club. Struggles and pain are virtually non-existent in clubs, unless you're part of a club that celebrates failure.

I've never heard of one of those. Failure however is a very real part of life. I have failed on numerous occasions and I have also lived through making up for those failures. The fact is, the church isn't very welcoming to those who have failed. We need a Gospel that speaks to failure and a church willing to embrace people whose lives have been shattered by failure.

Lay down my life for someone else? Esteem someone better than me? Look out after another's interests rather than my own? Owe a debt of love to someone? Not in a club. The club is all about self-congratulation and self-aggrandizement. But the Christ that spent all calls us to spend all as well. That won't get us any accolades or pats on the back. Probably more suffering. Probably more heartache, and probably more tears.

Here is what is missing from churches: relationships. However, in our self-righteousness academies, we are too quick to point the fingers, assign blame, and start issuing the "bless his hearts" and allow the one who has failed to continue on in their failure--quite hypocritical. While we continue on, congratulating ourselves for how righteous we are and tickled that the "evil one has been purged from our midst."

One of the radical truths of the Gospel is that Christ is not so much a personal Savior, which we often emphasize (to the detriment of the Gospel itself), but a Savior of people. Individuals. With hopes, dreams, and failures. Placing the emphasis on Christ as a personal Savior leaves the potential believer with a sense of isolation--a sense of "what do I do next?" The marriage supper of the Lamb is not going to be a private affair.

But if we emphasize Christ as a Savior of people--real, live people, then the possibility of community exists--the possibility that someone will be with me in this. Someone who has failed cannot strike out on a new venture alone. They don't have the wherewithal. They need someone to commit to them in the same way Christ commits to them--sure, their eternity is secure, but what about the present? Not so much.

We all rejoice when the man who has failed miserably in life joins the church; when the mom who aborted her child makes a faith commitment to Christ; when the AIDS victim comes to the altar. Yet where are they in a few months? Christ is their portion, but no portion they have among the Body. The message that is often sent is one that Christ is your personal Savior and Christ can get dirty cleaning you up and fitting you for Body-life.

What then happens to that abandoned person when the time of testing and trial comes? Like the man who fell among thieves, he finds himself broken and bleeding hoping a Good Samaritan might come along.

My wife was in the hospital having had her third surgery in three months. Her back was sliced open, her kidney invaded, and an ultrasonic wand inserted to vibrate apart a stone the size of a quarter. But what a sad lesson we learned. Who from the church showed up to check on us? No one. Who followed up once we got home after two days of kidney spasms and muscle-relaxer induced stupor? Fixed a meal, offered to look after the kids? Not a soul.

We need each other. The Gospel is meant to be lived out in community. I want to conclude with this question: who out there is willing to walk with a heavily ladened, hurting person until healing comes in God's time? Who?

They will fall inevitably and we will lament, "Oh, what little faith so-and-so had!" "Oh, she must not have really been saved!" "How deceived the poor soul must have been!" "Bless her heart."

The question probably won't be, "Well, what did I do to keep this from happening?" That just demands too much.

What to do with Leftover Sunday School Literature

This is just too funny to pass up! Every pastor worth his salt has wondered what to do with the Sunday School literature once the quarter is over. I know most churches simply bunker the landfills with it though some are more conscientious--they take it to the local recycling center. However, here are a few good ideas, and #2 is JUST FUNNY!
2. Leave them in places where people read while they're doing something else. "Accidentally" leave a copy at the coffee shop. Leave copies on the magazine rack at the fitness center. In the seatback pocket on an airplane. Did I hear someone say the bathroom? Which reminds me of a story. One day, a group of Baptist women told me their husbands wouldn't read stuff from the church. I shared with them a wise truth: He'll read anything you leave in the bathroom.
Indeed!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Just Because I'm Seminary Educated...

...doesn't mean I am "in charge" of the church.

...doesn't mean I have the market cornered on truth.

...doesn't mean I am beyond sin.

...doesn't mean I have all things figured out.

...doesn't mean I am due any special privileges.

...doesn't mean I am above rebuke.

...doesn't mean I am led any differently than any other Spirit-filled believer.

...doesn't mean my opinion should be elevated above that of another believer.

...doesn't mean my opinion should be elevated above what the Bible actually says.

...doesn't mean I understand the Bible better.

...doesn't mean I deserve a title.

...doesn't mean my prayers are heard differently by God.

...doesn't mean I don't struggle.

...doesn't mean I cannot or will not stumble or fall.

...doesn't mean I shouldn't ask questions and work out my own salvation.

...doesn't mean my interpretations of the Bible are infallible.

...doesn't mean I should have a reserved parking space or be first in line.

...doesn't mean my wife should hold every capacity in the church that isn't filled.

...doesn't mean my children should be held to a higher standard than any other believing family's children.

...doesn't mean God favors me over anyone else.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

An Interesting Perspective on the "Slavery" Passages

I have read the "slavery" passages numerous times in the New Testament and have always wondered just what to do with them. They are Ephesians 6:5-9, Colossians 3:22-4:1, 1 Timothy 6:1-2, Titus 2:9-10, and 1 Peter 2:18-25.

I have been teaching through Titus during Wednesday evening Bible study and I came to 2:9-10 yesterday evening. After the first reading, I had initially relegated it to the "we'll give this a run-through" passage, kind of like an epistolary benediction or opening greeting. Of course, I then nearly concluded that, given that slavery is no longer a norm in American life, there is no real, ready application except in employee/employer relationships. That would be the natural place to go. However, as I really studied and prayed that God give me a fuller picture, this quote from a commentary caught my attention. And it changed my whole perspective on how to interpret these passages.
It is unfortunate that many teachers or preachers have applied Paul’s teaching on slavery in his epistles to the employer/employee relationship in modern economies. Such applications dilute the tremendous power of the Gospel as seen within the dark and unjust institution of slavery. The focus of Paul’s teaching with regard to Christian slaves must not be missed. Against the bleak hopelessness of this system of bondage, the Christian slave’s devotion to the Gospel and resulting godly attitudes and actions serve to make attractive in an unparalleled way the ultimate freedom that is only realized in Christ (Hayne, New American Commentary: 1,2 Timothy, Titus 308)
I taught Titus 2:9-10 completely different after reading and thinking through this quote and applied it to the sum total of the Christian experience; anywhere a Christian finds himself under authority. The slave-master relationship should characterize the Christian life and just as a Christian slave should yield unquestioning obedience to his master, so the Christian should yield unquestioning obedience to his Master, Jesus--and this characteristic will manifest itself in all relationships where a Christian is under authority--even to an unbeliever.

The Laughingstock of Waynesville

Well, maybe not the laughingstock, but this is still pretty funny. We have a large family compared to others and we have just simply outgrown our current mode of transportation. We had a Mercury Villager van and we were packed like sardines in a can. My oldest daughter was in the back seat between her sisters with both her hips touching her sisters' booster seats, not to mention sitting in only a lap belt.

I had to go back to Halifax County, VA for a funeral last week. The lady died suddenly and requested in her will that I officiate the funeral service. I took the whole family because we were all very close to her, spending the night in a motel. On the return trip, we passed through South Boston (VA, not MA) and my wife cried out, "Look!" On the used lot of Crowell Motor Company was a 2007 Ford Econoline E-350.

Yep; if you're thinking fifteen passenger, you would be right. We bought a fifteen passenger van. I originally wanted an eleven passenger, just because they are not quite so big and attention-grabbing. The equally funny part about the particular van we bought was that we were told that a church bought it originally, sold it back to the dealership and bought an eighteen passenger bus instead. The salesman could have kept that tidbit to himself, but I guess with a family my size and my being a pastor, he felt it was necessary. The salesman then suggested that we could even use the van for church functions. Sigh...

While living in VA, my wife's OB-GYN had seven kids and everyone made fun of them because they actually bought a used airport van. "Hey, look everyone, here come the Rosches!" Well, now I can hear everyone exclaiming, "Hey, look everyone, here come the Sisks!"It isn't that we didn't blend in well everywhere we went anyway, but now, we are plainly obvious to everyone. Oh well. I guess I have sacrificed image for safety and comfort.

(Our digital camera has been left in SC at our in-laws, so the picture is not our van; ours is a tan color, though the same body style.)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Our Aggressively Inarticulate Generation

I had a long conversation with a very good friend yesterday morning about a difficulty he has encountered at the church he serves and essentially it is a doctrinal matter. Doctrinal matters tend to express themselves in very real and practical ways in congregational life and we were talking about ways to handle what he has been dealing with. He made a statement that has become a problem not just in church life, but as we were talking I extended it to include the sum total of society, and especially young people.

He said that it is unbelievable that many Christians are unable to really articulate what they believe. This is due in large part to many folks simply believing they already have it together and hence no need to really study or define oneself as a Christian. More likely their identification with an institution or organization becomes expression enough to then make a de facto response such as "Well, Southern Baptists (for example) believe..." In fact they really have not addressed the content of the question. What do you believe?

The ability to express oneself has taken on a completely different meaning and in spite of the widespread availability to education and even self-helps. In our media saturated society and the txtmsging vernacular that has overridden everyday speech it is no wonder young people even have the ability to express themselves.

Because, like, you know, I like went to the grocery store yesterday, to like pick up a few things, for my BFF, you know, my wife, and when I like put my stu-uff on the you know, the rolly thingy, I gave a shot-out to the clerk. I like, said, "Good afternoon. How are you today?"

"Huh? Oh, I'm cool man. You cool?"

"Yeah, I'm cool; despite the searing heat outside."

"Huh? What kind of heat?"

And so it goes. I was reminded of this comedian after that brief diddy of an exchange. Its about three minutes, and he can express himself much better than I can. :)



The conversations here at The RP have reminded me of the need and ability to express oneself. To Joe I owe a debt of thanks--and here's to a few more "articulate" convos at The RP. :)

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Thought for the Day

If all we want to do is produce people who look like Christians, our responsibility is fulfilled when people say and do the "right" things.
Eric Wallace, writing on discipleship in Uniting Church and Home

Friday, June 06, 2008

A Final Look at Keeping Our Children's Hearts


I finished Keeping Our Children's Hearts: Our Vital Priority by Steven and Teri Maxwell. The overarching premise of the book, explained by the title, is apropos. It is something much needed in the milieu of contemporary society where children are generally treated not as blessings and familial assets, which the Bible teaches they are, but as liabilities that put a strain on families.

I found myself in strong agreement with that general premise and even the Scriptural basis for the penning of the book, Proverbs 23:26: "My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways." However, the exegesis to justify "sheltering", a key concept of the book, was strained. To be fair, Steve Maxwell is not theologically trained (not that that really makes a difference) but many of the verses he uses he pushes their meanings too far to achieve his own end.

A biblical case may be made for "sheltering" 'a la Maxwell, but Steve drew his theological justification from typical child-raising passages; Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and Ephesians 6:4 and sprinkled a few ethical passages to make his points. I would have been much more comfortable with that section of the book had he just said, "This is what we practice in our family and I found it works," rather than making a strained Biblical case.

The Maxwells also advocate an isolationist approach that is separationist and even monkish in its ideal. I addressed this approach in the comment stream of this post and found agreement that isolationism can be as unhealthy for children as outright exposure to all manner of evil. To quote myself from that stream,
Their strict isolationist view is in my mind, more dangerous than allowing them to do whatever they want. If you shelter a child to the extent that they never see anything of the world it will generate a hunger in them to see it, a premise that is antithetical to their perceived goals in the book!
Balance and knowing your child is the key. The book also seemed to be written with a condescending tone. Having talked to Steve personally at a conference once before, I did feel his discourse was tinged with a bit of patronization. He seemed to hold judgment against parents that did not follow their prescribed methods and that all other methods were inferior. They characterize their approach as "biblical" which is perfectly fine, but their are other methods that are also "biblical" and the Maxwells seem to have no room in their view for any other and that another approach might be equally valid.

I also found the book very short on application; though there were some tender and appealing stories about sheltering their own kids, little practical instruction was given on how to begin "sheltering" at home, if it something that you haven't been doing all along. The Maxwells approached their method as one that you must do at the outset of parenting and if you haven't been "sheltering" all along then their is the high probability that you will fail. No remedy is offered for failure which is the book's most significant weakness. The fulcrum tilts toward law; following the rules, unquestioning obedience, absolute parental authority, yet very little grace to encourage that behavior. Vignettes of grace are sprinkled throughout the book's pages yet grace does not seem to be the motivating factor. I found the overarching tone to be that if you are not raising your children this way then you are inferior parents.

This leads me to why I would probably not recommend this book to church folks or other parents unless they have highly discerning hearts. Though the overall premise is sound, it is lost in the way it is presented. It is not the worst book I have read on parenting, but unfortunately, neither is it the best.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Mithras and Jesus Christ

I have been involved in conversations with a striking, new but regular commenter on both of my blogs. He goes by JoeG and he has raised some interesting questions at another blog he and I both patronize. I have promised to begin some threads here to talk about some of these issues and this is the first in what I hope to be a series of installments about what we have been talking about, "supposed" pagan origins of Christianity. I have been exploring this issue for a while and hope to speak with some coherence. In my digging I have found several similarities between Mithras and Christ, and notably, the Mithras story predates the birth of Christ. We here at The RP will kick off our discussion by simply noting those similarities.

  • Mithra was born of a virgin on December 25th in a cave, and his birth was attended by shepherds.
  • He was considered a great traveling teacher and master.
  • He had 12 companions or disciples.
  • Mithra's followers were promised immortality.
  • He performed miracles.
  • As the "great bull of the Sun," Mithra sacrificed himself for world peace.
  • He was buried in a tomb and after three days rose again.
  • His resurrection was celebrated every year.
  • He was called "the Good Shepherd" and identified with both the Lamb and the Lion.
  • He was considered the "Way, the Truth and the Light," and the "Logos," "Redeemer," "Savior" and "Messiah."
  • His sacred day was Sunday, the "Lord's Day," hundreds of years before the appearance of Christ.
  • Mithra had his principal festival of what was later to become Easter.
  • His religion had a eucharist or "Lord's Supper," at which Mithra said, "He who shall not eat of my body nor drink of my blood so that he may be one with me and I with him, shall not be saved."

My initial contention would be that any similarities between the two don’t necessarily mean that one borrowed from the other. Moreover, does Christianity need any outside influence to develop its doctrines? All of the teachings of Christ have significant foundation in the Old Testament. These initial observations do not reconcile the similarities, but it gives us a place to begin.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Sin on a Bun


I am working on a couple of posts right now but I came across this post by Joe Carter today that deserves a few minutes perusal and reflection. He blogs on the forgotten vice of gluttony. Check this quote to whet your appetite (pun intended).

Gluttony was once listed among the seven deadly sins. But now it's considered, when it's thought about at all, as a private health matter. We may realize that overeating has led to weight gain, a change in appearance, or diminished health. But we never recognize it as a spiritual problem.

Oddly enough, with the exception of those related to sex, American Christians tend to take an antinomian view of "physical sins." We act as if corrupting our bodies will have no impact on our souls. Such an un-Biblical view, however, must be rejected by anyone who acknowledges that the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Maxwells on Sibling Relationships

Maintaining good relationships between siblings is difficult. I read this section of the Maxwells' book with great interest and gleaned much insight from it, unlike some of the areas of the book I have already blogged and commented on in the threads. Having five children, situations can get pretty tense at times yet I do desire that my children have good relationships with one another.
We want to build strong relationships between the children. This can happen by encouraging them to spend time with each other rather than others. When our older children were younger, before we began sheltering as we now do, we found that the more they played with friends, the less nice they were to their siblings. They seemed to always prefer to be with a friend rather than their own brother or sister. Their attitudes toward each other were more unkind and sarcastic. Through sheltering from the negative influences of friends, we have gained the benefit of solid brother and sister relationships.
As per the Maxwells' ideology, they go a little far for my comfort. I have seen the things the Maxwells describe in my children's lives, but also have seen some benefits. I wish the Maxwells had made some delineation and not a blanket statement as it seems they are making; "all friendships are bad" or "all friendships have negative results."

I have seen this play out with my children, that when they were around less than kind children, their attitudes and demeanor tended to rub off on them. Water does run downhill, after all. However, some friendships have had positive impact upon them. Needless to say, all relationships involve an element of risk--opening your heart, to use their terminology, and it seems they are unwilling for that to occur.

There are times when parents should make hard decisions; that perhaps the child should not be playing or spending time with another child, for whatever reason. There may be times when a child may have to be told that they do not get to spend time with another child. However, eradicating any hope of positive influence for the sake of protecting them from some negative seems to me to be an overreach that could have less than beneficial results later in life.

Ultimately, I share the Maxwells' hope that my children have hearts that are turned toward one another, that they would desire to spend time with one another and develop those bonds that last a lifetime. However, to discount the possibility of friendships is neither healthy nor biblical. I think of Abraham being called a friend of God, David's and Jonathan's relationship, Christ's relationships with His disciples, and ultimately, that Christ is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

It is my prayer that my children develop solid sibling relationships, but I believe that they can be cultivated without precluding any other relationships that could be of potentially lifelong benefit as well.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Some Funny

Talk about a paranoid parent. This exclamation actually happened.

One of my daughters was pushing the stroller around the yard today. I did not have a clear line of sight on either her or the stroller, but I could see that she had the stroller tilted up into a "wheelie." I yelled, "Leah, stop! You're gonna dump Michael out of there! He will get hurt!"

My other daughter, Lily, said, "Uh, Daddy...you're...holding...Michael."

Yep. Paranoid.

Memorial Day

Memorial Day

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Maxwells on Sports

More from Steve and and Teri Maxwell and their book, Keeping Our Children's Hearts. Up to this point in the book I have agreed with the Maxwell's take on several areas. However, there is a subtle flaw in their thinking. They dedicate a short section to sports and this is the quotation:
There is another danger in sports that can cause you to lose your child's heart--the coach. It is a fact that those under a coach's authority are highly influenced by him. In other words, the hearts of the team members are drawn to their coach. Even if the coach is a positive role model, if your child's heart is pulled to him, it is being drawn away from you. When that happens, your ability to guide your child's life is potentially diminished. Why allow this?
After reading this section of the book, it finally became clear to me what the needling sensation was that has overridden the entire course of the book. Something had been prodding me about the Maxwells' general attitude toward their children and though I agree with the general principle behind sheltering, the key premise of the book, as well as how essential sheltering is to keeping your child's heart, it became clear to me that the Maxwells are pushing for an authoritarianism I am not completely comfortable with.

My seven-year old daughter plays soccer so my ire was not provoked simply because I have a daughter playing a sport. However, the Maxwells are following a "b necessarily follows a" pattern. Just because my daughter plays soccer does not mean we will lose her heart; quite the contrary. I can see their concerns and how that might be troubling for some parents, but if I have my child's heart, can I not delegate authority unto another and not feel as if my sheltering has been done in vain or fear "losing" her?

I believe that authority can be delegated in such a way. God delegates authority and I believe this is a general principle the Maxwells have overlooked. God has delegated authority to several institutions; He has given some unto government, some unto the church, some unto the family, divided upon the mother and father.

The government has authority in areas the church doesn't have; the church in areas the government does not. The family has authority the church does not have. God has delegated authority unto the husband that the wife does not have. Even Jesus recognized Himself as one under the authority of another. When my daughter plays soccer, it is necessary that she is under the authority of the coach; otherwise she will not play the game well. The Maxwells' position seems to cross the line of pure authoritarianism and not loving parenting.

Parents can effectively delegate their authority unto another without the threat of losing their child. The authority delegated to the coach is not necessarily an authority that should concern a parent. His responsibility is to teach the child to play a game--that is what I expect out of my daughter's coach. I do expect him to teach sportsmanship but that is about as close as I expect him to get to teaching values, morality, and ethics.

Authority is not a tenuous thing in my home, so that is perhaps where my umbrage arises. Sports can become an idol in a child's life yet it can also be an appropriate and beneficial activity. Not knowing the Maxwells personally I can only offer this as conjecture, but it seems that their positions on authority seem to be borne almost of paranoia of losing their own kids and that drives their premises rather than a balanced look at the Scriptures.

A family should shelter their children from horrible things in the world, but to completely disengage from society is neither healthy nor biblical. A parent ought to be comfortable delegating some authority out to another, particularly in areas where the parent has no experience (I cannot effectively teach my daughter to play soccer). If this is done correctly, the child will see no confusion there and that that person's authority extends only into the realm into which it has been delegated.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Another Pertinent Quote

In light of a post I recently wrote at sbc Impact, Holy Competition, I came across this quote from Jared Wilson via Joe Carter:
Warning: If you treat your church like a business, you will treat other churches like your competition.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A Pertinent Quote

Too many unsaved see Christianity as a clique that meets for self-congratulation or theological debate or purely social activity, and has little to do with the struggles of everyday life.
Eric Wallace, Uniting Church and Home

Monday, May 12, 2008

My New Favorite Commercial

Seeing as how we just had a little boy, that makes this all the more meaningful. Plus, seeing as how the little guy squirted me at just a few days of age. Enjoy!

New Post at Impact

I have a new post at SBCImpact! I hope you will check it out.

Thoughts on Breakthroughs in the SBC

Thursday, May 08, 2008

The Maxwells on Television

From Steve and Terri Maxwell, Keeping our Children's Hearts
"I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes..." (Psalm 101:3). Television is filled with wickedness and evil. Even if there are shows that would be okay, the commercials won't be acceptable. How can we expect to keep our sons' hearts if they are continually exposed to immorality and immodestly dressed women on television? Will our daughters want to be morally pure when continually exposed to romance that is idolized on television? Won't our children's hearts be drawn to being entertained if they are allowed to spend their time in front of the television? Will we grow an appetite in our children for laziness by letting them watch? Consider well the spiritual outcomes of children watching television.
I share the Maxwells' concerns about television, and they go on to suggest that nothing good can come of any media experience. Though I have enjoyed many of the premises of this book, several of their ideas about sheltering seem a bit overstated.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Our Example as Parents

I have been reading the Maxwell's book, Keeping Our Children's Hearts, and I came across this quote in my reading today from J.C Ryle, a quote the Maxwell's reference in regards to the example parents need to be to their children.
Instruction, and advice, and commands will profit little, unless they are backed up by the pattern of your won life. Your children will never believe you are in earnest, and really wish them to obey you, so long as your actions contradict your counsel.
Sound advice that may have a more broader application than just the relationship between parent and children.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Lousy Church Signs!!!

I have to start out with the recent flap down in Jonesville, SC with the Church of God pastor who placed on their church sign:
Obama, Osama
Hummm
Are they brothers?
Several friends and even my dear, dear sweet mother-in-law emailed to let me know about this one and I waited around to see what the church decided to do about it. As I understand, the church decided unanimously to keep the sign up but then by this past Tuesday afternoon, due to public pressure, the pastor decided to take it down. Good blog friend Streak posted on this one as it broke the news, so I let my commentary rest.

The next one incorporates the new teen text messaging vernacular with Holy Writ.
Read the Bible
The Holy Spirit Will
Send You a Txt Msg
And maybe He will be your BFF 2. Then this one, a new twist on divine math, with hackneyed spelling to boot:
Tuff Love
1 Cross
3 Nails
Nope, no "4 Given" in that one. Guess that part wasn't important enuff to put on the sign. This next one I link from a friend's blog who has got some guts to post this sign. After posting he emailed to let me know about it; I commented on his chutzpah. Well, as luck (or fate, or chance, or whatever) would have it, another friend sent me this one! So, in response to brother Chris' lousy church sign, Ewwwwwww!!!


I know, this one just about crosses the line--it ain't fit to be on a sign, much less reposted on a blog. (Incidentally, Evangelism Coach is the best evangelism blog you will read on the net.) A few more to round the post out, sans my wit:
God Does Not
Believe in Atheists
Therefore Atheists
Do Not Exist

Forgive Your
Enemies--It Messes
With Their Heads

Free Coffee
Everlasting Life
Yes Membership Has
Its Privileges

Don't Be So
Open-Minded
Your Brains
Fall Out

God So Loved the World
That He Didn't
Send a Committee
Believe it or not, that one was on a Disciples of Christ church sign, and NOT BAPTIST!! (Oops, I said I wasn't going to commentate...or something...) This next one never gets old.
Read the Bible-It Will
Scare the Hell Out of You
This one is my favorite in this installment of LCS, and on an Assembly of God church sign!
Artificial Intelligence
Is No Match For
Natural Stupidity
Oh, and by the way, you can create your own church signs now! Too much fun. Too much.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Boy Reads Entire Bible; Obedience Made the Difference

These are a couple of articles I would like to point everyone to from the For Faith and Family Blog. The first is an encouraging article about a boy, eleven years old, who read through the entire Bible in two years. He did not sway from the task his mom and dad said, "He did it all on his own," with no encouragement from them.

“I wanted to get closer in my faith to the Lord,” says Graves. He recommends reading the Bible from Genesis straight through to Revelation. “I don’t really like skipping around,” he says.

Graves likes the Gospels but also enjoys the history books. “But you can’t leave out the minor and major letters of Paul,” he says.

Graves learned a lot while reading his way through the Scripture. “I learned it doesn’t matter how young or old you are, you still have to witness to other people,” he says.

A great picture of the boy in his Scout uniform is at the blog. The second article is the testimony from a personal friend that surfaces occasionally on the web in SBC circles (his link is in the sidebar). It comes from Tim Wilkins, coordinator of Cross Ministry out of Wake Forest, NC. Tim came out of a homsexual lifestyle and now ministers to other homosexuals; the tagline of his ministry is More than Words, meaning that it takes more than words to lead a homosexual to faith in Christ. The quote that always stands out to me when I read Tim's testimony follows:
My sporadic homosexual activity continued until my early twenties, when I decided that although I honestly did not know how to be heterosexual, I did know how to be obedient.
Obedience makes all the difference in following Christ. Have a blessed Thursday.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Some Funny

I was talking with a family we had just met at my daughter's soccer practice...which by the way, I am coaching defense, how cool is that??!!?? Bet all y'all didn't know that, huh? Well, anyway...

The family's daughter was wearing some extremely cool sports glasses. I remarked how cool I thought they were and they began explaining an eye disorder that she had that necessitated the special glasses.

I expressed my dismay and then asked, "Is it congenital?"

"Oh no, she was born that way."

Sigh.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Keeping our Children's Hearts

As a parent, what is the most valuable thing you can think of? There may be several answers to that question. My oldest child is now ten years old and already I can see and feel the subtle effects of a world vying for her attention. The world exerts a strong pull. How can I as a concerned father who loves his children counter this phenomenon? The Apostle John teaches us, "Do not love the world or the things in the world (1 John 2:15)," but possessing such a natural bent to love that which God abhors, how can I as a fallible man with the same natural tendency, keep his children from falling away from the faith later on in their lives?

I am steadily becoming convinced that the answer lies in who possesses the child's heart. Scripture teaches us much about the human heart; its proclivity to sin, its various expressions, its need to be guarded, and also its need to be held. The heart represents who you are; often you have heard someone described as having a "good heart" or a "bad heart". It is a description of who that person is at a fundamental level.

I am reading a book by Steve and Teri Maxwell, Keeping Our Children's Hearts. (I hope to list a full review of the book on the blog soon.) The authors state a fundamental premise to parenting and one that I have, to a degree, failed: to keep our children from abandoning the faith altogether when they are older, we must posses their hearts when they are younger.

As I have read the first several chapters, I have found that much of my parenting and discipline has not been borne of my relationship with my kids but rather more like behavior modification techniques; "you do this or x, y, and z will happen." The premise is so true; though God does discipline His children (Hebrews 12:5-11) and God expects (and even demands) obedience, He desires that we obey Him out of a heart of love for him.

Now don't get me wrong, my kids love me and I love them. Don't read that I have been an utter failure as a daddy in that sentence! However, I do not naturally have their hearts, as God does not naturally have mine. It may be possible to raise good, godly children yet not have their hearts. In my short tenure of ministry I have heard lament after lament of how a child had slipped away and was consumed by the world, having fallen away from faith in Christ. They make statements such as, "They're good kids, they just don't go to church like they should"; or, "Christ was such a vital part of their lives when they were younger, now, not so much."

My goal is to raise good, godly kids, not just now, but to give them a faith that will remain. It is not enough to have kids that behave well, do not cause any problems, or simply "mind". What is best are kids that love Christ and all that emanates from that love. And that is why the most valuable things in my life, as a parent, are my children's hearts.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Food Pantry Ministry Restores Church to Health

Texarkana Church 'Loving' Community to Christ

I don't think I have ever heard of a food pantry ministry being this effective. Give the article a look and if you want, let me know what you think.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Our Family Goals

My wife and I have been talking about this for quite some time and have just now gotten around to getting these down on paper. At breakfast this morning, our family "ratified" these and consecrated ourselves unto the Lord with these goals in mind. So, what do you think? Should a family have goals?

*************************************************************************************

The overarching goal in our family is that each member has a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. (John 3:16, Ephesians 2:8-9). These goals are intended to engender in our family a love for God, a love for each other, and faith that causes us to persevere in times of difficulty.

1. Our family will seek to serve God as a family (Joshua 24:15).

2. Our family will seek to glorify God in all we do (Matthew 22:37-38, 1 Corinthians 10:31, Colossians 3:17).

3. Our family will seek to love and respect one another (Matthew 22:39, Luke 10:25-37, Romans 12:10, Philippians 2:4).

4. Our family will seek to be obedient (John 14:15).

a. Daddy and Mommy will seek to be role models of obedience to the children (Proverbs 31:28, Ephesians 6:4, Colossians 3:21, 1 Timothy 3:4, 2 Timothy 1:5, Titus 2:4).

b. The children will be obedient to Daddy and Mommy unless their instructions are contrary to God’s Word (Exodus 20:12, Ephesians 6:1-3, Colossians 3:20).

5. Our family will seek to spend time together as a family, as often as is necessary to maintain a strong bond one with the other.

6. Our family will seek to be self-controlled and self-disciplined (1 Corinthians 9:24-27, Galatians 5:22-23, 1 Timothy 4:8).

7. Our family will seek to speak edifying words that encourage (Ephesians 4:29).

8. Our family will seek to be lovers of God’s Word and that it becomes a focus in our lives (Deuteronomy 6:1-9, Psalms 19:7-11, 119:97).

9. Our family will seek to be content with God’s provision and learn to enjoy and be thankful for that which God provides (Philippians 4:11, 19; 1 Thessalonians 5:18, 1 Timothy 6:6-8).

10. Our family will seek to be in the world but not of the world (John 1:10, Romans 12:1-2, 1 John 2:15, 4:4).

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

What a Library!

I will confess, my family has a penchant for books. Combined, we have nearly 2,000 books in our home and at my study at the church. I was not surprised however, stumbling across this list of books that would be in the perfect library, that many of the books we already own. Take a gander.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

SPLAT!


Plus, Ill top it off with a few lousy church signs, in honor of the fact that I do not post out here like I should.

Need a Second Opinion?
Ask Jesus!

So much for "Seek first..."; you know the rest. And you've got to love homonyms; even the overused ones. Always good for church signs.This first one I cannot believe still makes it on church signs.

No Jesus? No peace.
Know Jesus? Know peace!

And...

Our Sundays are better than Baskin Robbins.

Now I don't want to go to church or get ice cream. This next pastor has some life issues.

Life stinks
But we have the pews for you.

Yeah, I cannot believe that one was on a church sign either. And from the same church:

Behind every good man
is a surprised mother-in-law.

Yep; some serious life issues. If I had something against my mother-in-law, I would just say it to her face; no way would I use the church's sign to air my grievances with her. Oh wait...

And for the 2008 presidential race...

God loves you
and He approved this message.

And with that, I bid you adieu...

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

A Cause for Praise

I blogged last on my good friend's daughter and asked you to pleas pray for her. Improvement has been really slow, considering her condition before what happened, but there is much reason to be thankful unto the Lord. I have copied a portion of the email I received today that gives us much hope for her complete recovery.
Today is day 17 since [our baby girl's] adventure began and day 6 at Kluge Children's Rehab Center. In case you were wondering, she did not have a stroke this time. It's like her brain is 'bruised' but it has the full potential to regain everything she lost while seizing. Whether or not she does regain it all remains to be seen. She can sit up in a wheelchair for 2-3 hours now; and her head control is improving, but not what it used to be. She is moving her left arm and leg more. She smiles easily and can say a few words, but 'hi' is not one of them yet. Her voice is still at a whisper. She ate about a teaspoon of oatmeal twice yesterday and the day before. They are changing her feeding tube feeds to match a more normal eating habit. She should be there by tomorrow. We're not sure how much longer she will need the feeding tube. She has gotten very good at pulling it out, but needs to improve her swallow before it can be removed permanently.
They are concerned that she regain "hi" in her vocabulary because that was her standard greeting for anytime of the day. She still has some way to go, but her progress thus far is a great reason to rejoice. Thank you for your prayers.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Please Pray for My Friend's Daughter

I would like to ask for your prayers for a very good friend's daughter. This has happened suddenly and I do not have permission from him to be very specific. His teenage daughter is mentally retarded and has been confined to a wheelchair for neary all her life. This past week she caught the flu and had a hard time battling it. It caused her to have several strokes and it has left her clinically dead. She is on life support and they will reevaluate her condition on Monday and will probably let her go. This is a very difficult time for all, especially her older brother.

God bless you, my friends, and thank you for your prayers. Please lift up this precious family.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Contradictions in the Bible?

I have been engaged in quite a discussion at one of the political blogs I peruse and the topic of contradictions in the Bible came up. A fellow out there named Joe asked one commenter to address four particular contradictions and he flatly refused. After a discussion with the fellow why he refused, Joe asked if I would be amenable to discussing the contradictions and I agreed. Joe's question and my responses are cut and pasted below. How would you respond? How could I have responded better? I was painstakingly brief and may have in my attempt to use an economy of words overlooked something.

*******

Joe--I copied these from the comment you made. That way we won't have to keep scrolling back.

Contradictions:
1. Did Jesus baptize anyone?
John 3:22 says yes, John 4:2 says no.

2. When Jesus first gave the 12 apostles powers of healing and sent them forth, how did he tell them to dress?
Matthew 10:10 and Luke 9:3 says he told them to go barefoot and without a staff. mark 6:8-9 says he told them to wear sandals and bring nothing BUT a staff.

3. What were the names of the 12 apostles?
Of the four lists (Matt 10:2-4, Mark 3:16-19, Luke 6:14-16 and Acts 1:13), all agree on 11 of the names. However, Matthew and Mark list the 12th apostle as Thaddeus, while Luke and Acts name Judas brother of James (a second Judas, not Iscariot).

4. How many believers were there at the time of the ascension?
Acts 1:15 says they numbered 120, but 1 Corinthians 15:6 says over 500.

My responses (I’ll try to be brief.):

1. In context, a dispute had arisen between John’s disciples and Jesus’ disciples, instigated by the Pharisees (4:1) because Jesus had baptized more than John. This would be in keeping with the gradual diminishing of John’s ministry in favor of Christ’s which John testified would happen (3:30). To reconcile 3:22 and 4:1, many commentators of 150 years ago (the contemporary commentaries I have on John do not address the apparent contradiction) agree that the baptisms of 3:22 took place not by the literal hands of Christ but by the hands of His disciples. The disciples baptized by His orders and directions (4:2) for as Matthew Henry remarks, “his disciples' baptizing was his baptizing. Holy ordinances are Christ's, though administered by weak men.”

2. One helpful way to look at the Gospels are as photo albums. They should not be expected to line up in every detail. If you and I were to take snapshots of the same event it would be from two differing perspectives. What may stand out to you may not be important to me. In many ways the Gospels are incongruous yet what is reported fits with the individual writer’s purpose. Each account stresses to take next to nothing on the journey, emphasizing the disciples’ dependence upon God for provision for the journey. Perhaps Mark made a minor adaptation that would have fit with his Roman audience’s understanding, or perhaps a different geographical setting that would have been important to Mark specifically.

3. All commentaries agree that Judas brother of James and Thaddaeus are one in the same man. I am no textual critic, but there is a variant in the Greek texts of this verse and quite possibly Thaddaeus is a corruption of Judas in the Greek. In some Greek manuscripts, Thaddaeus is actually Lebbaeus. My conjecture would be that these are nicknames, possibly of devotion or endearment, that the individual authors would have been aware of.

4. Acts 1:3 says that Christ remained on earth forty days after his resurrection. 1 Corinthians 15:6 gives no specific time frame of when Christ was seen during that time but only that 500 people saw him at once. So the two events, 120 seeing Him at the ascension and 500 people seeing him at another time, are mutually exclusive.

Those are my take!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Happy with My Affliction

My good blogging friend Selah V blogged here about being content with one's affliction. After the week I had last week, I found the asking of the question, Are you happy with your affliction? almost insulting.

If I had a worst enemy, I would not wish an ear infection upon whomever that may be. It has been a nightmarish week, but a week that has reminded me of some things that I needed to be reminded of. I have been reminded of the love of the people of God.

Had I not come down with an ear infection, we would not have been the recipients of such unbelievable displays of God's tenderness and grace through His people. Two men hogtied me and took me to the ER last Sunday afternoon; many of the saints from the new church I serve called to check on us (one dear lady has called daily); one gentleman took me to the doctor on Wednesday so we would not have to get all the children out in the cold; and some have prepared meals to make it easier on my sweet wife, who has been unfalteringly sweet to me.

Honestly, we feel part of the new church. We feel like we belong. We feel like part of the family. In this way, God has moved in my heart and showed me how the people of God are supposed to care for one another. This has been a pleasant experience, though bitterly painful physically.

I also have been reminded of the unfailing goodness of God. Even in the midst of a nasty ear infection, glimpses of God's goodness shined through. When my three year old crawled in the bed with a stack of books content to lay beside me and look at them, knowing there was no way on this planet I could read them. Honeybunny Funnybunny was going to have to wait and she knew it. Or waking up and finding a picture on the nightstand, drawn lovingly by a five year old so daddy would feel better. And the get well cards--all drawn on yellow legal paper. They could have been drawn on the back of a brown grocery bag and I wouldn't have cared.

And this may sound cheesy and if so, so be it. As I lay in my bed, I could look out the window and see the steeple of the church. It was a constant source of encouragement and a reminder of God's love and the love of the people of God. It also reminded me that God's church is much more--so much more--than just a red brick building (with a white steeple).

Yes, God is good. Plus, the response and movement of the Spirit in my own soul as I preached both services today was overwhelming . I love to preach--I cannot lie. I believe God has called me and put a passion in my heart to teach and preach His word and being out of the pulpit caused a gnawing in my bones. Right now, the folks are getting Acts on Sunday morning and Genesis on Sunday evening. God has blessed and I believe He will continue. I am thankful for a responsive congregation and folks that enjoy talking about the Word.

Also, I am reminded of the unfailing love of a woman. My sweet wife has put up with a lot this past week. Second to God, I owe her an enormous debt of gratitude. Thanks, honey!

Occasionally, it takes something serious to be reminded of some key things about God. Perhaps next time I won't have to stare at the inside of my bedroom (in pain) for a week to figure those things out.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Human Again!

I want to thank everyone for their prayer support over the past several days. I woke up this morning and an odd thing had occurred--I felt HUMAN again! Yesterday was the most worrisome day of all as evidently some of the crud started to drain out of my ear. It made me dizzy and muddle-headed. I couldn't walk in a straight line, I couldn't focus, and worst of all I was beastly snippy at the children.

I am still a little stuffed up today but I believe the ear infection has dealt its worst blow as the steroids and antibiotic have knocked it for a loop instead of me. For three days I have been humming the little diddy Human Again from Disney's Beauty and the Beast (by far one of Disney's better animated creations). This song was not included in the original theatrical version (for several reasons) but in a re-release on DVD. I don't care much for the song but it accurately describes how I feel right now. After enjoying the three minute flick, take a moment and answer my questions that follow. Many, many thanks to all of you.



I have been considering my blogging out here at The RP. It is something that I have enjoyed immensely but as of late have not found any desire to write with the same tenacity that I once did. I find myself doing most of my blogging out at The RP2. However, I wanted to poll your opinion of this site, if in fact you still read out here, even though I have not posted anything beyond trivialities in quite some time. So, what do you think? Would you like to see more theology posts, family posts, homeschooling, what??? I need help in that regard and would like to hear from you, if you are so inclined and have the time. Many blessings!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

I Need Prayer, Please...


This past Saturday I got up with a debilitating ear infection and there seems to be no particular end in sight. I have never felt a pain like that. It started inside my ear, worked its way toward the top of my head, down into my jaw, and further down into my throat. I was unable to preach either Sunday service.

Two sweet, sweet men from the church took me to the Emergency Room. The doctor told me my ear looked bad if I was two, even worse for being thirty-five. I got a shot with an eight foot needle and about a gallon of antibiotic. As another church member chided me, at least the tip was not square pointed. :)

It hurts to laugh, talk, smile, think, read, even to look at this monitor. My kids have been really sweet to me though. Everyone needs kids like mine.

So, all that being said, please pray for me. I need to feel better. Thanks.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Something Funny...

My five year old asked me a perplexing question...

Daddy, how do they get the meat without scaring the cows?

Uhhhh......

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Post at sbcImpact!

I have a new post up at sbcImpact; "The Teeth of Our Exertions."

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Opportunities to be UnChristian

Moving always brings with it its challenges. There are extra bills to pay, changing addresses with creditors, getting utilities turned on, getting settled in a new community, adjusting to a new lifestyle, and taking advantage of opportunities to be UnChristian.

I have had a couple of those since my family and I have made the move to Waynesville, NC. The transition time always takes your character into question for some reason and when those clerks take your money and discover you are "from out of town" (though you just moved here) there always seems to be that cross-ways glance of affirmation with the manager. We stopped at K-Mart to pick up some necessities. My wife desired to patronize K-Mart because we literally had not shopped at K-Mart for nearly ten years. (I'm not intimating that this is her fault, by the way.)

We had just recently received our new checks from the new bank and the clerk, a very young lady, nearly beamed as she welcomed us to Waynesville. She ran the check through the verifier and to our chagrin, it was rejected for some reason. "That typically happens to out of town folks."

Wait a minute. We aren't from out of town. We live here now. I have a local bank account.

To our chagrin the check had been rejected and she pointed us to an 800 number that we could call and see why the check was rejected. We had already written several checks since our transition and I knew we had ample funds in the checking account. Needless to say I was upset. So was my wife, who does not handle these things well.

We began scrounging for cash and could only come up with about three-quarters of the amount of the bill. "Is there something you don't need that you can take off the bill?" The intonation of her voice placed the emphasis on "don't need."

We need all these things or else we would not be here buying them. What is wrong with you?

My wife chimed in, "Put this back." The toilet paper? Are you out of your mind? I curled an eyebrow in response; "It's OK," she nodded back. I sure hoped she knew what she was doing (my wife, that is).

As we were going through a couple of other items we potentially "didn't need", the manager joined us and with all the tenacity of Barney Fife, "What seems to be the problem here?"

Oh, no problem sir, just the riff-raff trying to rip off your store. The clerk explained the dilemma and I felt like Chevy Chase in a National Lampoon's movie.

"Oh, this happens all the time to out of town (there's that phrase again) folk." Just call that 800 number and they will work it out. Thank you for shopping K-Mart." Did he just say that? He literally said that.

Nevertheless, we got what few items our meager amount of cash-on-hand would allow, sans toilet paper, and headed out the store with our tails tucked between our legs. When we arrived home and tucked the kiddos in bed, I promptly called the infernal 800 number that had been thrust in my face. After pressing one for English (Arrrghhhh!), I answered all the automated questions and finally got to talk to a real, live, human person.

"Ahh! I see the problem. The clerk misentered your driver's license number. She duplicated the first two."

So it was neither my fault nor my wife's, nor Barney's, nor the kids who were obviously agitated because we had been standing in line so long next to all the impulse buy items that they so desperately wanted to touch and had been told no about a hundred times already yet the temptations still remained and they were tired and ready to go to bed and had drawn enough attention to warrant a police investigation; IT WAS THE CLERK'S FAULT.

Later that night I thought of the myriad of ways I might have handled that situation and I breathed a prayer before going to bed, thanking the Lord for helping me to hold my tongue and not telling Barney to put his bullet back in his pocket. Being prepared for those kinds of incidents is not easy, but thankfully, I was. Though I was greatly irritated at the situation, it turned out to be a simple mistake, one I have been known to do. And I didn't shame my Lord in the process.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Doing Better Than I Deserve

Our transition is almost complete. I have been out of blogville for a while but am glad to be back at it. I return as the new pastor of Grandview Baptist Church in Waynesville, NC and am glad to be so. Please pray for me and the new church as we make this transition. My prayer is to glorify the Lord in all that I do here. There seems to be much work to do and I look forward to jumping in with both feet and doing the work of the Lord in a new place of service.

There are many new things about this area we are excited about, many changes to our lifestyle that will be welcome, and "town living". We were literally seventeen miles from the nearest grocery store at the old charge; now we are about a mile and a half from Ingle's grocery store, the grocery store of my youth. That is another thing we are thrilled about--being closer to family. My folks are only about an hour away from us, as opposed to the six that we were. My wife's parents are about an hour and forty-five away. I'll keep you posted as the work progresses from time to time on the blog but prayerfully a new post will be up so we can all start talking again.

While I have been away, I was asked to do something for a fellow blogger. Pastor Chris out at the Evangelism Coach asked me to plug his book giveaway. No man should have six bookshelves of books on evangelism so he is giving some away. All you have to do is sign up for his free newsletter and you're registered.

Also, Selah V, one of my favorite bloggers and dear friend tagged me for a dadgum meme. I'll get her back, that is for sure. The rules are as follows:

First, you need to pick up the book nearest to you which has 123 pages or more (no cheating!) Did you see that? NO CHEATING. The book nearest you, right now as you are reading this page.

* Find page 123
* Find the first five sentences
* Post the next three sentences
* Tag five people

OK--the book nearest me at the time was He that is Spiritual by Lewis Sperry Chafer and on page 123, the three sentences I post for your reading enjoyment are:
The judgment belonged to us; but He became our Substitute. We are thus counted as co-partners in all that our Substitute did. What He did, forever satisfied the righteous demands of God agianst the "old man" and opened the way for a "walk" well-pleasing with God (see II Corinthians 5:15).
Since I love Selah dearly, I participate but I reserve the right not to tag anybody!!! (Heh.) Besides, I have been out of the blogosphere for so long, someone might get upset if I tag them without any substantial material to legitimize myself for being out here.

The last order of business is a lousy church sign. I think all my regular readers know my penchant for them and goodness, the church that called me HAS A SIGN! And lo, they cannot beat this for sheer, unadulterated lousiness. What are they thinking? They'll be fortunate if anyone comes to church now.


(Couldn't resist; LOL!!!)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

New Post at sbcImpact!

Actually, a re-post of something I posted here at The RP over a year ago. Having never talked about homeschooling that much at the collaborative blog, I thought I would provide the springboard. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Transitions

I have been out of the blogosphere for a couple of weeks now and I have suffered serious withdrawal pangs. It has not been a case of "won't" but more a case of "can't." My family has been in a bit of an upheaval the past few weeks and we are undergoing a serious time of transition right now.

We have served Hunting Creek Baptist Church now for six years and three months and have had a blessed time with the saints of God there. However, there has always been a tension between serving the folks here and serving our extended family who lives about six hours away from us (often a much longer drive with five children). My wife and I had began praying about a year ago that God would move in a significant way in our lives so that we could be closer to our original home, which is the Greenville/Spartanburg, SC area.

As is often the case, God moved just as we had prayed but yet has called us to another place of ministry and service in a totally unexpected community. We are going to be moving from Nathalie which is in southside Virginia (about 400' above sea level), to the mountains of western North Carolina, in Waynesville (about 3,000' above sea level). The church I will be serving is Grandview Baptist Church, with the added benefit of being only just over an hour from our folks' homes.

This has been a bittersweet transition for us. We have grown to greatly love the Hunting Creek folks and her surrounding community. They have been an easy group of folks to serve; they love the Lord, love each other, and have loved us. We will miss this area and the people of God here. They also will miss us--they have made that abundantly clear. Many tears have been shed over the past three weeks. We have made some extra special friends, people whom we shall never forget.

I would desire that you would pray for us as we make this transition--pray for the hearts of the folks at Grandview to receive us and pray also for Hunting Creek. If God can use me, certainly he can raise up someone imminently more capable than I am to carry on the ministries there.

Transitions are difficult. I am thankful for the grace that has been shown to us by Hunting Creek and look forward to serving Grandview. Thanks everyone for your participation on the blogs and I hope to "be back at it" soon. Remember us in your prayers when you think about us.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Depression: A Real Problem for Real People

It has been some time that I have written anything substantial here. However, I have written something substantial at the collaborative blog, sbcImpact! Click over and take a look. Thanks!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Lousy Church Signs

A good friend who knows my love and disdain for lousy church signs passed these along to me for publishing to the blog, so I know not from whence they came. Both signs prove that plays on words really should be disallowed from church signs altogether. The first is a Christmas holdover:
Wise Men Followed the Star
Now They Follow the Son
The "sun/son" play on words never gets old, does it? The next one turns the eternal kingdom into a weather forecast.
Heavenly Forecast
Jesus Reigns Forever
So Jesus is going to drip water into all eternity? Yeah, I know, that commentary is just as lame as the sign, but my usual wit was overcome by the lousiness of the sign. Perhaps you can do better!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

My New Year's Resolution: 2008

I have put some time, thought, and prayer into my resolution for 2008. I actually began doing a self-inventory about a month ago, looking for areas in my life where I am deficient, and I found more than a few. One place has stuck out to me since thinking through this and it is in the area of gentleness.

I want to be a gentle man. I don't mean I want to be a push-over or pusillanimous. I want to be gentle in the biblical sense of the word. I want to be strong yet not belligerent; I want to be firm yet not harsh; I want to be compassionate yet not wishy-washy. I want to be tender-hearted yet not weak-minded. In a word, in the way Jesus was gentle, I want to be gentle.

In no way do I want to be coarse, obtuse, or rude. I want to always be encouraging, kind, yet unwavering in my convictions. I want to be willing to learn, willing to be rebuked, willing to step back and examine myself. I want to be gentle.

I want my wife to have a gentle husband, my children to have a gentle father, the folks I serve to have a gentle pastor, and commenters on the blogs to have a gentle bloghost. I don't think that is an unreasonable goal for 2008.

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:22

To all my family and friends, Happy New Year. Have you made a resolution?