Friday, February 29, 2008

The creature is coming!

We visited a lovely family last night who've been visiting our church for sometime now and are considering joining our fellowship. When they visited last week, I asked if we could drop and they quickly agreed! So last night, Julie and I dropped by. Their three (almost four) year old was excited to say the least! When she learned I was to come, she'd been telling people "The creature is coming! The creature is coming!" I'm glad to know I at least qualify as a creature! What a delightful visit we had. Better yet, they have a Wii! We'll definitely be making a return visit there!

Update on Jimmy Smith

I received a call from our dear friend Jim Smith this morning, all the way from Kansas City, MO, where he and Sue are for their son Jimmy's funeral tomorrow. The police have ruled Jimmy's death accidental. Apparently, he was cleaning his target shooting weapon when it discharged. Please continue to pray for Jim, Sue, Jimmy's daughters and the rest of the family through this difficult time.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Services set for Jimmy Smith

Funeral services for Jimmy Smith will be Saturday morning at 10 AM at St. Mark's Catholic Church in Indenpendence, Missouri (suburb of Kansas City where Jimmy lived). He'll be brought back here that evening.

Visitation will be at Autry Funeral Home here in Frankston from 5-7 PM, Sunday evening, March 2.

Graveside services will be Monday morning at Frankston City Cemetery, 10 AM.

February 26 was not my favorite day

Some days are better than others. Some days are worse. Yesterday was in the "worse" category. Our dear friends Jim and Sue Smith lost their 39 yr old son yesterday. We'll lay him to rest later in the week at Frankston City Cemetery. Jimmy was about my age, bringing the tragedy even closer to home. I sat with them and grieved for awhile saying little or nothing since there are no words for sorrow that deep. We'll formulate a church response when we have exact funeral arrangements.
Jimmy grew up here and was baptized at our previous facility. He leaves behind two lovely daughters who'll miss their daddy deeply and two grief stricken parents who'll miss their beloved son.
Last night, I got a call from some dear friends in Corsicana, people I've known since at least 2001. Or at least I thought I knew them. "Fred" (not his real name) left his family, abandoning his beautiful teenage daughters and his wife of more than two decades. May I be transparent for a moment? I wanted to get in my truck, drive over to Corsicana and pick up a buddy of mine and then find "Fred". We'd take turns whupping him until he came back to his senses! Pray for "Fred" and his family.
When I went to bed last night, I laid awake for sometime talking with the Lord asking what in the world was going on! I was reminded of his comments in John 10 - "I am the Good Shepherd and I care for my sheep." In other words, when you don't understand the plan, understand the Shepherd. Join me in praying that the Good Shepherd will shower his comfort, mercy and grace on all those who need it today.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A powerful video

Like yesterday's post, I don't normally make it a habit to recommend a YouTube video (too much junk!). But there are exceptions and today's post qualifies. Randy Pausch, PhD, a professor at Carnegie-Mellon University, was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He made the decision to use his remaining days with his family so he gave one last lecture. About 10 minutes in length, it's unbelievably worth your time. Here's it is.

Monday, February 25, 2008

A provocative film by Ben Stein?

I don't frequently encourage people to see movies and I'm not necessarily endorsing this one, but it's definitely food for thought. Back in January, one Sunday evening we discussed Darwinism and the "cult-like" following it has. To be a scientist and be respected by the scientific community, you must join the cult and follow it in lock-step fashion or risk being "outed" as a weak thinker, non-scientific theist with an automatic agenda for foist religion on people with or without their permission. Pretty heavy, no? Especially for people who claim to aspire to the high ideals of academic freedom. But what, exactly, does that mean if we all must agree Darwin was right? Is there NO room for discussion?

That's the question asked by Ben Stein in a new movie about to be released called "Expelled." All I've seen is the trailer right now, but even that makes me say maybe Ben, after having given away all his money (you do remember the show "Win Ben Stein's Money"?) and having checked the roll for Ferris Bueller one last time (go rent "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" and you'll understand that one), has finally begun to ask some penetrating questions. Here's a link to the site.

Reflections on the weekend

We laid my friend Shane and his lovely daughter, Kalee, to rest on Saturday. They were deeply loved and it showed. They invested themselves in the lives of people and in the Kingdom of God. They poured themselves out and found the Lord ready to receive them. We'll miss them, but we know they're at home today.
As far as those of us left here, we were absolutely overwhelmed facility-wise. We had no idea we'd have somewhere around 800 people in attendance. Our auditorium seats 400 comfortably, 450 if we squeeze in a few chairs, 500 if we line the walls with people standing. We had another 75-80 seated in folding chairs in the foyer. The rest just had to make do, a fact we'll work on for next time (let's hope it's under happier circumstances. Our parking was woefully inadequate - people parked as far away as the Maxwell pharmacy three blocks to our north. A special thanks is due to the Cooper Funeral Home of Athens and Gina, our wonderful and amazing janitor who put the building back together Saturday night in time for Sunday.
Please continue to pray for Lisa and Emily Morgan, our friends at Hilltop Baptist Church and our community.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Mary Alexander

It's funny how often these things travel in bunches. Mary Alexander passed away yesterday afternoon. While she was not a member of church, many of her family members are. Her service will be Sunday at the Methodist church here in Frankston.

May the Lord bless Pete Westbrook

Pete Westbrook passed away quietly tonight around 5 PM. Bro. Pete was ordained as a deacon at FBC in 1949 making him our longest tenured deacon. When the Lord called Pete home, he was in the town he loved so much and so long and had some of his family with him. We'll honor Pete at a funeral service on Monday. We'll announce the time either tomorrow or Sunday. Pray for Pete's family. Pete was 90 years of age and had lived an honorable and godly life. He served his country in WWII and served his church faithfully. We're indebted to Pete and his family for their faithful service.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

An exciting discovery

When people find out I'm a New Testament textual criticism guy (and once they gather in what that means - :-), one of the first questions I get is usually "hasn't all that been done already?" The answer is an unequivocal NO! Why not? Because we keep finding things! Here's a link to a story that broke this week about a stash of manuscripts just located in an Egyptian monastery. While the evaluation of the manuscripts is far from complete, it's a wonderful discovery fraught with possibilities.
BTW, if you'd like to discuss my hobby of New Testament textual criticism, drop by and let me bore you with it for awhile. It's a fascinating field constantly growing and changing as it evolves. Relatively young, the science of textual criticism really took of in the mid 1800's under the leadership of B.F. Westcott and F. J. A. Hort, both of whom were British professors and church leaders. Google their names to learn about these amazing men and their beloved studies.

Hold onto your hats!

I had to read this one twice and perhaps you will as well. This morning, it's reported that Stanford University, one of the finest and most prestigious universities on the west coast, will be allowing students who are accepted coming from families making less than $100,000 annually, to attend Stanford tuition FREE! That's a $36,000 savings per year! Wow. If I were a senior, I would apply even if I hadn't considered it before. Here's a link to the full story.
Why the change? Plain and simple, they've got the money. Their endowment is over $17 billion. All tax-exempt, that money enables the school to continue funding the operating expenses, pay salaries and provide financial aid. It's one the best endowed schools in the country (behind Harvard, Yale and followed closely by Notre Dame). Their level of endowment has grown significantly faster than inflation meaning their pricing didn't match how much people were making. Bravo for Stanford having the courage to step out to do this! I don't see the Ivy Leaguers doing it!
At the same time, I can't help but wonder if that was the idea of endowment in the first place - a giant tax-exempt safety net. Some churches do that - gather a huge nest egg and sit on it, protecting it's position. While there's nothing wrong with having money in the bank, it must not be at the expense of our mission! Pray with me for the vision to see how the Lord would lead us in the spending of His money.

Monday, February 18, 2008

An awesome conference is available!

Last week I came across this but didn't have time to tell you about it until now. Are you interested in the textual background of the New Testament? Ever had an interest in hearing two world-renowned scholars debate and discuss the New Testament? Ever had a desire to go to New Orleans Seminary for a two-day conference? Then come and go with me! April 4-5 at New Orleans Seminary, Dr. Bart Ehrman and Dr. Daniel Wallace will be participating in the Greer-Heard Lecture Series (click here for the full story). It's cheap enough ($10) and close enough (7 hours to New Orleans) and filled with amazing scholars from literally around the world. You'll find no better opportunity for learning about the reliability of the New Testament text than here. If you'd be interested in going, drop me a note or call me and let's talk about it! I've already bought my ticket! (Don't worry - I'll be back in time for Sunday services).

Update on Lisa Morgan

Many of you have inquired as to how Lisa Morgan, Shane's wife, is doing following their accident last week. Lisa is doing well and about to have another surgery on her broken arm but looks to be released from the hospital later in the week. Emily, their 4 yr old, was released over the weekend and is doing well. Thanks for praying for them as they move forward under the grace of God. Services are still being planned and prepared for Shane and Kaylee. I'll drop you a note here when they're finalized.
Our friends at Hilltop Baptist Church had a special guest yesterday - Rev Larry Morgan, Shane's dad and missionary to Africa. From all accounts, Rev. Morgan's message was powerful. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ guide them as well.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

My friend Shane

We've had a wild 24 hours. 24 hours ago, my friend Shane Morgan was still the pastor of Hilltop Baptist Church. He was 34 yrs old, full of life and the father, husband and pastor for his family and his church. Last night, involved in a horrific head-on accident, Bro. Shane as well as his 12 year old daughter Kalee, are home with Jesus. His wife, Lisa, and their 4 yr old, Emily, survived but are in critical and serious condition respectively. Pray for my friend Shane's family. Pray for Hilltop Baptist Church. Pray for our community. May the Lord show his mercy and his comfort through these dark days.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Congrats to our Lady Maidens!

On the strength of Jerrica Hatton's 17 pts, our Lady Maidens prevailed last night over Garrison 45-42. Next up is Big Sandy Harmony @ Kilgore High School Friday at 7 PM (we think it's Friday - the Tyler Paper didn't give a date but did give an opponent). I was just checking the brackets. IF we win ours and the Blooming Grove ladies win theirs, we'll meet them in the next round, a rematch from district play. Nice work ladies and good luck!

Monday, February 11, 2008

New Testament Manuscripts

The press release they promised regarding the New Testament Manuscript find is slightly delayed. Heaven only knows what the hold-up us. Nevertheless, here's the link to where they WILL announce it.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

A response to the arrogance of Berkley

Perhaps you read recently that the city of Berkley, CA has asked the US Marine Corps to leave. Going even further, if the Marines choose to stay, they do as "unwelcome, uninvited and unwanted intruders." Hmmmmmm. If I remember correctly, Berklye was a part of the US when the Marines fought to protect them in every military conflict since California was admitted. Nevertheless, they are exercising the freedom our Marines (and Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard) fought (and are fighting!) to protect. There are, however, consequences to freedoms such as that. Here's a letter from Mr. Brian G Dennad who is also using his freedom to choose. Below, I've enclosed his letter to the city of Berkley.


Dear Mayor Bates,

In that you and your city have chosen to gravely insult the brave men and women, who have indeed bought you that right with their blood, I am informing you that my company will no longer do business with any of our current suppliers located in the Berkeley, California metro area.

In that my company is in international resort real estate development, and do business with and am associated with, developers and investors worldwide, I am informing all of my contacts, associates and patrons that we will no longer do any business of any sort with anyone living in the Berkeley area.

In that we/MDG Resorts are currently building a state of the art mega-yacht marina, all of the suppliers of Marina equipment, all owners of Yachts , all suppliers of Yacht materials & supplies, all yacht brokers and all tangential yacht business purveyors will likewise be informed that we will not do any business whatsoever with anyone from the Berkeley area.

Likewise all suppliers of building

materials, both interior and exterior, currently associated with any of our several resort developments (Brisamar 300+ villas and 200+ condos: Porto Hussong, www.portohussong.com <http://www.portohussong.com/> 500+ condos, 180 slip mega-yacht marina) both of which I might add have international recognition by virtue of glowing reports in Robb Report, Wall Street Journal, Yacht World, Forbes.

I will likewise inform all of our investors, most of whom are very wealthy yacht owners, casino owners, high net worth international businessmen, of our decision to essentially boycott all products and providers located in, or associated with in any way whatsoever, Berkeley, Ca.

Trust me when I say that having been in the real estate development business for over 35 years, our list of contacts and associates is long and very, very impressive. We, and I personally, are going to recomend that they ALL along with us boycott your city, its purveyors, suppliers, and businesses and CHARITIES of every kind.

You have every right to choose to take the obnoxious anti-military stance you have taken, and as stated, that right was bought for you with the blood of better men than you.

I too have every right to do all that I can to insure that your city suffers consequences arising from that obnoxious, sickening stance.

Cordially,

Brian G Dennard

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Perspective is everything

So I got an email from my amazing father-in-law David Brown yesterday, underscoring what I already knew - getting enough perspective to see all of the story is a powerful force. This Sunday's message "Keep the Change" emphasizes that very point - change is kept by altering our perspective on life. The pictures I've got for you also emphasize that.

When I got the email, I wondered about the truck that had wrecked out. As it turns out, it had been traveling from right to left, crashed through the guard-rail and flipped over to where we see it. Thanks God he didn't crash into the culvert, right? Then you look at the picture below - the culvert was the least of his worries! But you don't know that without the proper perspective! Take a look at the picture below to see what I mean.


Union University, Jackson, TN

Last night while many of us were at the Methodist Pancake Supper, our friends in Jackson, TN were enduring a tornado. It struck Union University, one of our Southern Baptist colleges with esp ferocity, destroying the residence halls and one classroom building. While many were hurt, none were killed. "It's a miracles of the Lord" says Dr. David Dockery, president of Union. I've got some friends who teach and work at Union. Would you join me in praying for them today?

Ash Wednesday

Given that we survived Fat Tuesday, today is the day you ask for forgiveness for the revelry of the last week. Known at least since the 8th century, the Catholic liturgy calls today dies cinerum or "day of ashes." If you observe as has been done historically, an Ash Wednesday service includes a cross created by the priest on your forehead, right above your nose, made from ashes. The ashes are symbolic of the grief caused by sin and our desire to forsake that sin. Here's the real problem - some people aren't sorry enough for their sin to feel any real brokenness and therefore they don't want to repent. They LIKE their sin and don't want to leave it. It's become almost a joke to speak of repentance. Sin is something to be sought and embraced like a long-lost friend or a relative come home. Let's pray for our nation that we abandon that and seek the Lord with repentance and brokenness, seeking grace only the Lord can give.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Fat Tuesday is here!


Otherwise known as Mardi Gras (French for "Fat Tuesday), today is a long-standing tradition of sinfulness! The idea is simple: sin as much as you want, making yourself "fat" on it, before Ash Wednesday, the day when the Season of Lent begins and you have to start preparing for Easter's arrival 40 days later. I've heard it explained to me this way: "I've got to have something to confess when I get to Ash Wednesday, so I might as well make it something good!" Hmmmmmmm. I'll have to study on that.
On second thought, no I won't. That argument holds no water. That same argument was used by people during the Apostle Paul's time. In Romans 6:1-2, he says it this way: "So what shall we say? Is it possible to go on sinning so that grace looks even better? Absolutely not! We died to sin; is it possible to go on living in it?" (Wood Translation) Grace is a gift freely given, but it was anything but cheap. Events like the Mardi Gras festival in New Orleans and the Carnevale Festival in Sao Paulo, Brazil are flimsy excuses to act as morons and live in a shameful way. I want to be free from sin on all days of the year.
On a related note, it's been a long-standing tradition to "give something up for the season of Lent." For most Catholics, it's meat with Friday being the exception when you can have fish. In fact, the name for the Mardi Gras festival in Brazil implies this. Carne-vale - translated "meat goodbye". For the last several years, I've given something up for the season of Lent, but this year I've not really felt the Lord's leadership in any area. (I don't know if that means I'm doing great or I'm beyond hope!) If you'd like to try it, Lent begins tomorrow at sundown.

Monday, February 04, 2008

149 years ago today. . .

On this date in 1859, Constantine von Tischendorf (click here for his Wikipedia biography) found Codex Sinaiticus at St. Catherine's Monestary at Mt. Sinai. Codex Sinaiticius (pictured below) is a wonderful example of 4th century Greek script. It contains the entire New Testament, portions of the Old Testament and a few non-canonical books like The Shepherd of Hermas and The Epistle of Barnabas. It's one of the earliest complete copies we've found anywhere in the world. As you can see from the picture, it's exemplary in its clarity and precisons. In all of its 346.5 pages, the lines and lettering are equally crisp and clear making far easier to work with that some of the other documents. Many have surmised that it's a sister manuscript to the Codex Vaticanus residing at the Vatican. Many more have surmised that both belong to the group of 50 manuscripts commissioned by Emperor Constantine in the early 325 AD. Share with me in marking this special day!

Super Bowl Party

We got a pleasant surprise Sunday night. After our evening service, Bro Kris Hutchins called asking if they could move the Super Bowl party to our house. The reception at the 105 was terrible he said, and they really wanted to see the game. Of course, Julie and I agreed. So, in not very long, we had a houseful (and I do mean a houseful!) of teenagers. The best count I got was somewhere around 30. I'll post some pictures we took at the event but a special thanks to Kris for putting the event together and bringing the pizza!