Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Back in the Grind

It has been five months since I posted my last blog. There have been a lot of things happen since that time. The biggest to this moment has been a move from Cotulla to Hereford, Texas. In January Debbie and I answered the call to move to Hereford and pastor Temple Baptist Church. I have had people ask me how I knew that God was calling for a move. That is a hard question to answer but I will try to use a fishing example to help understand it.

I have been fishing off and on for most of my life. I have been able to fish in spots that were great and others that were filled with tiny fish and turtles that always seemed to “steal the bait”. After you fished for a while you learn the differences in the tugs. You can’t see the hook deep in the water but the tug of a turtle or a perch feels much different than the bite and run of a nice catfish or Large Mouth Bass. If fishing with a cork or bobber there is no doubt when you have something “sucking” or “nibbling” on your bait as the bobber just bounces a little but never “goes under”. When the bobber disappears there is reason for excitement.
I love to fish with artificial (rubber) worms for Large Mouth Bass (Black Bass in some areas). Some places look fishy and draw cast over and over. One of the feels that I don’t want to feel is five or six quick bumps on the line. That is a sure sign of Bluegills and not the bass you are hoping for.

All of this to say that while temptations may simulate the call of God in many areas there is no mistaking the actual tug of God desire on your heart. Debbie and I felt that tug and followed it to our current place of ministry in Hereford.

After arriving in Hereford during one of the big snow storms of this winter we have now settled into our parsonage which has been a story in itself and now are ready to start focusing on the ministry God has planted us here for. We are excited to be here and believe that God has great things in store for us to accomplish along with the great people of Temple Baptist Church.

While the work will be hard and long and directions already changed we have rolled up our sleeves, looked to the heavens for help and guidance and have heard the call “forward”.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

November, Thanksgiving

November is the month that we set aside to remember to be Thankful for all that God has blessed us with. I believe to be “thankful” is to be content and filled with joy. Isn’t it strange that we have to have a day for some to remember that we are so blessed and to remember to pray for those who are not?

Often times our thankful attitude can be directly connected to our happiness. If we are happy we are thankful, if not happy, well then other things could be better and our selfish desires deplete our gratitude.

I read a story not long ago about a man who had an accident in his middle years and was left blind. For years his loving wife had stood by his side and while not taking away his independence she waited on her love hand and foot. The day came when his wife passed away leaving him with the need to enter a “retirement” home. He arrived early on the day of his admission and had to wait for his room to be prepared. As the attendant walked him down the hallway a complete description of the room was given to him. “Oh, I love it, I am so happy with everything” he responded to the description. The attendant somewhat confused with this “other-than-normal” attitude questioned his excitement; “but you haven’t made it to the room to see it and you already like it, how can you be so happy?” His simple answer was, “because I chose to be happy, happiness is a choice, I chose to be happy.”

Every day we should remember to be thankful, happy and content with what God has given us. What is our “choice”?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

What an Experience!

Question, what do you have when you have minor flu like symptoms, headache, agitation, nervousness to the point when you lie down and get still you have to kick and jerk and roll up in a ball, minor shakes, the sweats and insomnia (about an hour or so sleep a night) for 5 days?

Hydrocodone could last from 6 - 8 days and in some cases two weeks! As I write this I am sure hoping mine is only 6 days.

For the last several years I have experienced a very rapidly deteriorating left hip. Injury related arthritis set in nine or so years after an accident broke the femur head off the femur and fractured that big thigh bone. The arthritic spurs had completely destroyed the cushion that normally allows the ball to rotate in the socket with no pain. My main orthopedic in Virginia wanted me to wait until I was sixty before replacing the hip and at that time I was only fifty. I was put on a therapy of hydrocodone and diclofonac (NSAID). As the disease progressed it took more and more of these drugs for me to walk with manageable pain.

When we moved to Texas and I found a orthopedic I had been on the hydrocodone (the narcotic) for almost two years.

This gives a brand new appreciation for people who are coming off harder stuff. I feel fortunate that in the first place the hydrocodone is not the higher classed narcotic and secondly that my doctor saw the sense in replacing the hip.

After four weeks now with my new hip I am in very little pain; no pain in the hip and manageable pain where the muscles were cut and tendons reattached. I am looking forward to once again picking up my golf clubs which I laid down after the accident due to my inability to twist.

Now if I can just deal with the frustration of missing the six foot putt!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

God's Bulldogs

I am always amazed at how people who claim to be believers can be filled with hate and be so critical and mean-spirited. When we become Christians, we are to be characterized by our love. Sure, we can correct one another and reprove one another. Sure, we are to be careful and discerning. But we can do these things in a loving way.

I have seen believers harshly criticize others and their actions, and meanwhile, they are doing nothing at all for the kingdom of God. They are quick to criticize everyone else's efforts, but they are doing nothing themselves other than critiquing. I like to call these the “Bulldogs” of the faith but realized that they are neither animals nor are they practicing our faith and attempt to be like the Christ we claim to serve. In fact I have found that most criticism of others comes from a deep seated need to build ourselves up. It is almost always self-serving and seldom redemptive.

(I also realize that I could be seen as guilty of doing and being exactly what I am writing about now.)

As Warren Wiersbe has said, "Impatience with God often leads to impatience with God's people. . . . If we start using the sickles on each other, we will miss the harvest." I have seen Christians divide over minor issues rather than pull together for the sake of the gospel.

The difference in attitude can be seen in the Jewish zealot Saul and the Apostle Paul. Both are the same man, at least in the skin they wore. However, Saul full felt he was doing the Will of God by eradicating the misfit followers of Jesus. He was so sure that God wanted this done that he went out of his way, put in extra effort and got permission to go all the way to Damascus to round up these wrong-doers.

On his way though he met Jesus and soon his whole attitude changed. Not just in the fact that as Paul we was no longer persecuting the “Christians”, but that He now saw the positive and strove to concentrate on that.

Saul was a religious man, but he was a godless man. He was running from God. He was attacking Christians. He was thinking he would successfully destroy the Christian faith. But he had a surprise in store on the Damascus Road. How can we hear Paul speak these words “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Phil. 4:8 NIV) and think that is our God given responsibility to be God’s Bulldogs?

Give me wings and a beak. I would rather be a dove!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Being Many, We are all Important

"For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another." (Romans 12:4-5)

All too frequently in today's Christian circles, we place certain individuals and certain gifts on a pedestal, and all too often the resulting pride is devastating. Pride may be the favorite tool of Satan. Pride was the reason Satan rebelled and lost his exalted position. He appealed to Eve's pride in the garden, similarly tempted Christ in the wilderness, and uses it on us today. James reminds us that it's common knowledge that "God goes against the willful proud; God gives grace to the willing humble."(James 4:6 Message) " Some of the best advice I ever received was from a deacon in the church that licensed me to “Preach the Gospel”. He told me that if I go into the pulpit like a proud rooster someday I would exit it like a “whuupped dog”. It was not long after that I felt the sting of his wisdom.

Paul, through the Holy Spirit, chose to introduce his teaching on the use of spiritual gifts and unity of the entire body with a warning against pride, admonishing “for by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you”. (Romans 12:3 NIV). His discussion on the many-membered body which follows leaves no room for pride. Nor does the parallel passage in 1 Corinthians 12:12-31.

The apostle points out that each Christian forms an equally essential part of the whole. Since we are all equal in God's eyes, and all mutually dependent upon one another, what room is there for pride? Likewise, Paul points out that each Christian possesses an equally vital connection with Christ. Who are we to tell Christ a part of His body is less valuable than the rest? Can the body exist without a leg; Yes. Can the body function without eyes? Could I have continued on without the new hip? The answer is of course. We see it everyday. People conquering the challenges of having less than a “perfect body” but when the body is whole and working as it is supposed to it is a much easier task to do day to day functions. He is concerned for each one equally and has given each part of the body and the church its/their specific mission and function.

I also wonder if sometimes we have the opposite attitude. We do not feel that we are more important because we have a certain function and in our own eyes the body would not function without us. I wonder if sometimes we feel our job, our function is not as important as others. Therefore we do not take it as seriously. What if I don’t give my gift all the attention I need to? Who will notice that my part is missing?

Either attitude, and over-indulged pride or a lack of importance are both as equally devastating to our growth in the spirit.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Whose Plans are Your Plans?

When we “fail to plan then we plan to fail” and “make a plan and then work the plan” are sayings I have heard and tried to live by from my youth. I like plans but sometimes plans are not to be set in concrete, they often are not made of steel and words written in rocks can be eroded by nature. Plans are best seen as guidelines or roadmaps that keep us going North when we want to go northish. There are times when the plan has to be altered or something happens that causes a detour but if the plan is a guideline then we understand the plan is more about the place we want to end than the roads we take to get there.

Proverbs 19:21 tells us that “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (NIV) This does not discourage us from planning but reminds us that our plans need to be bathed in prayer and direction from God’s Spirit needs to be sought. We may have the best plans we could possibly come up with and find that at some point in the venture the plan has to be changed because we are being carried off in the wrong direction. God’s plans or purpose as the Proverb says is going to win out in the long run. God will not let our human and earthly ambitions derail or even sidetrack His ultimate purpose.

Spend time in prayer and talk with God about what His plan is for you today, tomorrow, a week , month or year from now. Then you can start planning with the surety that God is in it with you…then how can you fail!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Our Daily Walk

What great opportunities we have today to worship. There are so many “devotional” sites that one with the internet has no excuse not to take a few moments each day worship. I can remember when I was a young preacher it was much more difficult to find sources that helped with a “quiet” time. Books were expensive and when finances were tight essentially unavailable.

We always had God’s Word and there is no better material than the teaching of Scripture but so often it simply became an exercise in reading. In the last few years I have been so blessed by the resources that have helped my devotional times.
Almost all “big” churches have a very good presence on the internet. You can find pastors sermons just a click away. I have three that I listen to all the time. Some are simply audio while others are available in video. Just search for a particular church and go to their website and look for the sermons. Bookmark the ones you like and you are just a couple clicks away from a good sermon on Tuesday morning.

Search for devotionals and you will be amazed at the sites that offer free daily devotionals. Many of them are able to send a daily devotional or thought to your email. Wake up in the morning grab your coffee and you Bible and check your email. How easy can that be?

Sites like and have great short video resources for worship. If you facebook then do everyone a great favor when you find a great short worship video. Simply copy the URL or the Embedded code and share it with your friends. Hey, I think that is called being a witness!

With the power of the internet in the present day we have no excuse to skip a daily walk with God’s Spirit and I wonder why we can send jokes and political pokes but have failed to see the power of sending a positive redemptive message of God’s love to all the friends on our forward list. Hmmm… I think I just thought of something to do on a daily basis.
I hope you enjoy this….