Thursday, December 10, 2009

We're going to fight it

As promised, here's my take on the upcoming alcohol referendum for Jacksonville. For the record, let me say I'm not opposed to someone having a drink. If someone wants to drink, that's between them and the Lord. The Bible only proclaims not to get drunk. My problem is saying we want to bring it into our city as an endorsed revenue stream. Enough precursor - here goes.

On Wednesday of last week, I met for an organizational meeting for those of us opposed to the Jacksonville beer/wine referendum coming to us this spring. If there's one thing we DON'T need in Jacksonville, it's more beer and wine. People can already get it at least at Chilis, etc. - why do we need to enable them to bring it home with them too?

Please don't tell me about tax revenue. I lived in Corsicana when the same referendum passed there in 2004. We were assured there would be "huge" financial benefits. It would aid the city in many ways. There would be no "down side". That was five years ago. Although we don't live there anymore, many of our friends do and here's what we've learned since 2004. It's been such a "blessing" to the city, they are running a deficit budget this year and next. Meanwhile, the cost of having has been more than the benefit. It does NOT pay.

I'm also well aware of famed economist Mr. Ray Perryman's statistics showing the financial benefit of beer / wine sales. But I've learned that some things aren't worth the trouble - this is one of them. If no other reason, those who will be most directly affected by this are those who can least afford to spend their meager income on beer and wine. What about our children? Who wants to explain all those cases of beer and wine stacked like mad at Wal-Mart? Anyone believe our teenagers won't find a way to purchase beer / wine from one of our local vendors? What about the people in low-income brackets who can't afford to drive to Cuney or Rusk but can afford to walk to the convienence store? Who'll be there to help them when the rent money is spent on beer / wine and they are evicted? The alcohol related domestic abuse? Alcohol related child abuse? Anytime a business like Brookshire Brothers spends $23,000 (in Rusk) to see a measure passed, we can be sure they aren't spending money but making it. They'll earn that back in a month. But we'll be stuck with it, good and bad.

But at what cost to the quality of life in Jacksonville? I read with interest the column on the Daily Progress front page last week proclaiming "Cuney has seen no negative impact from alcohol." So Cuney is what we aspire to? Have you been to Cuney? Without disparaging our neighbors, I drive through there twice a day and it's not the kind of place I would want to live. If you want to buy alcohol, it's a great place to go. If you want ANYTHING ELSE, you've got to leave Cuney because alcohol is all they sell. Literally, there are no other business of merit there.

I have no doubt there's money to be made in alcohol sales. The problem I have is the cost of selling it. Some will say "But our tax dollars are driving out of town to get it - why not have it here and keep that money at home?" To that, I say let someone else / another town pay for the additional cost of increased police controls, increased jail space, etc.. Furthermore, if we're going to use that argument, let's apply it to other venues like these: let's legalize and tax gambling since so many people drive to Shreveport. Let's legalize and tax prostitution since so many are going to go out of town to find that as well. Let's legalize and tax drug use. . . . You get the idea. The argument is simply not sustainable.

I know we've got some church members who want beer and wine sales in Jacksonville. Respectfully, I love them and ask you to do the same despite our disagreement. But on this matter, for the first time since 2004 in Corsicana, I'll speak openly and throw whatever I can toward seeing this matter defeated. I don't have another viable solution to increase tax revenues, but I'm firmly convinced on this: we don't need it and it won't help us live better lives in Jacksonville.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Reflections

- Welcome Ticer family! They are our newest CBC members and we're thrilled to have them!
- When you see Stefanie Robison, hug her warmly! The water we used to baptize her was frigid! If she hadn't had so many family members present, I would've pulled the plug and done her another time. Thanks for being such a trooper Stefanie - you won't soon forget it!
- Thanks to Sheryl Hanna, Steve Edwards and all of our choir and musicians for their exceptional work in the Hanging of the Green service Sunday night! It was awesome!
- A special word of thanks to Doug Ilsley, our tech guy. He had a big job on Sunday, both morning and evening, and pulled both off well! Even with the trouble in Brandon finding a working microphone, Doug works at his task seriously and with great effort. Pray for him and the others on our tech team.
- This Sunday is our Christmas program entitled "A Splash of Christmas!" Trust me - I've heard parts of it - you will not want to miss this!
- I read with great interest over the last several days about how an local option alcohol election is being planned for us in Jacksonville. That shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. I've got some thoughts on the issue and, later in the week, I'll address that issue right here - check back with me.
- MISSIONS - I love MISSIONS! We're more than halfway to our goal of $110,000 for our mission offering this year. Thanks for your generosity and faithfulness in supporting missions across the world and across the street. Steve Edwards and I met for nearly two hours yesterday discussing missions in 2010 (and beyond!). We'll be talking about more in the coming weeks as we get our plans finalized.
- I've got no good reason to feel this way, but I've always sort of felt like I'm really a part of a church once I've celebrated Christmas with them. Thanks to each of you who have made our first Christmas at Central so wonderful! We've been to a couple of parties thus far and have several more coming - and we're thrilled about that! Thanks for your kindness, warmth, love and friendship this Christmas season as we welcome Christ.
- How's your fast doing? I've chosen three things to fast from and let me tell you - it's been harder than I thought! Thanks to those who are encouraging each other to continue on! It's only two more weeks till Christmas!
- Ruby Staton is retiring next week. She's been our financial secretary for more than 20 years and has decided the Lord is leading her to spend some time with her husband, Gene (aka Mean Gene! :-) ) . Pray for her transition. Pray for the CBC office as we seek a new secretary. We'll be moving some of our existing staff around so pray for that as well. We'll honor Ruby's service to our church after evening worship on Dec 20th.
- Ray Vardaman is also leaving his position as a our interim music leader. We'll honor Ray following our morning service on Dec 20th.
- I'm beginning to think I'm no fun to work with! Do have BO? Or halatosis? Or, more likely, the Lord is simply guiding people where He would choose for them to serve Him best and it has nothing to do with me. Pray for these transitions, wont' you?
- This Sunday, we'll be talking about Luke 2:8-20 - the Shepherds and their role in the Christmas story. They are among the least like heroes of the story and yet God chooses them (THEM!) to be the first who hear the good news. Pray for Sunday's message and worship time.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

I'm an outlaw

The Manhattan Declaration
I did something today I never thought I would - I signed a document declaring that I would be openly and civilly disobedient to the laws that speak against (1) The sanctity of human life (2) The re-definition of marriage and (3) the rights of conscience and liberty. The document is called the Manhattan Declaration. Read more about it (or sign it yourself) here. I've never been a political machine on any level, but I've grown weary of being told what and how I may speak to issues. For example, every so often, I get what I call a "threat letter" from a group like the Americans United for the Separation of Church and State (what they REALLY mean is they are trying to FORCE the separation of church and state). These letters usually warn me against speaking to any political issue or candidate, no matter the grounds from which the issue springs. If I speak out and get caught (not terribly hard given we're on the radio and TV!), my church will lose our non-profit status. I've never really worried about it, but it's become clear in the last few years that I should. Not in fear mind you - rather in the realization that we are far from home. We're just passing through in bodies that weren't meant for us to keep forever (2 Corinthians 5). The Manhattan Declaration was written for those same reasons. There can only be ONE final authority. For me, that authority is God himself, expressed through His word. If there's a principle that violates the character or God or His word, I'll speak against. Not in anger, but definitely with clarity. I'd rather agree with God on issues than have men's applause. Consider signing the document. Consider being a part of the solution instead of just a bystander.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

A recommendation

I don't often recommend sites. Therefore, when I do, they're well worth your time. The site / widget you see below is one of those that's well worth your time. A few weeks ago, I mentioned Dr. James Denison in one of the illustrations I used on a Sunday morning. Although he's no longer pastoring a specific church, he's still very active in ministry. Presently, he is theologian in residence at the Baptist General Convention of Texas headquartered in Dallas. He also directs the Center for Informed Faith and writes a daily column called "God Issues". Below is the widget he's just released for use with his site. Take a look - it's outstanding stuff!

Monday, November 23, 2009

"The Blind Side" review

Julie and I went to see "The Blind Side" Friday afternoon. We got there late, the theater was full and we had to sit waaaaaayyyyy to close to the screen for my comfort, but the movie is fabulous. (actually, we had to wade through miles of "Twilight: New Moon" fans - what's the deal with that movie / series? It turns even grown people into morons!) "The Blind Side" tells some of the story of Michael Oher, currently the left tackle for the Baltimore Ravens football team. While Michael is doing well now, such was not always the case. In fact, were it not for the intervention of Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, the story of Michael might be one of a life cut short, were it to be told at all.
Michael's mother and father were absentee and, although a ward of the state, Michael was largely homeless. Through the intervention of a friend, Michael found himself enrolled at Briarcrest Christian Academy in Memphis. With a less than stellar academic record (spotty attendance- including at least one year they couldn't account for at all - and a less than 1.00 GPA), he was admitted as a special-needs case.
On a cold night in Memphis, the Tuohys (a wealthy family in their own right), who also had children at Briarcrest, saw Michael walking alone. Through a course of events, they brought him home and became his legal guardians, paid for his tuition, cared for him when no one else did and, truly, acted the part of being like Christ.
Texan Sandra Bullock plays Leigh Anne in the movie and here's what she had to say about the Tuohys "I've finally met someone who practices, but doesn't preach....I now have faith in those who say they represent a faith. I finally met people who walk the walk."
All because some people decided to act on their convictions. Whereas some have accused them of doing it for themselves since Michael is now earning more than $10 million, be reminded that they didn't know that on that cold Memphis night when they found him. They did, however, know of the command of Christ to care for those who can't care for themselves. I love the way James says it in James 2:17-18 (The Message): "Isn't it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense? You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from my works. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove"
Here's the best article I've found about Michael's story. Click anywhere it's underlined.

Monday Morning Reflections

- Welcome to Stefanie Robison, our newest CBC family member! We're so pleased to have Stefanie join us yesterday through her profession of faith in Christ! We'll baptize her in the next few weeks. In the meantime, do what you do best CBC - make her feel at home.
- What a turnout for the Thanksgiving celebration last night! To those who thought they could bribe Steve Edwards into calling your table next, apparently, your offer wasn't as good as someone else's offer! :-)
- I got a forwarded note from our friends in Germany, listening to us (via the internet) from their side of the Atlantic! Thanks for the encouraging words and kindness!
- It's Thanksgiving week, so that means no Wednesday activities and an unusual schedule for most everyone this week. Before you sit down to your meal on Thursday, spend some time with the Lord thanking him for the last year. While not everything in the past year is necessarily good, the very fact you're here to be concerned about it means the Lord has carried you through it thus far. Take some time to thank the Lord this week.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Reflections for the week

We're home - finally. It's been a busy week! We left Sunday night for Houston for the annual meeting of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. Our church contributes a significant portion of our annual budgetary receipts to the BGCT so for us it was a stewardship move. We listened, we voted, we fellowshipped with other pastors. A few gripes, but mostly they were about the hotel and the city instead of the convention itself. For example, when I stay at a Motel 6, I get free parking and wi-fi. They usually even throw in a free breakfast as well. The Hyatt Regency downtown charges for all of those things at ridiculous rates. Let's just say I won't be wasting time or money with them again.

Enough gripes. As for the convention, it was a great reminder of the partnership we're in with the other churches belonging to the Baptist General Convention. You may not know it, but there are more than 5,000 member churches scattered across the state of Texas. Not only that, there are nine colleges/ universities attached to us, five hospitals, two children's homes, numerous Christian camps and lots of sub-ministries attached to each of those. We're a part of something HUGE! Thanks for letting us run away from home for a few days to be a part of the planning and stewardship partnership for the coming year. Pray for the work of the BGCT, won't you?

After work on Thursday, we left for Oklahoma City to share a time of fellowship with our friend and hopeful-Congressman James Lankford. There was a party thrown in his honor recognizing his years of service to the churches of Oklahoma. His friends / co-laborers were kind enough to invite us to join in. While we were there, we visited my sister, Karen, who lives in Oklahoma City and teaches nursing there. She's significantly smarter than I am and is presently about 1/2 through with her PhD in nursing. (BTW, my other sister, Winona, was notified she has been accepted in a Master's program for licensing in Physical Therapy. Congrats to her!). We ate lunch with Karen and then went to see "The Blind Side", the movie I recommended to you last week. OUTSTANDING! I'll write next week about that.
Back to James, I'm reminded of Abraham. In Genesis 17, God called Abraham to go to a place he would be shown later. His instruction was to simply go. Explanation not provided. That seems to be how this experience has been for James. While running for Congress is something well within his reach, it's not something he had necessarily planned. It reminded me of another time when I was a youth pastor in Oklahoma. I sensed the Lord calling me to leave a good job, a good home and go to do PhD work. I called James, partially hoping he would talk me out of it. Instead, he poured fuel on the fire. So I left Oklahoma with no job, no promises of a job, no promises I could even get into PhD work. Nevertheless, the counsel James offered was sound and wise. When James called me last year about running for Congress, I was humbled that he would ask my meager counsel and prayed I would be as much help as he has been for me. Indeed, I told him, it seems like a good fit. We need men like James in Congress so we're doing something I've never done - making a campaign contribution. Pray for James and the 5th Congressional District in Oklahoma. Even if James were to lose the election, it doesn't matter - obedience is the key issue. How about you? Are you living in obedience? How big is your vision?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Wow. I'm a little behind on this one, but here you go

So I'm catching up on some of my favorite blogs this evening since Julie is on a "girls night out" and I find this video about a church in North Carolina that held a book burning. At first, I thought there was nothing new there. What shocked me was what books they were burning.

Remember when I discussed with you that I wanted us to be known more for what we are FOR than what we're against? The church in North Carolina disagrees. Have you ever heard of the Dean Burgon Society? Those who subscribe to his thought believe that ANY Bible other than the King James Version is evil and should be destroyed. The aforementioned church in NC is one of those. Not only that, they took a step further, deciding for God who's works are evil and deserving of destruction as well. I don't know whether to be: (1) Shocked such a group still exists (2) saddened by the irony of their judgmental actions and their name - "Amazing Grace Baptist Church" or (3) Offended by dissertation wasn't singled out for destruction as well! :-) Take a look at the video - if you dare.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Random stuff

- If you've ever been curious about how the Bible was made and what it means when people talk about "manuscripts", today is your day! The good people in Muenster, Germany who oversee the collection and distribution of the Greek New Testament manuscripts have been kind enough to place much of it online in high-quality digital images for your perusal. Click here to go see it! While the site is in German, it's not hard to figure out where to go. WARNING: It doesn't work with Internet Explorer. They're Apple / Mac people. They optimized it for Firefox or Safari. Even still, it's well worth your time and effort to go see it!
- This weekend we'll be holding a garage sale to raise funds for our mission trip to Germany next summer. Find us at Linda Acker's house. Call the church office for specific directions. Our hope is to defray enough costs to where we can take a group of 25. Never been on a mission trip? You're in luck! We're doing a LOT of training in preparation for the trip. Can't afford it? We've got fundraisers planned to help cut the costs down. We don't have a final price set yet, but we do know when we're going and where. We're going to Hannover, Germany in late July. I know many people have to turn in vacation requests and such before the end of the year. Steve Edwards, Jim Lord, Julie and I will be making an exploratory trip in February so look forward to hearing more specifics as we get closer.
- I'm headed to the HOPE Center today for the first time. I've heard so many fine things about the HOPE Center - I'm pumped about going! I'll give you an update later!
- On the way over this morning, I happened to hear the new Steven Curtis Chapman song "Yours". It's not often that I'm struck speechless by a song on the radio, but this time I was. It is as powerful and visceral a song as I've heard in a long time. I've followed his music since I was in college (and that's a long time ago! :-) ) and have been blessed by doing so. Go to iTunes and download it - it's the best $0.99 you'll spend today!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

This Sunday's message - "Remember!"

This Sunday is a rare occasion - we'll start the service with Baptism and end it with the Lord's Supper. I LOVE it when that happens! We didn't necessarily plan it that way but clearly the Lord did! Our message this week, "Remember", hopes to give you a reminder of what these two remembrances are about. As for this video clip, you've probably seen it before, but it's worth another look if only to hear the congregation laughing!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

A movie worth seeing

I don't make it a habit to recommend movies. Most of them are worthless dribble, harldy worth the time it takes to make them, much less worth my time to waste watching them. That said, there are exceptions. Like this one. I've not seen the movie, but I know the story. Maybe you do too. If not, here's a link to a brief bio. Don't like to read? Check this clip out on his life and you'll understand my recommendation to see this movie.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Monday morning reflections

- What a day we had yesterday! WOW! I've never been more proud to be a pastor. From Erica's song to the choir special, I was blown away. I really (honestly!) consider shutting it down after the music. Yet the message I brought had been burning in my heart all week - I knew the Lord had it in mind for someone. I know our church isn't for everyone, but days like yesterday make that hard to remember! If you weren't here, drop a request to our church office and we'll get you a DVD of the service.

- This will be the last week of our "I LOVE MY CHURCH" series. I don't when I've enjoyed a series more than this one. If we are to reach Jacksonville for Christ, our love for Christ will be evidenced by our love for each other and our community. Pray with me toward that end!

- Welcome Ben Hooper, our newest CBC member! I've known Ben since he was in high school. His dad was a pastor in Hubbard, TX near where I was pastoring in Corsicana. Ben's grown into a fine young Christian gentleman and I'm proud he's here with us in Jacksonville and at CBC.

- A special thanks to Dan and Connie Bennett (that's them on the front row - Scooby and Daphne) who hosted a costume party Saturday night. I've only been to a couple of them in my life, and to be honest I was dragging my feet on this one, but it was awesome! A frightening sight, aren't we?

- Thanks to each of you who came to the "Empty Bowl" Luncheon yesterday at the Activity Center downtown. The turnout was awesome! They asked several local celebrities to paint an empty bowl, sign it, and let them auction it off. I don't know how much money was raised for the HOPE center (a ministry I dearly love!), but I know that my mug went for more than the $75 I bid! All I wanted to stay close to the price Micah Hoffpaiur's (member of the Chicago Cubs baseball team) mug went for and it was at $80 when I left. After all, he's a REAL celebrity! Of course, both of us were left in the dust of Actor Patrick "Dr McDreamy" Dempsey who apparently has a home in our area and Country music singer Neal McCoy.

- Congrats to our Jacksonville Indian Football team who won again last Friday. We'll play Friday night at the Tomato Bowl in the final game of the regular season against Lindale. The winner gets the District 14-4A Championship. As I understand it, we're in the playoffs - it's just a matter of who we'll play and where. Nice job fellas!

- On a non-J-ville note, I'm sad to say Six Flags Over Texas has closed one of my most favorite rides, the Texas Giant. It was built while I was in college, so to see it close is especially sad for me. Plus, I can actually fit onto that ride! They'll be replacing it in the 2011 season, but it's bone-jarring turns and kidney-punching drops will be missed. The Dallas Morning News did a short piece on it. Find it here.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Iron men!

Proverbs 27:17 - "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another."
That's the idea behind CBC's new men's ministry we're calling "Iron Men." As men, we've been taught we don't need anyone. It's a lie! As men we've been taught not to rely on anyone. It's a lie! As men, we've been told we can stand forever on our own. It's a lie! It's a frightening thing to consider how many men are confused about what manhood means. Our hope is that we can work that ought together under the banner of Christ. We're launching our new ministry on Sunday night, Nov 8 doing something most of us would do anyway - eat and watch the Cowboys play football! They're playing the Eagles that night on NBC. Although it wasn't my idea, I heartily endorsed it! We'll meet in the Fishin' Hole (the Youth Building). If you're not a Cowboy fan, you can play pool, ping-pong or foosball. Anyway you stack it, it's a great way to spend the evening. Join us that night as we lay the groundwork for the future of Iron Men. We've got the annual "Beast Feast" planned for early February with a special guest speaker scheduled for that! For now, however, plan to be with us on Nov 8 in the Fishin Hole after the evening worship service.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wednesday nights

I love going to church on Wednesdays! If you've never been (or can't get here), let me tell you about it. Our format on Wednesdays is decidedly casual. We meet in the chapel. We'll pray for the needs on the prayer list and then discuss whatever our topic is for the night. Whereas on Sundays it's much more formal and lecture-type, Wednesdays are much more free-flowing and gentle. Coming on Wednesdays is something I've always done as a means of "topping off the tank" between Sundays. Even as a pastor, however, I find I still need that fellowship and love that you can only find when the church meets together. Put it down - Wednesday nights are cool!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Monday reflections

My bad - I know it's been two weeks since I've been here. Let's just say the Lord has blessed my life with many opportunities for serving Him!
- Welcome John and Kelly Sandoval, our newest CBC members! We're thrilled the Lord has brought you here! We'll get you into a small group and connect you with the right people to make sure CBC really is home for you like it has become for us!
- I did Jacksonville College chapel this morning. It was rainy. It was early. It was miserable! Except inside! :-) Thanks to Tam Clark, dean at JC, and Sheryl Hanna, asst. choral director at JC, and the wonderful student body, it was a great way to begin the week.
- A sad "see you later" is in store for us this week. Tim Zednick, our technical director at CBC, is leaving us this week. Sunday is his last day with us. We'll honor him appropriately Sunday. Please pray for him as he begins this transition. He'll be moving to First Baptist Church in Lewisville to serve with Kelvin Reed, former CBC music pastor.
- HarvestFest is this Saturday! From 1-4 pm on Saturday, our FLC and parking lots will be full of fun stuff! Make plans to be a part of it.
- This Sunday evening, Dr. Harold Rawlings will join us again, sharing with us about the history of the English Bible. He's bringing with him a personal collection of English Bibles - trust me that you won't want to miss it!
- A special thanks to Kim and Kenny Dyess, some of our second newest CBC members. They joined us last week. They hosted a party Saturday night for the Adult 1 Class - it was awesome! I'm still not sure what was in that chili, but I liked it!
- A shout-out to our Jax High School Indian football team. I've been to a lot of high school games in my time, but that one Friday was one of the BEST! 56-55 win in overtime! Kudos to Coach Wells for pulling the trigger on going for two to win. I was up till 1 AM trying to slow the adrenaline rush!
- CBC family, I sure hope you like having Julie and I serve here. Why? Cause if we EVER get this house in Frankston sold, it'll be a LOOOOOONNNNNNGGGGG time till we sell one again! I HATE negotiating the sale of a house! It's a little like Sumo Wrestling - the only difference is you're clothed!

Monday, October 12, 2009

See you on the other side, David

For those who weren't here yesterday morning, I asked for prayer for our friends the Edwards family and the family of First Baptist Church in Corsicana. Dr. David Edwards, pastor of FBC, was tragically killed in a two-vehicle accident near Hubbard. (Here's a link to the full story). David lived a full life and leaves behind a powerful legacy of God's faithfulness, compassion and vision for reaching people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He is survived by his wife, Lyndy, three children and a loving church.
David came to Corsicana in 2006, just about the same time I was finishing PhD work. The Lord's timing was impeccable. I thought I was headed for teaching, but in David, I found a man with equal credentials (he earned a PhD as well) who was serving the people of God by pastoring. In many ways, his influence in my life became a turning point. I had never really considered pastoring as a vocation until that point. He spoke of changed lives, altered destinies and impacted communities, all through the work of pastoring. I began to see in David the man God might make in me. It was his zeal for loving people that spoke to me most. I met with David often and spoke via telephone even more. His guidance and leadership in my life helped me realize God had indeed called me to pastor. He was one who helped me when FBC Frankston came to call and then again when Central came as well.
David and Lyndy came to Jacksonville several weeks ago for the Jacksonville High-Corsicana High football game. We sat at Lupe's Mexican Food across from the Tomato Bowl and talked about our love for our churches, our wives and our Lord. I didn't know it would be the last time we would share fellowship together. If I had, maybe I linger a little longer with David before we got up to go to the game. Maybe I tell him how much influence he's had on my life. Maybe I say thanks for his example of godly passionate leadership. The good news is we'll share fellowship again. The next time, there's no event that will end it. See you on the other side, dear friend.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Monday Morning Reflections

We begin, as I always like to, with a hearty welcome to our newest members! Welcome Lex Ticer, Jack and Melinda Lewis and the Ansley family! We're thrilled the Lord has brought each of you to be a part of our fellowship! We're going to welcome you to Central by saying what we always say: "Welcome HOME!"

- Our first of two Deacon messages - "Deacons and why they deac!" - was a blessing for me as I got ready for yesterday. You won't want to miss this Sunday. We've got a skit to emphasize how a deacon is supposed to look and act (assuming we can get all of our actors well!).

- Sunday School is a GREAT way to get to know people at Central! If you're new to us or are planning to visit, plan to come to to Sunday School. Remember - the church is the church only when there are people inside her walls! The people ARE the Church!

- It's true we were down yesterday with the heavy rain we had. But it's amazing to me what people will get out in the rain for if they choose to! We need PASSIONATE PEOPLE excited about following a PASSIONATE GOD! Anything less is not worthy of our Savior!

- Please continue to pray for the Traylor family. We laid Judy to rest yesterday in the rain. Bro. Hank and Bro. Randy did a fine job officiating the service. Pray for husband Paul, sons, Steven and Kelly, daughter Misty and Judy's grandkids. No matter how long you have to prepare for someone's departure, you're never really ready. We can be grateful she is at home with Lord today. A special word of thanks to the Adult 1 class who provided the meal for the Traylor's last night.

- Our prayers have been requested for Mary Bishop of Jacksonville. She's due to have cancer surgery today. She's already had a couple of rounds of chemo and is still fighting! Pray for her healing.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Praying today. . . .

I want to ask you to pray for some specifics today.
- Kelly Traylor, Cherokee County Commissioner and a deacon at CBC, lost his mother today. She had been ill, then bounced back, but the Lord called her home today. The unexpected passing of anyone is difficult, but even more so for someone so beloved. Please pray for Kelly and his family during this difficult season of life.
- My great-uncle, Ben Hudson, went home to be with the Lord yesterday. Ben had been in poor health for some time. Thus, it was in the mercy of the Lord that the Lord let Ben come home. We appreciate your prayers as we prepare to lay this godly servant of the Lord to rest.
- We have MANY in the J-ville area who are sick. No matter what the disease, it's making its way around town, through the schools and wreaking havoc in its wake. Pray for those who are sick.

"Cast all your cares on Him, for it matters to Him concerning you" (1 Peter 5:7). It's a comfort to me to realize the God of all the universe cares about the problems I face and asks me to give them to Him. Who better to trust them to?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Monday Moring Reflections

- Welcome Jacques and Temica Gooden, our newest members! We're thrilled to have you with us! It's not often we have people join at the BEGINNING of the service, but special people demand special arrangements. (For those who didn't hear it earlier, Temica's work schedule requires her presence before the end of worship, thus we made the special arrangements.
- Special thanks to Doug and Tim for their hard work in the technical arena yesterday - I asked a LOT and they delivered! Thanks fellas! Here's the video I used yesterday if you want to see it again.
- I was blessed by those of you who came to worship yesterday! I never bother to count, but we had a full house again.
- We'll finish our "How Great is Our God" series this Sunday with "A worship service of ONE!" Whereas yesterday we talked about how BIG God is, this Sunday we'll talk about how intimate our relationship can be!
- Believe it or not, this Sunday will be our one month anniversary! Never in my life have I felt so at home so quickly as I have here. Your warmth, graciousness and kind words have made our first days here a blessing beyond words. We look forward to being here for years to come!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

New series on the horizon!

Sunday will mark our one month anniversary at CBC! It's been awesome! I love what I've seen and heard from each of you! I think this is the greatest church in the world and I'm so pumped I get to be a part of it, (much less serve as pastor!)! So here's what we're going to do with this new series. We're going to find out why YOU love CBC and what being a part of Jesus' kingdom here has meant to you. In order to do that, I need some volunteers. If you're interested in helping me there, drop me a note at the email address at the top of the page. I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Things I can't use on Sunday

Occasionally, I'll post things here I've found researching for Sundays but can't find a home for in a message. I usually won't explain how or why I found the item I've placed here, but usually, I found it funny or unusual enough to let you have a shot at. This time, however, a little explanation is due. One of the illustrations I'll be using Sunday is about God's view of us. One of my favorite pictures of this comes from Joyce Landorf's book Balcony People. They love us, regardless of our performance. Leaning over the rail, they applaud our every move and do so with passion and enthusiasm. The video I've posted here is sort of the inverse of that. While Statler and Waldorf are balcony people, their snide remarks, while often hillarious, are inverse of God's methodology for us. Enjoy this trip back to Muppet land!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Update from Oklahoma

I got a call last night from my dear brother James Lankford. Two weeks ago, I shared with you about his decision to run for U.S. Congress. Now, he's deep in its throes. Fundraising, shaking hands, asking people for their vote - you know the plan. While you might think it odd for a minister to be running for Congress (esp given the nasty nature of Washington politics), bear in mind that his decision was hardly entered into lightly. It's one a long time in the making and one he did not enter into unadvisedly. Therefore, I humbly ask for your prayers for James, Cindy and their two daughters as they begin this long journey. There's much work to do and many obstacles to overcome. One person told me although they supported James' decision, they didn't think he stood much of a chance. To that, I responded that my God "can do immeasurably more than I ask or even imagine" (Ephesians 3:20-21). Since God is the author of our lives, only He can write the story.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Monday Reflections

I made it through the rain home last night and back again this morning. Although we needed the rain desperately, I'm glad to see the sun peaking through today! Or at least I was this morning before our internet service went down! I'm glad to see it back!

- I tend to think of the first Sunday after Labor Day as the first Sunday of the church year. What a great start we had!

- A great thanks to Steve Edwards for his exceptional work in putting on our "Fireproof" movie night last weekend. A great night of pizza and a powerful movie! If you haven't seen it, let us know. We'll get you a copy to view!

- Thanks to our LLL (Live Longer and Like it!) Ministry last night. We had a wonderful fellowship after worship last night - even if we did run out of food! Now that's the kind of problem I like to have! It means people are there and they are happy (all those who got food are anyway! :-) ).

- I'm always on the lookout for ministry oppotunities and stuff that God's using in powerful ways. Here's a conference every college student should consider attending. I can assure you - it's powerful, it's relevant and it's worth your time! Take a look at their promo video (2:40 minutes).


- A shout-out to all my Facebook friends out there! You know who you are! If you're on FB and you haven't found us yet, search for either me or "Central Baptist Church Jacksonville" group.

- A shout-out to all my Twitter followers. If you'd like to follow me there, find me at www.twitter.com/Darin610.

One question I've been asked is why I bother with these social networking things. The answer is simple: it's where the people are! Jesus went to the places where people were and sought them out. By doing social networking (among other things), we're doing the same! Maybe that's not how they envisioned their product being used, but who cares? Let's use it for the Kingdom just the same!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

A friend's big news

You remember how on Sunday I said "Some days are bigger than others"? The truth is I've been keeping a secret for a deeply trusted friend. While I was beginning here Sunday, he was about to begin the weirdest journey of our lives.

Meet my friend James Lankford. That's Cindy, his lovely bride, and Hannah, their oldest daughter. They have another daughter, Jordan, as well. They live in Edmond, Oklahoma. James and I have been friends for close to 20 years now. We came to Southwestern Seminary together in 1990. You ever met someone and it's like a long-lost brother? That's how James and I felt. We've served the Lord together through Youth Evangelism and through church ministry. He has a passion for ministry and an even greater passion for people. I've found him to be a man who can be trusted implicitly without fear of reprisal. We were in each other's weddings and have carried our friendship forward despite the distance between us.

About a year ago, James called me on my cell. Nothing unusual there - or so I thought. He was calling to ask me to pray with him about a change in career path, a path he now begins pursuing.

Effective today, James is running for U.S. Congress, 5th district of Oklahoma. It may seem a strange choice to some - a minister running for Congress? - but the reality is that we NEED men who are willing to follow the Lord to that snake pit in D.C. and straighten out that mess! I know we have many who read this blog who have family all over the place. If you have kin in Oklahoma (specifically, Oklahoma County, Seminole County or Pottowatomie County), encourage them to vote for James. If you don't have family there, pray for James, Cindy and their daughters as they begin this journey to Election Day 2010.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

My avocation

One of the things I enjoy most is the study of the Bible. Whether it's for use now or studying the ancients versions of it, my heart beats fast for it. The picture you see at left is the portion of a papyrus version of 1 Peter. It was only recently discovered. For those who say Biblical study is boring, I say you're not doing it right! Here's a link to the site where you can read more about it and learn more about the fascinating world of New Testament studies. Let me know what you think!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Getting my mind right

Each day I get an email from Zondervan Publishing House, printers of the New International Version Bible. They send me a random verse per day, completely random to me although I'm sure they have some sort of plan involved. The amazing thing is how timely these verses seem to be for me. Today was a great example. Although this week has been nothing short of amazing, it's always tough starting a new gig. Having to ask such mundane questions - like "where do we keep the pens?" or "how do I mail this?" or, my personal favorite for myself, "How do I turn on the copier?" - it's a reminder that we're still getting our feet on the ground. Thus, when I opened that email this morning, I couldn't help but smile. Today's verse is Isaiah 26:3 - "You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you." This week hasn't been trying because of my job or the people I work with - far from it. But has been a challenge in focusing my heart and mind on Christ and not all that needs to be done. We'll get there - I just know it - but my calling is still to keep my mind centered on Christ, not the tasks he's placed before me.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Welcome Central BC friends!

Welcome to our friends from Central BC! Herein, you'll find my incoherency on full display! If you take time to read this with any frequency at all, you'll find my thoughts are as random as the day is long! My hope and prayer is that you'll also find something of my heart for people and ministry here. First, a word about who I am and where I plan to go. My deep desire is (1) for the love of Christ to change each of us for the sake of His kingdom; (2) for the love of Christ to change what we do and why we do it; (3) for the love of Christ to call us to worship Him for who He really is, not just what I'd like to think of Him as; (4) for the love of Christ to call us to mentor and guide other lives toward maturity in Christ; (5) for the love of Christ to bind us together in faithfulness and love as we serve Christ together.

Although it's not been advertised, Steve Edwards has been gracious enough to let me have the privilege of leading tomorrow night's prayer meeting. We'll be starting a journey through Psalms and Proverbs that we'll employ on Wednesday nights. Sunday morning, we'll be discussing "Who God LONGS for you to be" - the first of a two part series. Sunday night, we'll begin a study on Christian history, theology and what the church holds true and, more importantly, why.

What do I need from you? First, I need you to pray fervently for the work of Christ in our church and community. We need revival in our nation as we never have before! Second, I need for you to pray for my family as we begin this new journey. Third, I need for you to pray for your staff at CBC. We have an exceptional staff! Pray the Lord's protection and provision over them, their families and their work. Finally, pray for yourself (I put this one last because we seem to never fail to do this one anyway!). Ask the God of all wisdom and grace to guide you.

That's it for now - check back to find more of my nonsense.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Home

We're back. What a great time we had! It was an awesome time to spend with us before next week. A brief recap:
Monday - We went to the Alamo and the Dallas Cowboys Training Camp at the Alamodome. Both super cool! While I've been to the Alamo many, many times ( I once had a job that had a significant amount of travel around the state and San Antonio was a regular stop), I never cease to be impressed by it. It stirs the love of history and Texas within me and causes me, once again, to thank God for this amazing and wonderful land in which we live.
As for the Cowboys,I've long wanted to go to Training camp just for the experience. It was no disappointment! It was great to see the Cowboys up close - I'll never be able to afford seats that close at the new stadium - and the best part was it was FREE! Since we had parked downtown, we didn't even pay a parking fee!
Tuesday - Literally, we did nothing. We slept late, swam in the hotel pool, ate a late lunch and went shopping. My favorite stop was Half-Price books. I'm such a book junkie!
Wednesday - We went to SeaWorld! Julie and I went to the one in San Diego a few years ago and I'd been to one like it when I was a kid in Arlington, TX, but it was still mega-cool to me. Of course, Shamu was the star attraction for much of it, but we spent a good part of the day in the water park, a wonderful and welcome addition. The crowd was light - Julie and I walked on to the Great White Roller Coaster with no wait at ALL! - and the weather wasn't as hot as it had been so it was great! The bad part was my best Nike shoes had a blowout while we were there. Strangest thing - the air pocket on the right heel expanded creating a lump of air for me to walk on the rest of the day!
Thursday - Came home, but not before we went to the Outlet malls in San Marcos. I had to have a new pair of Nikes!
So now its Saturday and, for the first time in a long time, I'm not preaching tomorrow. I'm not really sure what to do with that other than wait expectantly for Monday and my first day in the CBC offices. If you're a CBC member, pray for us as we begin this journey together!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

My last post from FBC

I'm here in my FBC office, but it's different now. All the books are gone and so are the wall-hangings. My little knick-knacks and tchotchkes are gone as well. It has been the strangest summer of my life. I would've never believed it if you had told me on Memorial Day weekend. Sunday is our last day here - it's shocking to me even now to say that. All the life and heart and soul poured out here - it's hard to reconcile all of this.

And yet, in this change and the accompanying loss, there's a quiet confidence in my heart. A confidence that yes, this IS INDEED God's plan for us. I don't know why and I can't express with clarity what happens from here. For all human intents and purposes, this looks like insanity. Yet I'm fully convinced and convicted this is the plan of the Lord.

To my friends at FBC Frankston: Thanks for allowing us to serve the Lord here for the last two-plus years. We're indebted to you in so many ways. Your love and encouragement has meant so much and I'm thrilled we're not going far. For those who are disappointed we're leaving, I take that as a great compliment of your trust and love for our service here. Yet I ask that you trust the Lord and me, just as you have for the last two-plus years. Please know of my prayers for each of you and for our beloved FBC.

To my new friends at Central, Jacksonville: Thanks for trusting the Lord and me enough to call me as your pastor. Please pray for me as I seek to serve the Lord faithfully in that role. I look forward to seeing what the Lord has for us together as we begin this journey together. There's much to look forward to as we get started. We'll see you on August 30th!

Monday, August 03, 2009

I love puns!

For my friends who love puns, here are some I got today and just had to share them! I'll harass my wife with them when I get home!

A CAREER IN PUNS

My first job was working in an orange juice factory, but I got canned. I couldn't concentrate.

Then I worked in the woods as a lumberjack, but I just couldn't hack it, so they gave me the axe.

After that, I tried to be a tailor, but I wasn't suited for it -- mainly because it was a sew-sew job.

Next, I tried working in a muffler factory, but that was too exhausting.

Then, I tried to be a chef -- figured it would add a little spice to my life, but I just didn't have the thyme.

I attempted to be a deli worker; but any way I sliced it, I couldn't cut the mustard.

I studied a long time to become a doctor, but I didn't have any patience.

Next, was a job in a shoe factory. I tried but I couldn't fit in. I became depressed and soulful.

Then there was the professional fisherman job. But I discovered that I couldn't live on my net income.

I managed to get a job working for a pool maintenance company, but the work was just too draining.

So then I got a job in a workout center, but they said I wasn't fit for the job.

After many years of trying to find steady work, I finally got a job as an historian -- until I realized there was no future in it.

My last job was working in Starbucks, but I had to quit because it was always the same old grind.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Welcome Central BC Friends

For those who are from our soon-to-be church home at Central BC, Jacksonville, WELCOME! This is the place for my ramblings about whatever is on my (oft-demented) mind. Now, on to what I really wanted to say. . . .

Tonight, I was called as pastor of Central BC in Jacksonville by an unanimous vote of 300+. Wow. That shocked me. There's always at least one "no" in a crowd of any size. At least one person usually votes "no" to make sure it isn't unanimous. But tonight, it was. It strikes me that it's an example of the spirit of the church.

I can't remember a time when I had a greater swell of emotion. The joy of being called mixed with the sadness of leaving our beloved FBC in Frankston. The anticipation of a new challenge mixed with the challenge of new opportunities. We don't know what happens next when we get there, but we know we'll be ready for it when it does come by holding the hand of the Lord.

Please pray for us as we get ready to go. Pray for our short vacation we'll take between leaving Frankston and arriving in Jacksonville. Pray for the days ahead to be a powerful reminder of God's grace and love for Jacksonville and Cherokee County.

If you're an FBC member, we'll see you Sunday. If you're a member at Central, we'll see you on August 30. If you're an interested bystander, pray for us - we'll need it.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Coach Wooden feted

Perhaps you missed it last night - I did - but I found it this morning. Coach John Wooden was honored last night by the The Sporting News as the greatest coach in American Sports history. I'm not sure how you can measure that, but I think they choose properly. He was near retirement when I was born yet only one other coach has had the kind of influence on me that Coach Wooden has had (Coach Tom Landry). He's now 98 yrs old but still has the clarity of man much younger. Take a couple of minutes and watch the interview he did with ESPN.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A true ROLE MODEL!

This is Tim Tebow, quarterback of the University of Florida Gators Football team. While I'm not a fan of the Gators, I'm a BIG fan of Tebow. He's used his stature and platform (Heisman Trophy and National Championship ring) to the forefront as a platform for sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ! It unsettles many of those who have become jaded, like media members. It causes them to wait for "the other shoe to drop." I can't blame them - we've seen this before. But Tebow is different. When you have time, read this column about Tebow and it'll explain the details!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

By now, you've heard

By now, you've probably heard that I've been invited to come to Central Baptist Church, Jacksonville this coming Sunday, August 2, in view of becoming their pastor. For my dear friends in Frankston, please know that this has been one of the most difficult choices I've ever had to make. The path we've walked together these last two years has been one of challenge and joy and I've loved you for them both. You've loved my family in ways I simply cannot express and welcomed us as one of your own. My gratitude to you is deep.

Please allow to dispel any notion that we were in some way dissatisfied at FBC or that we were "shopping" around for a place to go. The truth of the matter is that the Lord opened this door and we're simply walking with Him through it.

For many days and nights, I laid awake thinking and praying about this choice and its ramifications. At the end of my debate, I felt like to stay would be disobedience to what I felt like the Lord had called me to and what I've asked you as my FBC family to be called to - complete and total surrender of rights to make your own choices and choose your own path. Obedience is the key issue. If I failed there, then would I be any good to you as your pastor anyway? I must follow, even though I don't know where it will lead.

Mission Galveston 2009 - Final Report

We're home and exhausted. That's why I didn't get to you yesterday. We completed our work on Thursday by lunch and some of us turned for home. We finished sheetrocking the ceiling and the upper half of the walls. Where we left it was where someone else could come and really knock it out! We left them with sufficient supplies to complete the job.

As for the rest for the rest of us, on Thursday we went to the beach! We played for a while in the sand and the warm Gulf of Mexico. It was a great time! Look forward to tomorrow night and the report!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Mission Galveston 2009 - Day 3

Our work here continues! Our Variable group uncrated donated furniture today, preparing it for it's transition to people's homes. Much of it was donated through a drive spearheaded by the "Today Show." Ask Julie and Duane about it!

As for the Project group, the sheetrocking continues! I learned today that I really don't need to try to make a living at it - I'll starve! The 100th missed stud or broken sheetrock screw told me all I needed to know! We're at about 75%, but I really don't think we'll finish before tomorrow night. The good news is that even if we leave tonight, there are sufficient materials to finish the job. Whereas what we've spent is a fraction of our mission trip budget, it's a fortune to the homeowner!

We're headed home Friday so tomorrow is it for us. We're saddened at how quickly this week has passed, but we're exhausted and ready to see home. We're going to try (again) to go to the beach tomorrow evening, but it's been red-flag warnings all week (meaning swim at your own risk). The waves have been HUGE! Picturesque, yes - good for swimming, no! One way or the other, we'll see you Sunday!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Mission Galveston 2009 - Day 2

With the insulation finished, we got started on the sheetrock today. Let me just say - and I realize this will shock many of you - I don't know anything about sheetrocking! In reality, I have one skill: being tall. Fortunately, it works for me. With a sheetrock jack, several drills, countless screws and a seriously large pile of sheetrock, we got almost all of the ceiling done in the project house. We'll be finishing that up tomorrow morning and then get cranking on the walls. I'll try to get you some pictures tomorrow, but for now, I'm tired and going to bed!

Before I go, I did have some time this evening to look for stuff for Sunday. I'm not sure I can use it, but here's something interesting.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Mission Trip 2009 - Day One

Here we are in Galveston! Finally, we're here and working! The weather was unusually cooperative and moderate for late July in south Texas (low 90's) and we even had a short shower to cool it off even further. We split up into two groups - here's a report on each one.
GROUP 1 - Led capably by Duane and Julie, this group took on a home on Avenue L near the eastern end of Galveston. They painted the exterior of the house, the bathroom inside, mopped the floor, cleaned up the yard and generally loved on the lady who owned the house. Some of our ladies bought her some new things for her home (new towels, sheets, a mini-blind) to make her home feel more like home.

GROUP 2 - The BIG one - Ms Belinda's home was under 6 feet of water for several days last year after Hurricane Ike. The house was gutted of all insulation, sheetrock and flooring in the fall. After she filled out the paperwork to have us come and help her, our contact told her it would be a long time till someone came. As the Lord would have it, we were selected to work on her home after only a short wait. A lady in her late 40's, she wept when we arrived to get started. After spending some time getting organized and preparing a strategy, we got after it. We spent the day re-insulating the house, a job that wears down even a strong man who isn't used to doing it! After going to McCoy's Building Supply, we received our shipment of 150 sheets of sheetrock and (gulp!) unloaded them into the house. Thank God we were all together for that part! Tomorrow morning (around 7 AM), we'll get rolling again slapping up the sheetrock. Pray for us as we get serious. Pray for us since NONE of us like to do sheetrocking! Pray for us as we share the love of Christ with Ms Belinda (yes, she is a believer - we asked!). Pray for opportunities to share the love of Christ with wherever Group 1 goes tomorrow. As for us, we're going to bed. See you tomorrow!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

We're here!

We rolled into FBC LaMarque about 6:30 tonight and we're all set up! We get to work tomorrow morning. Look for more tomorrow!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Final Mission Trip Preparations

Okay, so here it is the day before we leave for Galveston. After tomorrow morning's worship service, we'll be on our way. We got word of our project and it's a good one! I was concerned about being outside, but they've assigned us to a house that has a good roof. . . .and nothing else! It's completely gutted inside, down to the studs. We're moving a bathroom, re-framing walls, electrical work, plumbing work and drywall (if we get that far!). We're PUMPED! Finally, a project we can dream about, plan for and execute. I'll be taking lots of pictures and will be posting them as I'm able. Check our facebook page if you're interested since I can post from my phone to there.
IF YOU'RE GOING: Get excited! Get prayed up, packed up and ready to go!

IF YOU'RE NOT GOING: Get excited! Pray for our safety, our work, and our safe return on Friday. We'll use Sunday, July 26th as our report time. Join us as we show pictures and tell of how God used us while we were there.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

MISSION GALVESTON 2009 UPDATE

I spoke with our friends in Galveston yesterday. They're excited about us coming. They sounded tired, but excited. While it's a new opportunity for us, they've been at it since Hurricane Ike came through last summer. Construction projects are in various stages of construction and thus, they can't tell us much yet about what our projects will consist of other than basic construction, landscaping, painting and loving people through our actions. We'll pick the projects up where the teams working this week leave them off.

Here's the real deal. If you're going with us and you're a planner who simply must know what we'll be doing, check back here on Friday afternoon / evening (or call me Friday night or Saturday). They recommended I call back then to find out what we'll be working on next week. Pray for our projects (whatever they may be) and for the opportunities to work in people's lives while we work on their homes / churches.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Away they go. . . .

Our students left for youth camp this morning. Julie went with them which means I'm on my own this week. Just the boys in the house. That can't be good. If the house is still standing on Friday, she'll be home to clean it up - or hose it down. It's a long story about why I didn't go with them, but let's just say Mission Trip leaves on Sunday and somebody has to make sure to prepare for it. I was a bachelor for a long time (we didn't get married until I was 31) so I can make it okay, but it's not the same. She left me with a meal plan, prepared food and clean clothes, so we'll be fine - it's just that the heart of the house is gone. Pray for us this week as we prepare to leave for Galveston this Sunday afternoon. Fortunately, Julie will be going with us! :-)

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Keno Fitzgerald's Funeral Arrangements

Many of you knew Keno. He was a congenial, warm-spirited man who somehow never married. With a host of friends, Keno was a wonderful part of our community. Yesterday afternoon, the Lord took him home, too soon in many eyes, at a young 35 yrs of age. Please pray for his family during these difficult days. Pray for his friends. Pray for our community.

VISITATION - Autry's Funeral Home in Frankston, July 10, Friday evening from 6:00 - 8:00 PM.

FUNERAL SERVICES - 2 PM on Saturday at the United Methodist Church's Family Life Center here in Frankston.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Mission Trip preparation

So I've been getting ready for Mission Trip this week. We leave one week from Sunday! I'm excited about going but in a strange sort of way. I can't help but wonder what the Lord has in store for us. The details for work are sketchy at best. We know this: we're going to work at whatever the Lord places before us. When we get there, we'll be passionate and work hard at whatever we do.

I like to think of myself as a planner, so not having a plan is forcing me to rethink things - and forcing me into a dependence on God's directing hand, not my capacity to plan. It's forced me to get my thoughts together and say "I'm going even though I don't know what I'll do once I'm there." In a way, it's reminscent of Hebrews 11:8 - "By faith, Abraham obeyed the Lord and went, even though he didn't know where he was going."

If you're going with us, prepare your heart by preparing your mind to be flexible. Flexibility means the ability to bend as necessary. It's not a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of willingness. We'll talk more about that later, but for now, let's say the Lord is going to use us and we'll be ready when He is!

See You in Galveston!

Monday, July 06, 2009

A wonderful resource

One of the things I enjoy most is studying the Bible, esp in it's ancient forms. Thus, with the release of the final digital version of a 4th century Bible, I'm pumped! Although it's appearance online may be a new thing to many, it's hardly new to scholars. Codex Siniaticus has a history akin to an Indiana Jones story, only it's too wild to be made into a movie - it's too unbelievable. And yet, it's true! Take a minute to read about it in the ABC news story about it and then go HERE to see it for yourself.

Written on animal skin with a primitive ink, it's a wonderful example of an ancient text. It hasn't been all in one place in approximately a century so having it all at one's fingertips is unbelievable. It was written by hand, one letter at a time, one word at a time, one line at a time. Some have suggested it may be one of the 50 copies Roman Emperor Constantine ordered his church historian Eusebius to create in 317 AD. At any rate, this excellent copy was found in the Sinai desert (thus the name) at St. Catherine's Monastery (yes, you can still visit there).

For those who are from Texas, I had the privilege of meeting one of the curators for this priceless manuscript a few years ago while I was in Washington, DC attending a symposium discussing these documents. Although he was living in Sinai, Egypt, he had a decidedly Texas accent. I chalked it up to hearing what I wanted to hear. Afterwards, I met with Father Justin and discovered he WAS from Texas and is a University of Texas Alumni! Hook 'em!

If you'd like to read more about this amazing manuscript and see it for yourself, visit this site for more info about it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A teaser for Sunday

I've posted videos of Keith Green before but he's back today, this time in tongue-in-cheek fashion. In conjunction with our ECHO series be blessed today by his "So You Wanna Go back to Egypt!"

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A counter-cultural movement

Father's Day is Sunday. I realize that may not sound like it, but that's a counter-cultural movement. If you join us on Sunday at FBC, you'll hear me say this again, but our culture has repeatedly expressed the lack of desire for fathers, their leadership and their wisdom. Single mothers are glorified and fatherhood viewed as an uncomfortable and unfortunate position. Spiritual leadership by the father is even more laughable.

I contend it's exactly opposite our culture needs. Instead of less fathers, we need MORE! Our role is needed more now than ever before. While we may not have the genius displayed by "Ozzie and Harriet" or "Father Knows Best", we can certainly do better than Al Bundy on "Married with Children." One of the points I'll be making Sunday morning is this: Affirm the value of your children, exactly where they are. In our society that calls for us to live up to some unattainable standard somewhere off in the distance, let's allow our children to know their value in our lives by what we say AND do. Here's a great video emphasizing that.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Through new eyes

Yesterday, Julie and I took our FBC kids to Super Summer at East Texas Baptist University in Marshall. Nothing unusual there. Julie and I both love Super Summer. From 1991-2001, I didn't miss a summer of working with this wonderful ministry. Yesterday was different, however. In the past, when I showed up at Super Summer, it was as a worker. Workers get there on Saturday, prepare all weekend for the students and greet them with great fanfare (that's what you see - and believe me when I say this picture does NOT do it justice!). In the past, I knew everyone else working at Super Summer. Yesterday, I knew only a few.
It caused me to look at Super Summer in a new way - or with new eyes. It caused me to see things in a new way. I didn't know where to go, or what to do. I didn't know very many people. Truthfully, the only people I knew yesterday were either my age (which would be the "old" people at this camp) or were the grown children of my friends coming to serve as a "second generation" servant. Wow.
On the same token, in the shift of generations, this was a wonderful moment in time! Super Summer had changed - there could be no doubt about that - but it had changed to survive and thrive in a new way. Rather than mourning the old way it was, I began to celebrate that it was an organism that would grow and become something far beyond what I could make out of it.

The timing was unbelievable really - I mean, here I am in the middle of this "Echo" series on generations and how they communicate and the Lord brings it right to my FACE! Wow. I'll revisit this when I have time to.

Our Food Pantry workers are awesome!

A word of congratulations is in order! Twice a month, several members of FBC work at the East Texas Food Bank in Tyler. Under the leadership of Charles Garner, our workers bag rice and beans for distribution to those in need. It's a tedious job. A literal TON of rice and a TON of beans are sitting on pallets. They must be bagged into 2 lbs. sacks to be distributed. There are 12 bags to the case. In a four hour time span, they bagged and boxed 117 cases of rice and beans! WOW! Now that's a lot of work! Thanks for taking Jesus' command to feed the hungry so seriously!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Flash Mobs put to good use

Have you heard of flash mobs? It's where a group of people decide in advance they will gather at a particular time and then just as fast, disappear. Sometimes they just stand there. Other times, they dance. Like this time. Enjoy the insanity of a random flash mob dancing to MC Hammer's "Can't Touch This." Make sure to pay attention to the people who aren't in on it and their reactions.