Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Thoughts on the TBC and church in general

The TBC (Tennessee Baptist Convention) is underway in Kingsport, TN. I attended the afternoon session of the pastor's conference on Monday and was blessed by the messages of Johnny Hunt, Dennis Swanburg, and Jerry Vines. Tuesday was the first day of the convention and I attended the morning session. The reports were encouraging, giving is up (even excess), talks of change and moving forward. A few motions and changes to committee reports were offered. All in all the business session seemed to move well. What concerned me most was the mass exodus of messengers after the business session and before the time of worship and the president's message. I realize some probably had important things to attend to, but I believe many were only there to cast their vote in the business session, and when that was over there was no reason for them to stay. I think that's very unfortunate. It reminds me of those people in our churches who never come to participate in the Wednesday prayer service with their fellow church members, but come for the monthly business meeting to make their voice be heard.
It is no wonder we are divided as a Convention. First of all, even at an annual convention, the worship of our Lord should have priority over our business sessions. If we spent more time in worship together, we'd probably need less time for the business sessions. Secondly, if we can't worship together, how can we possibly work together for the glory of God. We're divided in our work because we are divided in our worship. Worship must always come before work. God is always more concerned about who we are than what we do. When we again make worshiping together a priority in our Convention, we'll see our divisions being dissolved and God working through our Convention to reach the lost and unchurched people of our state. And what is true in our convention is true in our individual churches as well. A house divided against itself cannot stand.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

True is True

A part of the morning sermon was about the narrowness of truth. If something is true, then the opposite is false. Truth, by it's very nature is narrow.
Amazingly, though, rather than learn and accept the truth, some people prefer to create their own reality and promote it as truth. They make statements based on limited information and personal feelings rather than on facts. A good example is found in Matthew 12 where Jesus healed a man who was controlled by demons and was blind and could not speak. Jesus healed him and the Bible says that the people were amazed. They recognized the uniqueness of Jesus; the miracle was used to confirm His true identity.
But the Pharisees, who would not accept the truth of who Jesus was, created their own reality and said that Jesus cast out demons and healed because His power came from Beelzebub, the prince of demons. For the Pharisees, it suited their agenda to ignore the truth and the evidence of the truth, and create their own reality, and make Jesus out to be something He was not, and ignore who He really was. Unfortunately, this kind of "truth twisting" happens often in today's world. Some people are being destroyed because others are twisting the truth.
The good news, though, is that in the end, truth will be made known. God, who already knows everything, will reveal what has been hidden by the truth twisters, just like the Pharisees were revealed for who they really were. True is always true, and one day all truth will be made known.

Friday, November 2, 2007

A Do-Nothing Day

Well, it is obvious I am not much of a blogger. Time is at such a premium in my life right now that it is hard to add anything to the plate. But, today was a day of rest. It's the first full day I've had off since returning from Mississippi three weeks ago, and I've taken full advantage of it by doing virtually nothing.
It seems weird doing nothing after over 21 days of "go-go-go". I feel guilty. All day I've thought of the numerous things that I could be doing - both church and ministry related and around the house, but I've resisted the urge to do anything, not because I'm lazy, but because of sabbath. I need a do-nothing-day, just to rest and recharge. I use the sabbath day to rest physically and recharge my spiritual batteries by reading and praying. It has been a good day, and I know I'll be a better person and minister for taking it.
The Lord set the example by resting on the seventh day after creating the world. He then commanded us to follow His example in the Ten Commandments. The Lord, our Creator, knew we needed a day of rest to maintain our balance in life. We have a day of sabbath because the Lord loves us and wants the best for us. We would do well to follow His example and obey His Word (sorry, the preacher in me just comes out).

Thursday, September 27, 2007


Expectations - anticipated or assumed action or outcome. The belief that certain things should go a certain way. Expectations can be beneficial; they can be the standards we set for ourselves and strive to live up to. Expectations can also be harmful when applied to others in an unrealistic way. We expect certain people to behave a certain way, and when they don't we become disappointed in them. This is inevitable in life, for no one can live up to our expectations always. But what do we do when others fail to live up to our expectations for them? Some turn away - break the relationship; but is this the real solution? What about when we fail to live up to God's expectations (and you better believe He has them. To think God does not have expectations for His followers is to believe in an impersonal, nebulous god; a non-entity)? Does God turn away from us when we fail to live up to His expectations? The answer will bother some people - but the answer is yes.
In the Old Testament, when the people of God failed to live up to the covenant relationship with God, He withdrew His power and protection and the people suffered the consequences of oppression, tribulation and even destruction.
In the New Testament, Jesus made His expectations clear to those who would follow Him, and when they weren't willing to accept them or live up to them, He moved on. He didn't lower His expectations in order to appease the people (rich young ruler, Pharisees, people of Nazareth, man who wanted to bury his father [Jesus said, "let the dead bury the dead", ouch!], even the cripple at the pool [Jesus said, "Do you want to be well? Then get up and walk!"]. Jesus never changed the expectations so people would like Him or follow Him.
But with God in the Old Testament and God in the Flesh, Jesus, in New Testament when the people failed to live up to His expectations, all that was needed to restore the relationship was repentance: "I'm sorry Lord; I blew it. I let You down and I'm sorry. I'm ready to get back on track with You." And His response was/is always, "You're already forgiven. Let it go, don't look back. Let's move forward." (Thank you, Lord, for the cross and You're amazing grace!)
Don't you wish it was like that in our relationships with others? Too often others want us to jump through their hoops before they are willing to forgive (a sign they don't understand grace or true forgiveness). And others, well... it doesn't matter what you do, they'll never let it go. Their catalogue of offenses that they keep track of is just too big for them to let go of. And as more people fail to live up to their expectations the catalogue gets bigger and harder to carry - (unforgiveness is a great burden!)
Life's too short not to live by grace. It's OK to have expectations for yourself and for others, but they should be tempered by grace - the grace that God has given us.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Friday Fog

My first post on the blog isn't really what I thought it would be. I thought I'd post something spiritual and inspiring, but the truth is it just hasn't been that kind of day. I had to take our dog Duke to be put to sleep today. He was around thirteen years old; we got him in the spring of 1995. The last year he had really been going downhill; arthritis, hearing loss, eyes clouding up, and losing his hair. He was really starting to suffer some. So, it was the right thing to do - but not easy. I'm not really a pet person, but Duke had been around longer than our two youngest daughters. It was hard to see him go.
But, as with all things in life, God provides grace and learning opportunities. I was reminded again that life never stays the same. Change is inevitable. All things in this life are temporary. While I'll look back with fond memories, I won't linger too long. Life is too short to always be looking backwards. God always has new and wonderful things in store for us in the future. There will never be another Duke, but there will be other pets and other fun times. And there will always be change. I can either resist it and be miserable, or I can embrace it, grow and go forward. That's the choice I make. And I can do it joyfully (Philippians 3:1).