Archive for May, 2009

Today marks some rites of passage for some people close to me.  My oldest son Jared  officially becomes a high school senior and my middle son Ethan officially becomes a high school freshman.  Both of these markers were announced early this morning when Jared got up early to go “kidnap” some incoming freshmen and as a couple of other seniors came to capture Ethan from his bed.  I made sure that Jared knew he needed to look out for his brother.  Other than some lipstick and hair gel, Ethan escaped with no damage.

Another passage is happening today in the closing of a restaurant.  Charlie and Brenda Jordan have been here and served this community for years.  They are closing the business today.  We will miss their home-cooked meals but more drastically will their friendly welcome be missed as we enter to eat.

Life is full of these mile markers.  They serve to show we are moving.  There are two points to this rambling today.  Are the markers in your life marking progress?  The right kind of progress?  And just as importantly, what are you doing with your life between these markers?  We can’t allow ourselves to be duped into not doing what God wants us to do by the excuse that once we reach . . . (high school graduation, retirement, that new job – you fill in the blank) then we can begin to live for God.

Don’t let another life marker come and go without actively pursuing God’s desires for you.

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I was driving back from doing some hospital visits this morning and (yes, I confess) I was feeling like a little rock and roll.  So I had the radio set on a local station for said genre.  At any rate, an old classic Pink Floyd song came on and I began singing along.  As I did, I listened to the words for the first time and began to see how what the song was describing (while most likely a drug induced sense of reality) also described what many Christians experience regularly.

The lines that caught my attention were:

When I was a child I caught a fleeting glimpse,
Out of the corner of my eye.
I turned to look but it was gone.
I cannot put my finger on it now.
The child is grown, the dream is gone.
I have become comfortably numb.

How many Christians do you know that fit this description – better yet, how often do these words describe you?  They fit me all too often.  I get so wrapped up in the day to day that I loose that heart-felt excitement that came when I decided to commit the rest of my life to following Jesus.  As Christians we are called to mature and become more like Christ in the way we live.  But way too often, we lose that excitement as we grow and  what happens is that we become “comfortably numb!”  

What is worse, is that we have begun to define that numbness as maturity!  May it never be with me!  May it never be with you!

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Over the past year, I have convinced my three boys to go camping/hiking and each of the three times we have had “bad luck.”  The first time we got rained out – to the point of taking the tent down in the rain at midnight and driving 6 hours through the night to get home.  The next time we had a blow out on Easter Sunday afternoon and spent 3 extra hours trying to get to the campground.  This past weekend we left after church and headed to the Guadalupe Mountains with the idea we would backpack to the top of the tallest mountain in Texas and camp.

When we checked in at the base of the mountain, the camp sites were taken on the Guadalupe Peak hike and so we could not hike the peak but rather had to do a different hike.  My youngest, who has never been to the summit was very disappointed.  But we agreed to do the other hike.  Just as we reached the campground (just after dark) it began to rain.  As we sat in the leaky tent, the boys looked at me and asked, “Why do we not have good luck when we try to camp?”  I didn’t have an answer.

But we made it through the night and had a great time overall.   The more I have thought about it, I think it is really all about the experience.  Life is made up of thousands of these experiences.  Even though each camping trip has had its problems, I would not trade anything for the time with my boys.  

The lesson I think God is teaching me is that there is no such thing as a “perfect” camping trip, just as there is no such thing as a life free of trouble.  Life does bring challenges – not all of them pleasant.  But at the end of life, when we take the good with the not so good, maybe all that really matters is the experience that comes from living a life for God.  One of the things I hope people say at my funeral is, “He understood life as well as one can, and he experienced it to the fullest.”DSC01031

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Today Is a Big Day

Today Kristi and I celebrate 19 wonderful years of marriage.  It does not seem possible that we have been married 19 years.  I think back to what life was like in 1990 and think of how things have changed.  The world is a different place now.  We have seen so much happen over the years.  The wall fell, the internet got started, career changes, job changes, buying and selling homes and moving, and of course the birth of not one, not two, but three wonderful boys – continual change.

But the constant has been the love that we share.  We have been through a lot together.  We are both stronger today than then, but more importantly, our relationship is stronger!  I love you Kristi!  I look forward to the rest of our lives together.

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This week you have probably noticed that the posts have been around a common theme – the Church.  Today is following that same theme.  Believe it or not, there is a method to my madness (for those of you who know me that may be even more unbelievable).  I am playing with the idea of working toward Sunday’s sermon with the posts.  We will see how that turns out.

At any rate, I had the opportunity this morning to have breakfast with a wonderful group of people.  I have been in several different communities and a lot of churches and never have I experienced the unity and fellowship that we experience here in our town in the Ministerial Alliance.  My post yesterday talked about the Church (big C).  That is what I see when I meet with those folks.  Each church is called to a specific mission in our community but all of us work together toward the call to make a difference for Christ in our town.  It is a wonderful thing.

I am Baptist and most likely will die a Baptist.  But at the end of the day, Christianity should be about a relationship not a “religion.”  Praise God that the work of the Gospel can cross denominational lines!

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Meaningless Religion

Yesterday I rambled about the future of our church – and looking back at it – I was thinking specifically of our church, here – First Baptist Church of Levelland.  But today I am thinking more about the Church (Big C).  This is a frustrating time to be in ministry but, if you look at it from a different perspective, this could very well be one of the most exciting times in the history of the Christian movement.

Marjorie Thompson, in Soul Feast, has said that we are living in an era not unlike the environment in which the First Great Awakening took place.  If that is really true, how cool would that be to be part of a new and fresh inbreaking of God’s spirit into our world.  She says that people are more “spiritually minded” today than they have been in many, many years.  But the flip side of this reality is that at the same time, they are anti-religion.

As I think about that fact, I am reminded of the world in which Jesus lived.  People were spiritually hungry but religion had moved beyond its intent and become a structure void of much meaning.  We tend to see the Pharisees of the Bible as extremists.  But in reality, they were the mainline denominational folks.

Don’t hear me say that I am anti-denomination – it has its place.  But if the structure is void of spiritual meaningfulness – what are we really trying to accomplish?  Maybe as a Church (big C) we need to focus on a relationship with God and then on the people God would have us reach out to on a daily basis with God’s love and grace.  There is a plan and a future for those who humbly and earnestly seek God’s face.

Are you  in?

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Our Future As a Church

This Sunday I will be preaching on the future of our church.  At least that is my intention.  We will be celebrating Memorial Day.  As such, I have been thinking about what we do when we remember.  So many times we are tempted to remain in the past.  We get lulled into the mindset that things were so “great” way back when . . .

The point of looking back is to understand who we are and where we have been.  But we don’t need to – no, we must never live there.  God has been so good to our church, blessing us with riches we have not even begun to value.  But God has not blessed us so that we can live in comfort or sit on our traditions.

God expects us to make a difference – otherwise, what is the point.  Because of the way God has blessed our church, we are positioned in such a way to have an eternal impact on our families, our community and our world.  We have a lot to be excited about!  

Are you excited?

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No Cheese Here

How many times have you walked out of a worship service and thought, “Well, at least it was entertaining.”?  I don’t have the Bible memorized, but I don’t know of a place in scripture where God said anything like, “Come to me and be entertained.”

Now don’t get me wrong, church should be the highlight of our week – in fact, I think it should even be fun (maybe this won’t get me fired).  But if church is not real then it is not pleasing to God.  Our goal in worship should always be to please God.  I believe we do this when we present a worship opportunity for folks to focus on the creator and experience God’s presence.  This cannot be forced but the opportunity can be offered.

It grieves me when I here of churches using gimmicks to get folks through the doors.  I have been in a few services that I walked out and thought, “Man, that was just cheesy! Am I  so shallow in my faith that it takes something like that to get me here?”

I am committed to the fact that we are going to make our church a “cheese free zone.” I pray that God will grow us to be deeply rooted and that everything we do will be authentic and meaningful.  God expects nothing less and neither should we.

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Renewed Focus

We are back from two days at Plains Baptist Assembly and a church staff retreat.  It was a great time!  The retreat did a lot of things for us and for me personally, but two primary things it did was give us time to regroup and draw closer to each other as a staff and closer to our maker.

The other thing it did was to help me  renew my focus.  God is at work all around me. There are so many good things to plug into but whatever we decide to involve ourselves in has to be moving us closer to Jesus and being like him in the way we live – the way we talk, the way we work, the way  we love.

I am so excited that God has put me here, now, in this place!  I believe with all my being that God is waiting on us – on me – to bring a fresh wind, a renewal of his people – a new Great Awakening!  I want to be a part of it.

Come Lord Jesus, Come!

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Staff Retreat

We are off to a staff retreat this morning and we will return tomorrow evening.  I pray that God will use this time to help us clarify our goals and strategy for the coming months.  I am looking forward to the time away with our staff.  It will be good to be in a different environment together.

I am asking for a favor today.  Please pray for us as we meet and search out God’s will for our particular ministries and our church.

As always – thanks for reading!

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