Monday, March 20, 2006

OTTAL

Last week was a great week. Bro. Troy, the chairman of deacons, and I spent three days together "on the road". The Alabama State convention planned a "tour" for Pastors and a "lay-leader". The concept was that we would visit 6 "healthy" churches, meet with their local staff, and glean some of the principles which were working in these churches. The "Opportunity To Take A Look" (OTTAL) tour carried us into the southeastern part of our state.

We saw church ministries which should not be growing (according to their population and location) but were "reaching people for Christ" almost daily and in contrast we observed ministries which "should be" reaching people in their immediate area and simply were not. This was an eye-opening and very revealing trip.

What did Bro. Troy and I have reaffirmed in our hearts? Here it is; For a "congregation" to be a "Church" (a healthy church)-- there must be not only be a ministry to which every member is committed, but it is required to be on the same "MISSION". As children of the Heavenly Father who have been both born and adopted into the family, there can be no excuse nor reason for losing sight of the "fields which are ripe".

Yes, it is true that we must Worship, Fellowship, Discipleship, Ministry, and Prayer; but to consistently leave the "evangelism" out of the process is deadly. Biologically, it's like trying to remain alive in this "human body" and not "breathe". We don't breathe, we don't live. We don't evanglize, their is no life.

The result of this trip is absolutely a refocus on the priority of the HBC family. We begin with much prayer. We move to preparation. Then, we plan. Finally, we place into action; action that will lead to reaching people with the gospel Christ and allow them the opportunity to receive this wonderful gift of salvation through Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen!!!

Monday, March 13, 2006

"If It keeps Gettin' better and better"

Everyone today seems to be searching for one thing, HAPPINESS! First of all, it occurs to me that while we live in this fallen world I don't remember God or God incarnate (Jesus) ever giving the promise of "Happiness". Yet, we still search for it. Problem is, our culture is telling us to look for happiness in all the "wrong places". It's kind of like that old popular country song, "looking for love in all the wrong places, searching for love in too many faces..." (well you get the idea)...

Truth be told, we are taught that the "way" or "avenue" to finding this elusive yet desired state of being is found in "self-gratification". If I can just get "enough". Enough money, position, power, prestiege, or the like then I will be happy. Or maybe for some of the young people it's "if I can just get the right girlfriend/boyfriend or mate" then I'll truly be happy.

In an oversimplistic thought, it will serve us well to make note of two important truths; 1) There are not enough "things" in this world to make you happy. It was the millionaire Nelson Rockefellar who was asked, "How much money is enough" and responded, "just a little more". If we chase this dream, we'll waste our live in the "far country" like the Prodical Son. 2) There is no human being who can make you happy. If an individual is unhappy and gets married, that will be just more baggage which the couple will have to deal with. Candidly, I could write all night on these two thoughts....

I submit that instead of chasing happiness, God desires for us to "pursue Him" with the same passion which we pursue our selfish desires. And in case you, the reader, might think this is a bit much for God to expect, be reminded that God pursued us so diligently that His Son, Jesus, wound up on the cross, demonstrating the greatest display of love ever known to mankind.

Today, we can walk and live in the light of God's blessings. When we do, life is sweet. Oh yeah, we can discover happiness in His light, but watch....He's promised us peace, joy, love, security, and an eternal life. Guess what, eternal life on the other side of the grave and abundant life on earth. That is the measure of a life who is rightly related to God. It gets better and better and better and....(well you get the idea)

Bill Gaither put it in a song many years ago, "If it Keeps getting better and better O Lord, I don't know what I'm gonna do"..... Thank you, Jesus!!!!!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Blessings, joys, and why?

This week has been an outstanding week of joy. Our daughter, Christy, gave birth to a "beautiful" (Okay, she was the MOST BEAUTIFUL) little girl ever. Piper Josephine was born Wednesday, March 1, at 5:41pm. She weighed 9lbs 11 oz and was 21 1/2 inches long. Her skin was a gorgeous shade of pink, her hair brown, and she is as healthy as a horse (ah...well...she is very healthy)....At any rate, the entire family is super excited about this precious addition to our family.

As I held my first grand-child in my arms, filled with love and wonder at the miracle of birth and the joys which it brings, I wondered; "Is this how the angels in heaven feel at the birth of a new soul into the kingdom?" Luke 15 tells us the "angels rejoice". The same passage seems to imply that God Himself "kills His fatted calf and throws a party". WOW!

So I wondered, "if this is the case, why are we not seeing to it that more "spiritual babes" are being born into the kingdom?" Pondering this particular question causes "self-evaluation" and "reflection". Have I done my part to bring people into the kingdom? Am I doing my part to help the 'babes in Christ' grow up into mature believers and disciples?

Just as surely as Piper needs the assistance of everyone in our family, so does the new believer need the assistance of His/Her "Kingdom Family". We should be so diligent in our living that the new, impressionable believer can follow our example and know what it is to "walk in the spirit", "walk in love", "walk in light", and "walk as children of light". Our speech should always be seasoned with "grace". Our interaction should reflect and reveal "the great commandment".

WOW! Being a grand-parent is the "THING"! I will submit (during this, my first week as a grand-parent) that it should be just as great to be "Spiritual Grand-parents" and I should get just as excited about those coming into the Kingdom of Heaven as I do those coming into the Kingdom of this world through my earthly family. After all, both families are indeed connected by "blood relationships".

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