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.