Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memorial Day... It means more now.

The National Cemetery at Leavenworth, Kansas is, like other national cemeteries, is a silent sprawling garden of white stones placed meticulously, row upon row. It is a place of peaceful memorial to those of our own who have known war. Some here served for a time, then lived long full lives. Others here died in action. This place give new meaning to the words; "All gave some, some gave all."

One of the traits of getting older, I guess, is that words like this mean more to me now. I never had the privilege to serve in the military; many of my friends have. But I have live to see the fruits of war. I have stood next to the casket of nineteen year old Marine who lost his life in Falujah. I have seen my own son put on the uniform of the United States Air Force and serve his country well for almost six years now.

Yes, this place means more to me now. My country, my freedom my land means more to me. I have seen the shift in our nation to a direction I fear; a direction of appeasement and alignment with those I feel have been the enemies of the very freedom for which those who lie in this field have fought.
I pray for my nation more
now, and regret the times I took it for granted.

So, I express my gratitude today for those who have believed in God and country; for those who still today defend her to the last measure. I pray with the writer of the great patriotic hymn:

"America, America,
God mend thine every flaw.
Confirm thy soul with self control,
Thy liberty, in law."

Just a thought. Thank you for reading.

Friday, May 22, 2009

A New Grandbaby

My daughter, Peggy gave birth yesterday to a 6lb 11oz. baby boy. His named Brendyn Lee. This is my second grandson. I have a granddaughter who lives in Arkansas who is expecting a sibling in the fall. We will be heading to the Kansas City area to meet them both this weekend.

I thank God that Brendyn was born healthy. Peggy was in the hospital on full bed rest because of complications with the pregnancy. They did have to take him "C section," however, mom and baby are both fine.

We have all heard grandparents say, if they knew how much fun grand kids were, they would have had them first. I understand this as a grandparent. But I look at this from the standpoint of a grandson. I was very close to my maternal grandfather. He was one the three most influential men in my life. What is it that makes grandparents so special?

For one thing, they are not your parents. This is key for a young person. But, they love you as much as your parents do; maybe in a way, more. My children can talk to my parents about me without getting "ratted out." They know they are speaking to someone who loves them and who love their parents unconditionally. This is security at its finest.

Grandparents are more experienced. They have lived longer. They understand more about life than parents. They are more adept at knowing if a situation or decision is a dangerous one or a harmless one. Admittedly, parents do not always have that insight. Grandparents also know when a mountain is being turned into a mole hill.

I am glad I had good relations with my grandparents. I have good relations with my parents today. It makes me glad when my children call and talk to my parents, unbenounced to me. My wife and I are young grandparents. I am 49 years old, and lets just say my beloved bride is younger than me.

May God give us the wisdom as we come into this phase of our lives. I want to be a testimony to the generation of my children's children. I welcome the fruits of our age. I welcome the opportunity. And I am looking forward to being able to play with toys again. That's what grandads do... right?

Just a thought. Thank you for reading.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

"Friend Day" a good day!

Sunday was "Friend Day" here at All Seasons Baptist Church, and it was a good day. We have practically relaunched this church from nothing. When we came here, it was ready to close the doors with only ten people. Now we are off to a new beginning.

"Friend Day" was our launch into the summer months when the weather allows us to work on growth more.

We did not have a huge crowd, but it was a good day. We had five first-time visitors in our services; brought to church by four different church members.

A man named Chris was one of the visitors. He was the guest of Jim and Tanya. Chris walked the aisle during the invitation, trusting Christ as his Savior. That made it a great day. That made it a great day.

Jim and Tanya have only been in our church for a few months. It was only last year that Tanya trusted Christ as her Savior. Jim was coming back to the Lord. Now I have those in my church who were away from the Lord less than a year ago, bringing their friends to hear the Gospel and be saved. To me, that is more exciting than saying a invited ten people and they all came.

Our church is small right now. However, there are few churches in America that will have an attendance campaign and see fifty percent of the church's members involved in bringing visitors to hear the Gospel. Usually it is around ten percent of the church doing ninety percent of the work. Don't believe it? Ask any Pastor who is actively trying to grow his congregation.

The greatest thing about this last Sunday was the salvation of one man. (For the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth for ever: Psalm 49:8) But beyond that, to see such a large percentage of our people work to reach their loved ones; that made it encouraging to me as their Pastor.

Just a thought. Thank you for reading.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Congratulations Terri!

This morning we are in Springfield, Illinois. At about 2:00 this afternoon, my beloved bride will walk in the graduation ceremony at the University of Illinois, Springfield. She now has her Bachelors degree in English. She graduates with honors.

Terri has worked harder to get here than anyone I know; overcoming obstacles, half of which would have stopped most. I do not mean the work was too challenging. Good grades are not a tall order for her. I mean it when I say she is the most intelligent woman I know personally.

No, the challenges came in every other area. There was the challenge of raising six adopted children. There was the challenge of health problems two years ago that almost took her life three times. Not to mention the challenge of being a church planter's wife, and putting up with him and his challenges. (I do not mean that in jest.) Many challenges, but she persevered.

Today, she gets recognised for this accomplishment; this dream, this goal. Hats off to you my beloved bride. I am very grateful for you, and proud of you. No one has earned it with more grace than you.

Just a thought. Thank you for reading.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Confessions of a Bi-vocational Pastor

I am at home this afternoon with my "bestest buddie." The one who calls me "Pops." Elisha Mark is five years old. He loves trains, cars, Transformers and hot dogs. That is what is on our agenda for today. I was very close to my maternal grandfather. Rev. H.F. Harris was a bi-vocational pastor. I spent every spare moment I could with him.

My grandfather's presence was big part of my formative years. I was his "pick of the litter," and everyone knew it. He was a furniture re-finisher by trade. I have been with him to deliver his work to some of the finest homes in Dallas, Texas, where I am from.

Papaw died at a little after midnight on December 20th 1977, the day after my eighteenth birthday. My last conversation with him, he told me all my talents and abilities were from God, "You use your ta
lent for the Lord; don't waste it serving the world." he said to me.

As I stand in my pulpit 32 years later, I see that little man back there on the back pew; the one who calls me "Pops." I feel the duty my grandfather must have felt when I sat in his pews as a boy. God grant me the faith, the strength, the love and the wisdom to shape that little boy. The one who calls me "Pops."

Just a though. Thank you for reading.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Cedar River Baptist Camp

This morning my beloved bride and I drove out to see an old friend; Cedar River Baptist Camp. The camp is soon to reopen under the ministry of Dr. Kieth Gomez, pastor of Nerthwest Bible Baptist Church. I thank God for the camp and its ministry. God has done great hings in the lives of young people through camp ministries across this country. I first met my beloved bride at a youth camp. And this morning brought back a lot of memories.

Things are starting to once again take shape at CRBC. The good people of Northwest Bible Baptist Church are working to whip everything back into shape. We took two window a/c units down for the boy's cabins. I want to be as involved as I can. I was told that this summer would not be a full schedule. This late in the summer, it would be impossible to put it all together. I am excited to know that next summer this place will once again be buzzing. Thank you Dr. Gomez, and my thanks to your people for having this vision. I am looking forward to it.

Just a thought. Thank you for reading.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Back From a Hiatus

I have not blogged in a while. Sometimes life gets too busy to reflect upon at the time. But I am back from my hiatus, and am blogging again.

We have once again taken a direct hit in this recession. I was laid off from my most recent secular job after only three months. John Deere is the second largest employer in this area. Many companies in this area work primarily, and in some cases, exclusively for John Deere. When Deere takes a hit, so do a lot of other businesses in the Quad Cities. I have now twice been a victim of this trickle down effect.

Looking for a job has changed. I did a lot of "pounding the pavement" early on. I discovered quickly that most companies would rather hire over the Internet than in person. This has its advantages. It saves time, saves gasoline and belays that special feeling of rejection you get when they say things like, "well... I guess you can leave a resume."

You discover things you did not really know much about when you're laid off; like daytime television. If a being from another planet were to land here, and the only information he had was what he picked up on a daytime T.V. frequency, he would quickly discover that all Earthlings are either under-employed, under-educated or in the middle of a law suite. How many judge shows do you need? Between Judy, Karen, Joe Brown, Judge Mathess and that real cute lady judge from Cuba, it is overwhelming! I jokingly suggested to my wife that they should just put them all on one channel. Then I found "Court T.V." How prophetic is that!

All in all, the experience has not been terrible. God has provided for our needs, and I'm having fun being a "full-time pastor" of sorts. I have been here before. Maybe that is why I am not so frightened. It is times like this when all of the platitudes and cliches
preachers throw around about "living by faith," and "trusting in the Lord," come home to us. It does not hurt for us preachers to have to take some of our own medicine on occasion.

I'm reminded of a story about Queen Elizabeth. During WWII, the German "blitzkrieg" had taken a heavy toll on London's east side industrial district. The Queen toured the area to give encouragement to those citizens who were losing so much.

The next night a Nazi bomber struck a wing of Buckingham Palace with a direct hit. Surveying the damage the next day, the queen was quoted as saying, "I'm glad it happened. Now I can look the east-enders in the face."

I pray that whatever set back or trial we preachers endure in our own lives, that we see it as an opportunity to look someone in the face and say, "I've been there, I understand."

Just a thought. Thank you for reading.