Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Speaking of traveling. . .

I'm convinced that the people who design airplanes are frustrated short people seeking to make life miserable for tall people. They place the seats at a "wide" 9 inches apart, enough room for the Midget patrol from the "Wizard of Oz", but not many others. Are you ready for my chief pet peeve of flying? Especially with Southwest Airlines and their open seating (read that "get there early or be strapped to the wing!)? There are two rows of seats with extra leg room - the front row and the exit row. People in a hurry, I can understand, would want the front row. But invariably, no matter how early we check in, we wind up being some of the last to board the plane. Equally invariably, those rows are gobbled up - by midgets. Or the elderly (to sit in the exit row, you have to be ready and willing to handle the 50 lbs. exit door- clearly a problem for elderly ladies who seem to gravitate to that row). Or women doing their makeup. So those of us who really NEED the space are forced to cram ourselves into a middle seat somewhere in the back behind someone who will want to recline their seat despite the fact my knees are already touching the back of their seat with it upright! TALL PEOPLE UNITE! ALL YOU HAVE TO LOSE IS YOUR KNEECAPS!

Final report on Amarillo

We got home last night around 9:00 PM and we were so glad to get here. Julie and I love to travel - we've been on numerous trips since we've been married - but there's still nothing like coming home. Just in case you're wondering what my analysis of the days spent at the BGCT, here goes.
- The BGCT is only a shadow of what it once was. Too many poor decisions and too many self-defeating visions. But it's not dead - yet. The Convention MUST do a better job of allowing the annual meeting to at least FEEL like there's something to be decided. For example, when the Budget proposal was presented, complete with a $500,000 cut to Missions and Ministries and an increase to Baylor University, it was passed. There was only slight discussion because I honestly think people are either (1) in agreement with it, (2) complacent about it or (3) have realized there's not much the body can do. I was disappointed with the budget so I didn't vote yes or no.
- The BGCT simply MUST do a better job of appealing to younger leaders. Aside from Rick Warren's message on Monday night and Howard Batson's powerful message Tuesday morning, it was like someone encapsulated a conference from 1955 and opened it right there! It felt defitively aimed at those in the 50+ crowd.
- The fate of the BGCT hangs on who is chosen as the new Executive Director. Retiring Executive Director Dr. Charles Wade is a fine man with many admirable qualities. But the future really hinges on who will replace him.
- Swift action is necessary or more cuts in the BGCT are coming.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Report from Amarillo

Wow. It was like old-home day. We saw so many old friends, people with whom we shared life in various ways through our journey, both before we were married and after. We were witness to the historic event of electing our first female president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. Congratulations Joy Fenner (or I'm sorry - we'll know later which is appropriate). We were there for the message from Rick Warren, Pastor of Saddleback Church near Los Angeles. He preached for an hour (if you can call it preaching) and for the most part, we didn't mind a lick. We connected with people who we'll consider partnering with in future ministries at FBC - more on that later. Julie and I ate supper with Eddie Hilburn last night, sharing a meal as well as hearing stories about many of you (not to worry - all pleasant ones). It has been well worth our trouble to get here. We'll leave for home right after lunch - we'll see you soon.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Good news today!

First of all, Jesus is Lord! What more good news do you need? You say you need evidence to that effect? Here's a story to evidence the grace of the Lord. While the Southern California wildfires rage (hopefully, they'll be out soon), thousands of evacuees are staying at Qualcom Stadium, home of the San Diego Chargers football team. In what may sound like a potential repeat of what we saw in New Orleans with Hurricane Katrina, volunteers came by the hundreds to prove there are people who care about others and love humanity more than self. Listening to their stories brought such a joy to me - people just using their skills to the glory of God and, somehow, it's enough.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Schedule your picture appt for the FBC Directory!

Okay, as faithful readers of this nonsensical diatribe, I've got a reward for you - the opportunity to schedule your pictures before we announce it in church tonight (Wednesday).
Here's the link!
When you go to the site, you'll be asked for your contact information and your phone number. Let me know if you have problems - we're doing this as an experiment for Olan Mills, so we'll see how it goes!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

A terrible idea

Perhaps you've read about the school in Maine now providing condoms and birth control to their junior high students. Here's a link to the story. I don't care what the reasoning for doing this - it is truly an awful idea. Ask yourself this: Did you have the maturity, intelligence or judgment to make such crucial decisions when you were 11-13 yrs old? Me neither. At that age, all I could think of was how I could become a stuntman. :-) If someone tries to convince you this is a good idea, compare it to Scripture - that will help you decide that this is a terrible idea.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The power of fire

Perhaps you saw the story about the fire they recently had at the Palace of Wax in Grand Prairie. (In case you didn't, here's a link to the full story). Of all the places one could have a fire, I'd have to say a wax museum would be among the worst. When I was in college at Dallas Baptist University in the late 1980's, the original Wax Museum, on the same spot as the Palace of Wax, burned to the ground. I remember it well - how stinky the fire was; how black the smoke; how some idiot went home to get coat hangers and hot dogs for a weenie roast over the burning museum; how ironic it was that there was a firefighting museum just a few hundred yards away (I don't think it's there anymore). The passion of the fire consumed everything, leaving nothing but a black, sticky, smelly mess. As far as I remember and can research out, they were never sure how the fire started. My suspicion is that it was a failure of diligence as most things such as this are. They failed to wait to discover a problem. Perhaps they even confessed it like some do - "We'll deal with it when it comes up." Dealing with problems like that only aggravate the situation, like waiting to see a doctor for medical attention. Some things, however, are meant for patience. Waiting on the power and presence of the Lord to resolve our dilemma. Psalm 27:4 says it this way: "Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” While patience can lead to destruction in some cases, it's the only way to find the strength and passion needed for daily life.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Mr. President?

Here's a frightening thought: Stephen Colbert as President of the US! If you're not aquainted with his satirical style and hillarious perspective, here's an example.

"After nearly 15 minutes of soul-searching, I have heard the call….I am hereby declaring that I will enter the presidential primary in my native South Carolina, running as a favorite son," Colbert said on his show Tuesday night. "I defy any other candidate to pander more to the people of South Carolina — those beautiful, beautiful people." - Stephen Colbert
Here's a link to the full article.

Some people are good at somethings - others should just leave them alone. We'll discuss this issue again later.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Applications being received for MISSION FRANKSTON

In Matthew 25: 40, Jesus said "Whatever you do the least of my brothers, you're doing it unto me." With serving Christ by serving people in mind, we're taking applications for MISSION FRANKSTON, a week-long opportunity to do missions work right here at home! We've been on mission trips to Mexico, southeast Texas, the Rio Grande Valley of Texas and Corsicana - all that in just the last few years. Now, we're looking for projects, large or small, right here at home. If you know of someone who needs help with general maintenance on their home, needs a wheelchair ramp, needs their leaves raked, needs attention given to whatever projects they might have, recommend them to us and we'll check it out! We're planning to begin on Saturday, November 17th and work throughout the week of Thanksgiving as people have time.

Would you like to volunteer? We need those too! Please send our church office an email (take the spaces out of the following to send an email fbc @ firstbaptistfrankston.org) and we'll send you the details as they come available.

A Personal request

Friends, please lift up Dr. Gary Cook, president of Dallas Baptist University and a man who made an enormous contribution to who I am today. He was diagnosed last week with severe leukemia and is beginning treatments immediately. Ask the Lord of all grace and mercy to heal Dr. Cook. Pray for Sheila, his wife and their grown sons. Pray for the DBU family. I promise to keep you updated.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Is there a diference?

You may remember just this past Sunday night we discussed the stark difference between Christianity and Muslim theology. I found a helpful comparison chart illustrating the sharp differences and why the God of the Bible and Allah of the Quran / Koran cannot be the same. Click here to go to it. Released today was a statement from 138 Islamic leaders warning "the survival of the world is at stake" if Christianity doesn't cooperate and find familiar ground with Islam. Even President Bush has jumped in stating we have a "common ancestry." Don't be deceived! The Word of God warns of "hollow and deceptive philosophies" that will lead men astray. Just because people want to believe it's true and can offer justified arguments that it's true doesn't mean it IS true. There can be only one truth: Jesus Christ!

Perception is a powerful force

"When I say 'Dang it, I'm scared to send my kids to church!' that's so relevant! All you hear about are priests molesting kids and all those right-wing Bible thumpers! I love Jesus, but I'm scared to send my kids to this organized religious bull." - Kid Rock

I found this quote in one of my newsletters this week and realized how little involvement Mr. Rock (aka Robert Ritchie) must have with Christians. You can't say you love Jesus and hate his bride. But the perception the media drives ahead is definitively anti-Christian. If there's an issue with a church, no matter the size, it will be magnified by the anti-Christian cadre. They are driven, in my estimation, by Satan himself. Is it any wonder people no longer trust the church? Or her ministers? I'll confess that many times when I meet a stranger and they ask me what I do, I'm hesitant to tell them for fear of the judgmental condemnation that is sure to come. The real problem for many is they've confused the messenger for the message. People will infallibly let us down but that doesn't negate the message.
So what can we do? Recognize the privileged role God has given us as messengers of hope, grace, mercy and love and pour ourselves out making a mockery of the straw-man the media wants us to be.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A trip I wish I'd been on

Instead of going to Arlington, I wish I could've gone with these guys to Patmos, the famous island where the Apostle John was exiled to when he wrote the book of Revelation. A group of scholars has recently returned from there, photographing and cataloging ancient works still found there. An interesting story if you like that kind of thing - you know I DO! Here's the link.

I've been gone - did you miss me?

I spent Mon and Tues of this week at a Youth Pastor's convention in Arlington, TX. I was unashamedly beating the bushes for potential youth pastors. It went well and it was outstanding to see so many of my old friends from days gone by. Many of them I hadn't seen in a long time. Some had sad stories to tell - others stories of joy. Isn't that life? The single sustaining factor in all of it is the grace of Jesus guiding us through. If you haven't done it today, take time to thank Him for carrying you through.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

A few notes on football

I don't often discuss sports. Not because I don't love it, but because it's not the passion of my life. That spot is already taken. But I've got a few things on my mind this miserable afternoon.
OUTCOACHED - again. Stop me if you've heard this before. I'm a big fan of coach Mack Brown and his style (my wife calls me a "Mack apologist), but let's be honest. Mack Brown and the UT coaching staff were (again) taken to the woodshed by Coach Bob Stoops - again. Talent-level, it was just about even. Yet for the 6th time in 8 years, our coaches found a way to lose a very winable game. Intolerably frustrating is a fair description. Combine that with poor decisions by (I believe) an injured quaterback and you have a loss. Another year of just hoping we can make it to the Holiday Bowl. Don't get me wrong - San Diego is not a bad place. It's my favorite vacation spot to tell you the truth. But that's not the goal. Nor is 2 conference losses before October 10. Ugh! In case you're counting, the Longhorns are 25-6 in the 2000's for the month of October. All 6 losses are to OU.
As for our beloved Frankston Indians, there are a few things I haven't told you. This year, I've been serving as team chaplain and general go-fer. I've also been serving as one of two team videographers. As such, I get to stand on top of the press-box with my partner. Can't ask for a better view, home or away. It's not all good, however, as last night proved definitively. We played at Mildred, near where we lived for more than 7 years, Corsicana. I was genuinely looking forward to it, win or lose. As it turns out, we lost a hard-fought game, 21-14. I can live with that - our kids played hard - it just didn't work out this time. What bothers me was some of the things I heard from the Mildred coaching staff. I don't know those men, but it always concerns me when I hear men who are charged with helping boys become men use "salty" language. Furthermore, at one point, one athlete was clearly not in the game mentally. One of the coaches, from the roof of the press-box over the crowd for all to hear, shouted down to the athlete telling him "I'm up here! Come up here if you don't like it!" I was embarassed for him. A grown man talking to a 16 yr old boy. Unacceptable. Is it a wonder many of our boys are confused as to what a man is supposed to be about?
In closing, I've just one thing to say - GO COWBOYS!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

C.F.D. Moule - The Passing of a Legend

Christian scholarship has lost a true legend, a giant in his field. Dr. Moule, or "Charlie" as he was known to friends, went home to be with the Lord this week. Perhaps you've never heard of him - here's a link to his full obituary. Throughout my studies, I encountered Dr. Moule and his writings such as Birth of the New Testament and An Idiom Book of the Greek New Testament. What I didn't know as much of was his work within the church. A committed churchman, Dr. Moule was sought after as a speaker on special occasions and ordination services. A true gentleman, Dr. Moule's work as both a scholar and a churchman is the kind of mold I hope for the Lord to fit me into. Lord, thanks for sending us men like Dr. Moule to imitate.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Unbelievable - in a good way!

As I told you a few weeks ago, I'm a huge fan of flight simulators. I've flown all over the world via my little computer at home. The good folks at Google Earth (a free download!) have recently updated their software to include a flight simulator with their unbelievable mapping system. Wow! I took a little 5 minute flight around Los Angeles - you won't believe it. Many of these simulators are expensive and the graphics are only so-so. Not this one. All you have to do is download Google Earth and enter the term "Lilenthal"into the "Fly to" box. WARNING: Don't even think about it if you've got dial-up access to the internet. But if you've got high-speed and any interest at all in geography, here's your chance!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Old books are awesome

One of my favorite things to do is hang out in the archive area of libraries. Call it the scholar in me. I love the texture of old books in my hands and the smell of aged leather and parchment. I love having to squint to make out old handwriting by the original author or owner. I love the dust that gets stirred up opening books sealed for years. It makes my heart beat fast. I know - I'm pitiful. I found a story the brought excitement to my heart! A library of aged books at the New Orleans Theological Seminary Library sat for a long while unnoticed. Finally, someone wondered what they might have in their rare books and archives section so they hired a rare books expert and let her come take a look. WOW! They found treasures galore. Works by authors such as Ulrich Zwingli, Theordore Beza and Martin Luther. Some books had hand-written notes by Charles Spurgeon, a famous pastor from London. An unbelievable wealth of resources, this group of works survived Hurricane Katrina in plastic storage bins on the second floor of the library. It goes to show you, never toss out a book simply because it's old! Here's the link to the story.

Welcome to October - the month of Julie

When you see my lovely wife, make sure to wish her a happy birthday. October 27th is her birthday - generally speaking, I try to celebrate it all month long. Why? We got married (May 6) the day before my birthday (May 7) and every year we take our vacation around that time so we always make a splash with mine by celebrating it somewhere else. In 2001, we celebrated in Houston at Minute Maid Park. In 2002, we celebrated at Turner Field in Atlanta. In 2004, we celebrated at Wrigley Field in Chicago. In 2005, we celebrated it at Petco Park in San Diego. In 2006, we celebrated at Tropicana Field in Tampa, FL. This year, we celebrated at Safeco Field in Seattle. Seeing a trend? Part of our vacation is to visit a different baseball park around the country. No, it wasn't my idea! It was hers! We honeymooned in Boston. You can't go to Boston and miss Fenway Park! Thus, a tradition was born.
So, because I married so very well, I try to make her birth-month an extra special celebration. We're going to a symphony at the Meyerson Symphony Hall in Dallas later in the month. I've got a few other secrets in the hopper, but I can't tell you about them here - she might be reading this! - see me in person for more info!