I really don't get some people. I found this on the ooze. I never knew that being a sports fan would send me to hell! Wow! I'm sure this sign is going to be flooding people into church! I just don't get it.
I guess they are talking about themselves too, because it includes hypocrites. God save us from ourselves!
I am all for capitalism! I want everyone who goes into a reputable business to make as much money as they can. Everyone! But my question is:
How much is too much?
Today, Wallace D. Malone, Jr., Vice Chairman and a director of the Wachovia Corporation (formerly the CEO of Southtrust in Birmingham, AL) is retiring @ 69. Having lived in Alabama, Southtrust is a strong bank and from what I've heard Mr. Wallace deserves to make a good living because he worked hard, plus he is a UA grad!
Wachovia is paying Malone $6.67 million up front. He will retain the automobile owned by Wachovia that he is using at the time of his retirement, valued at approximately $58,500. Mr. Malone will be provided with office space and administrative support for a period of five years. ($200,000 value). He will receive defered compensation of $34.61 million in stocks. $1.66 million will be paid in retirement. In addition, lump sum payments aggregating $33.88 million are payable to Mr. Malone following his retirement. On top of this he will receive an annual retirement benefit (subject to earnings adjustments) in the amount of approximately $10,545 for a period of ten years. Plus they are paying him a non-compete for 3 years.
Maybe he deserves all of this money. I just wonder about those employees who have worked for 30-40 years @ Southtrust- what will they receive? A watch? I don't know the answer to "how much is too much". I just see people hurting everyday and wonder "how much is too much?" With Enron, MCI, TYCO and other scandals, you wonder why the public is so sceptical of CEO's and major corporations. I believe in the trickle down theory of Regan. But, when does it trickle down to the those who work hard everyday. I know people who work years and give loyalty to a company to be tossed aside by the greed of stockholders and CEO's. Can they not live say on $5 million! Look, if Mr. Malone doesn't have a local church, I invite him to send his tithe to my church. My friend Jason could use the money for his start-up church. There are millions of people in Africa dying of AIDS. He is probably a very generous man. I'm sure he gives a lot of his money away. I don't fault him for making all of the money he can. But, "how much is too much?"
I realize I'm saying this as a man who is lucky to have a savings account. I don't want to be rich. I just wish we could see our country be more balanced financially. Happy retirement! I pray God will use you to make a difference in the world.
Mission statements, Purpose Statements, Vision Statements, etc... have become the vogue thing over the last 15-20 years. Corporations post them on the walls of their headquarters and on their websites. Employees are drilled in orientation on them.
Churches started getting into the Mission statements years ago. Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Church, encouraged every church to operate on purpose. His book had a great influence on my ministry. I even attended the Purpose Driven Church Conference @ Saddleback Church in California. Rick will tell you from the beginning not to copy Saddleback. He says to uses the principles he teaches but each church is unique. I am grateful for men like Rick Warren, John Maxwell and Bill Hybels that taught younger pastors you can do church in a fresh and unique way. The most important concept I learned from the three of them is living life on purpose.
In 1998, I attended a John Maxwell Conference with Bill Hybels. I decided I needed a personal mission/purpose statement.
To lead people to their full potential in
This has been the driving force in my life ever since. Cassandra pointed out to me that we didn't have a purpose/vision/mission statement for our family. Ouch! She was right! I'm thankful for her wisdom and insight. We began working on one and have made our own Bussey Mission Statement and Core Values that we want to live by as a family. We shared that with our children and it was cool! We will mess up! We won't live by them every hour or day. But if you don't live by something, you will live for nothing!
I think people, families, churches and organizations must decide why we are here. God placed us on earth for a reason. But if we go through life with our finger in the air we can be lead astray. We all need to live by a mission that is based on God's word.
Kevin, I have to say. Something is about to fall on Mobile. God just really seems to on a move. The dry spell may well be over and some rain of blessing is about to fall on us!! Keep us in your Prayers!!!
Those were words of an e-mail @ 3:30 AM I received from Brad (Soupie) Campbell, my former assisant in Mobile. They are having a Disciple Now this weekend that we planned before I left. They had 4 rededications and 2 accept Christ! PTL! Joe Kennedy is also speaking at a D-now in Mississippi.
I hope God does something amazing in Mobile. Our time there was tough. It was very dark and I would say it was the dryest time in our lives spiritually. Maybe God used us to prepare for a spiritual revival. I don't know, but I rejoice in the lives that were changed this weekend.
My prayer is for revival to swoop all over our nation. I'm ready to see God move in a way that only he can. I have talked with so many people that have experienced dry times in their lives recently. Henry Blackaby says that is when God is about to do something great. He humbles us so we will totally rely on Him.
I rejoice whenever I see God at work. I pray we see the move of God in Charlotte too!
Some of you have wondered where the name K-dawg came from. When we moved to Mobile all of the ministers were called "Brother." I am only a brother to Tim and Jenn, my siblings. In Seminary you always knew when someone didn't know your name because they would say, "hey brother." I didn't like being called "Brother." I just want to be Kevin.
Brad Johnson was my intern at FBTC. He is a cool guy from Elvis' hometown of Tupelo, MS. He is a big Bama football fan and a Godly young man. He is a talented guitarist and song-writer. He didn't want to call me "Brother" so he started calling me "K-dawg." The name stuck.
Today Brad works on staff @ Central Baptist Church in Decatur, AL. Their pastor Rob Jackson is a great friend and my former roomate. He married Tonya who was my wife Cassandra's best friend and roomate. Cool! What a small world.
Today, Brad sent his new CD to me. It is great! I recommend it highly! Thanks for the CD Brad, it is wonderful.
I know that some people are going to think I've lost my mind. After all the SBC boycotted Disney a few years ago. I did not participate! My children love the Disney Channel. We do limit the amount of TV they can watch. They love to watch the Disney TV shows and their movies. They enjoy it when Cass and I watch it with them. I used to think, "why would I want to watch a kid's show?" But, I have discovered that their shows are well done. You know what else I found, Disney knows how to connect with people.
Last weekend Jacob and Hope wanted to me to watch the new musical "High School Musical" on the Disney Channel. I thought I had better things to do. But, I sat and watched the movie. It was actually fun. It won't win an emmy or and Oscar. However, it connected with both young people and adults. It made me laugh and tugged at my heart. It was fun and moving. I know you think I lost my mind but Disney knows how to connect with the entire family. This is not the only show or movie that they have produced that I have felt this way.
The church can learn from Disney. NOT THEOLOGY! I'm talking about how to connect with people! We have a generation that is ignoring the church. We can moan and complain that church is not about entertainment. But the truth is people will not hear the truth if they don't hear it! What I mean is how are they going to hear if they don't come. We have to find ways of connecting with un-churched people in ways that they can understand. We as the church need to find ways to connect with the entire family-birth thru Senior Adults! Laugh if you want, but we can learn from Disney and others on how to connect with people.
Jan. 26, 1983 was one of those days I will always remember. I know he wasn't the President of the US or the Pope or anyone who changed history. But Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant was a legend in Alabama and in all of college football. He retired from Alabama and coached his last football game at the Liberty Bowl in Memphis a few weeks earlier. I guess he wasn't suppose to enjoy retirement. He died on that date.
I know there are a lot of rednecks in Alabama who idolize THE BEAR. There are a lot of fans who never attended the University of Alabama. It's really a small state school compared to others. In fact it is smaller than Auburn and UAB.
I loved coach Bryant because I actually knew him. I'm not going to pretend he was a friend of the family, but he attended my church growing up. He wasn't there very often, but his wife was there every week sitting with our pastor's wife. Whenever coach Bryant entered the church I stood in awe of the man. He had a John Wayne type presence. His voice was deep. He was friendly and actually took time to acknowledge me. My dream was to play football @ the U of A. But coach Bryant wasn't looking for a slow white cornerback.
He was a generous man and even gave some support money to my dad's ministry. He accepted Christ the year before he died when Steadman Shealy (former Bama National Championship QB) led him to Christ. Steadman, Jeff Rutledge and Keith Pugh all attended our church and had a spiritual impact on the Bear.
Coach Bryant loved people. You could knock on his door and he would talk with you. My aunt went to High School with him in Arkansas. She came to visit us and she said she was going to call Paul. I told her she was crazy, he would never talk with her. Two hours later she got off the phone. That was the kind of man he was.
A month before he died my grandfather went by his office and Coach Bryant gave my Grandpa (from Ohio even) an autographed pictured with the date. I'll bet it's worth some money. It hangs in my office today.
Call me a redneck or whatever, but I remember where I was when I heard Coach Bryant died. I was @ Samford University in the cafeteria. I remember being moved. Not because of football, but because the kind of man he was. He loved people and he took time for a young boy like me. I will always love THE BEAR and will cherish my memories of seeing him @ church and leaning on the goal-post at Bryant-Denny Statium!
Tomorrow marks the 1 year anniverary for my blog! Boy has it come a long way. Angela Davis my former intern in Mobile got me started. She is a wiz on the computer. At first, I didn't know much about bloging. Probably only a few people in Mobile read it. Then Joe Kennedy (one of my college/now seminary students) gave me a cool template to use and added me to his friends list. Then I started meeting people all over the country. I have new gotten back in contact with old friends such as Jason Burns and others. I've met cool new people on the net too. I've become educated on SBC matters and challenged in my beliefs. I've learned about grace, humility and love. I've seen ugliness and intollerance. I've learned about how to straighten hair. I've laughed, I've cried, I've gotten angry, I've been moved and realized that our world is really pretty small. So Happy Anniversary to my blog and may there be many more!
P.S. The reason I'm posting today is because tomorrow I'm going with Cass and the kids on their homeschool field trip to a potato chip factory. Ummmm!
William Shatner (Captain Kirk from Star Trek) has sold a piece of his body for charity. His pain in the rear is actually making $$$! Shatner sold a Kidney Stone for $25,000 to GoldenPalace.Com. The money will be donated by Shatner to Habitat for Humanity to build houses for the poor.
This has my mind wondering how I can raise some cash. What do you think? What are some creative ways I can raise $? Remember the guy who sold everything he owned on Ebay? I'm all about marketing and promotion. Maybe I could auction off an authographed Bible that I use to speak from on Sundays. Maybe I could auction off my study notes I use during the week. How about selling an autographed church bulletin. Man, the possibilities are endless. I will give the $ to missions. Let's be creative. Shatner may be on to something!
I'm sorry the Panthers lost Sunday. I really would have loved to see them in the Super Bowl because the city would be rockin. Plus we are having a big Super Bowl Outreach at our church. But since they lost, I have to pull for my man Shaun Alexander. He had a great game Sunday and will bring home the Lombardi Trophy to the Hawks.
If you are looking for a great idea for gifts for me next Christmas. Here are a few ideas from Shaun's site.
Signed 2003 Flair, #38Proceeds Benefit the Shaun Alexander Foundation. (Card 10: 7)Price: $19.00Shaun Alexander Signed 2004 Reebok Replica JerseyJersey includes a certificate of authenticity. Proceeds Benefit the Shaun Alexander Foundation. Price: $199.00Shaun Alexander Authentic Alabama Jersey!Just in! We have only 4 of these rare, authentic Alabama Jersey's, hand signed by Shaun Alexander. Own a piece of Crimson Tide History.Price: $1,200.00
Wouldn't I look cool wearing these? ;)
When I take a trip to a place I've never been, I will take out a map and figure out which way is the quickest, shortest and least stressful way to go. However, I have realized that in order to travel accurately I have to buy new maps every year. Maps change because our country is growing. I saw a map of 1938 Texas and could not believe how much it has changed. Dallas and Ft. Worth were actually separate cities. There were no interstates and no loops around any city. Maps change constantly.
So how do know how to go when the maps are constantly changing. What do we do when they just might be in-accurate? We have to use a compass! A compass always points north and allows us to know what direction we are headed.
Our world is changing constantly and the maps on how to get people to church have changed. Some of the programs and ministries that have been beloved by churches have become like old maps. They are not useful anymore. So what do we do? We have to depend on our compass. Our compass is the Bible and it points to Jesus. See lots of people are scared of change because they believe it leads to heresy. They are afraid it will lead to liberalism or the ways of the world. That can happen only when the leaders refuse to use the compass (the Bible). But the maps are changing and we have to create, buy or borrow new maps!
Judges 2:10 (NIV)
After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel.
How tragic to see a whole generation that does not even know God. People have free will and not everyone will accept Christ. Even the best parents can have children who reject Christ. But what about those who never hear about Jesus. They are a "lost generation!" The most recent stats I found show that only 5% of Europe attend church - In Canada only 19% and in the US 35% . Whose fault is that? I blame the church. The maps have changed and we haven't updated them.
My passion in life is to reach the "lost generation." I am obsessed with making sure that the church I serve is relevant in our community. I am burdened by all of the people who don't know about God because "the church" has not updated the maps. We will be true to the compass (the Bible) but we will be changing our maps!
I have a confession to make. I am torn about the NFC Championship tomorrow. I have been a Shaun Alexander fan since he was a freshman at Alabama. He single-handedly helped Bama win the SEC Championship his senior year. This year he won the NFL MVP award. A few weeks ago I said I don't promote Christian athletes. OK, I still love his Godly example off the field. He signs every autograph with Psalm 37:4 (NIV)
Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires
of your heart.
But now I live in Charlotte, NC. I have liked the Panthers since they came into the NFL. Kindell Morehead is a Bama grad too. Also Karl Hankston lives just down the street from us and he has been very kind to Jacob and all of the children in our neighborhood. So tomorrow I will cheer for the Panthers to win but I hope Shaun has 100+ yards and a TD. Then after the season, I want the Panthers to sign him as a free agent so I can see him play here in Charlotte.
Marty Duren asked an important question in SBC life. Is it important to strategize or not? In this post-modern age we live in many people are fearful of strategy. They will argue that we need to be moved by the Spirit or lets go with the flow.
I think this is dangerous. I'm not suggesting that every church copy other churches strategies. In fact, that is very unwise. What works in Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas and even Greenbow, AL (Forrest Gump's hometown) does not always work in our own area. But we can learn from other successful churches and even business people. We can learn how to strategize and how to minister effectively. I think some businesses and unfortunately many churches use the finger in the air strategy. They lick their finger and follow the way the wind is blowing.
When I lived in a certain southern city, there was a church that was a feeding ground for disgruntled Christians. They were the flavor of the month. I lived a block from this church. They were a "Purpose Driven Church" and they were growing. When I came home from church, they were packed out with people. I heard great things about their church. Then for some reason the pastor decided to change their strategy almost overnight. Their staff went to "Weekends @ Northpoint" in Alpharetta, GA and came back to become this city's "Northpoint." They were already running 2000 people at the time. They completely changed their ministry and their attendance dropped significantly. I could tell the dramatic drop in attendance every Sunday by looking at the parking lot.
Strategy is valuable. I'm reading Malphurs book on Strategic Planning and found these passages interesting. Exodus 18 Jethro challenged Moses to think strategically. Joshua 6, 8 and 10 are examples of strategic thinking. Nehemiah 3-6. Proverbs 14:15, 22; 15:22; 16:3-4; 19:21 20:18; 21:30. Jesus gave strategy Matthew 28:18-20 and Mark 16:15. Acts 13:1 - 21:26 Paul did not wander aimlessly.
Strategy is a must. But it must be the strategy that God gives us for our specific ministry.
Have you ever noticed that people seem to get the blues after Christmas and New Years? I wonder why that it? I know Cassandra has a always had a hard time during the holidays because of her strained family relationships. Her parents divorced when she was 5. Now the 1st part of January is difficult because her dad died 2 years ago.
I think Christmas season has gotten out of hand. Our society doesn't celebrate Christ's birthday anymore. It is more about shopping and gift giving. That is why I like Thanksgiving more because it is only about being thankful to God and spending time with friends and family. I think people get so consumed with Christmas and it's over so quickly. Then they go into depression by New Years.
I have several friends who are in need of encouragement right now. They have called and e-mailed me because they are discouraged in their ministry. They are great people who God has used in my life and for the Kingdom. I want to be a Barnabas to them and others. For anyone who is in need of encouragement right now, I pray that you will stand strong. When I think of these friends Barnabas comes to mind because they have been such encouragements to me.
Acts 11:21-23 (NIV)
The Lord's hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord. News of this reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.
To my friends take heart. I have seen your ministry. I have seen God use you in my life and others. God is with you and eventhough things look bleak you have made a difference in my life and I am grateful!
Steve McCoy has a great discussion going on his blog about SBC policies at seminaries. One of his concerns is at Southern Seminary the students are forced to sign an agreement not to drink alcohol while they attend seminary. He is concerned with "extra-biblical" rules that are placed on students such as obstaining from drinking alcohol. He says that some IMB missionaries are placed in difficult situations on the mission field in regards to alcohol. In some cultures it is accepted that wine, beer and other adult beverages are provided at every meal. But IMB missionaries are prohibited from drinking and often offend those who they are trying to minister to.
This is a difficult subject for me. I don't drink. I never have been a drinker. My grandfather (father's side) was an alcoholic and died of liver cancer because of his drinking. I never had the desire to drink. My father told me if I wanted to try alcohol he would buy it for me and let me try it at home because he didn't want me driving on the road as a teenager. I grew up in Tuscaloosa, AL the home of party town USA. If I had wanted it, I could have easily had all I wanted. Then I was in a Fraternity in college. I guess I never wanted alcohol because it was never forbidden and I saw the dangers it posed to others.
I entered the ministry and never have had a problem with wanting to drink alcohol. I enjoy OJ and coffee to much to worry about having a beer. When I was in student ministry I was asked if drinking alcohol was a sin. I can't support in the Bible anywhere that drinking alcohol is sin. Jesus turned water into wine. Paul suggested to Timothy to drink a little wine with his water for his stomach. So I can't in good conscience say that drinking alcohol is a sin. But I have never been a drinker. The only alcohol I have ever tasted was at an Episopal church in communion. I did not like it and vowed never to drink.
I guess I became legalistic about alcohol because I associate drinking with getting drunk. I'm afraid if I were to drink I would become like Jim on Taxi because of my family history. A few years ago God began to break the box I had him in.
I visited a man's house in Canton, GA who was a possible worship leader for our church. He was showing me his media room and I could not believe all of the alcohol in that room. It was like a bar. I was taken aback. Then at supper his 11 year old daughter brought in a neighbor that she had just led to Christ! WOW! Did I feel stupid.
Is drinking alcohol a sin? No. But I don't get the facination with alcohol. In Jesus day the worst thing that could happen to a drunk driver was to fall off a camel! Now days, alcohol kills. Drunk driving is an epidemic. Not only that there are Christians who "flaunt their freedom in Christ" by saying they can drink because it is not a sin. Go check out the ooze and you will find Christians on that site with avatars of beer. They almost rub it in your face. If a believer wants to drink, then do it quietly. Don't flaunt your "freedom."
Why do I refrain from drinking? First, my grandfather was an alcoholic and doctors say the disease can be inherrited. Second, it can be a bad testimony for me.
Romans 14:21 (NIV)
It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.
This verse is why I don't drink. I don't want to make someone stumble. Maybe this isn't an issue for you. But for me I would hate to keep someone from coming to Christ because I wanted to drink alcohol. I would hate to cause a younger Christ Follower to stumble because they saw me drinking. I feel the same about seeing certain movies. Would I eat a dinner with someone who does drink? Yes, I have and still will. I won't make them feel uncomfortable either. Jesus ate and drank with sinners. I will eat and drink iced tea or coffee with them and not say a word about their drink. I just want to be their friend and hope to share my relationship with Christ with them. If God doesn't give you the same conviction, fine. I can fellowship and worship with you. Those are my thoughts and they are not infallible.
Nit-pickin vs constructive criticism--a question for leaders.
I am a postive person by nature so when I hear nit-pickin, I tend to shut it out. How do you know when someone is trying to actually help you rather than nit-pick? I notice on talk radio that people seem to nit-pick. If I were an athlete or politician, I wouldn't listen to talk radio or read publications because of the nit-pickin.
What about church? I know Ed Young Jr., Andy Stanley and others have creative teams that evaluate the performance of their ministries and services. Have any of you had a good experience with a team like this? If so, how did you put the team together? Was it entirely staff or a mixture of staff and church members? What parameters do you put in place so it is constructive criticism and doesn't offend parties involved? How often do you meet? When? Thanks in advance for any ideas!
Turn on the average church service on TV or radio and I would dare say most of the messages (if you want to call them that) are filled with yelling and screaming! Why? I really don't undstand what people are trying to accomplish. If we as followers of Christ and ministers are sharing "THE GOOD NEWS" then why the loud volume? Why the anger? If it is truly the GOOD NEWS, why are people so angry?
This is a conviction that has come out of my own life. When I surrendered to the call of becoming a pastor, my pastor asked me to preach for him occasionally on Wednesday nights. People enjoyed hearing me and I felt God was using me. But my last chance to speak there before I went to Seminary, I thought I had "THE MESSAGE"-- I was going to let them have it! I had a cute opening that I stole from Rush Limbaugh and I was going to make every flame throwing preacher proud. Following my sermon, I felt empty. I lost the people. I could see it in their faces. I came across angry. Not at them but the way my message came across, IT WAS NOT GOOD NEWS!
I vowed from that day on that I would allow the Holy Spirit and the Bible convict, not my actions or the volume of my voice. When I study the Bible, especially the New Testament, I don't see Jesus yelling. The only people he got angry with were the religious people who didn't live for God. He got angry with the hypocrites. When Jesus talked to Zacheus, the woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery and the thief on the cross--He had compassion.
So why are we yelling? If we have good news shouldn't we be happy?
I was on the ooze earlier and someone asked, "what was your first car?" My first car was a 1970 Ford Maverick. It ran and that was about it. It had no AC. I had an underdash FM radio with an 8-track player. What was your first car?
Momentum is a tricky thing. Those people or organizations that have it are able to do amazing things. When you have the MO it is like riding a bike down a big hill. You don't have to pedal, you just ride fast. I'll bet Mack Brown @ Texas doesn't have to recruit very hard this year to get football players to come play for him. Why? Texas has the Big Mo after winning the national championship.
This morning I begin speaking at my new church. There is a rich tradition here and God has done great things in the past. But there has been a stall in the MO! Whenever new leadership begins, an organization is ripe for the big Mo! We are starting some new ministries over the next few months. There is an excitement in the air. We need a few victories. We need to see God do some great things. Now is the time to seize the big Mo! I pray that we will start with a lot of momentum.
Prayer is key. The early church in Acts had momentum. They saw 1000's of people come to Christ. They had a mega-church from the beginning. They didn't rest after they had a huge group of new converts. They had the big Mo! In Acts 2, 3000 people responded to Peter's message. The MO was flowing. They still kept working. They worshiped together, fellowshiped, broke bread and prayed. They could have said we have over 3000 baby Christians we can't handle anymore. But they kept working. The big Mo can't be stopped. Acts 2 says the Lord added to their numbers daily that were being saved. That is the big Mo!
I am praying for God to give us the big Mo! I just want to be part of something bigger than myself. With God's grace and a little momentum I think I can!
I am so glad to be back in a Metro area! Call me crazy but I even like the traffic. When I see lots of cars, I see people who need Jesus! Charlotte is a cool town. I love downtown. It is actually a place you can go at night--unlike downtown Atlanta. I have only 2 beefs. One is there is not a Starbucks in my general vicinity. There's one in Northlake Mall, which is only 10 minutes away, but it is in the opposite direction of the church. So I go to a local shop to meet people. Haven't met many yet. They have free wi-fi which is nice. The second is shopping is far away, except the mall and Wal-mart. Home Depot and Lowes are at least 25 min. away. I've been told things will change when I-485 is finished circling Charlotte. We live only a few miles from where it will pass. So we have that to look forward to.
Looking forward to the weekend. I speak on Sunday for the 1st time (well actually I spoke on Wed.) in as Lead Pastor at DMBC. I'm talking about the big "MO" (momentum) and hope we can get the ball rolling here. I can't wait to watch the NFL playoffs. I am turning to the dark side and pulling for the Panthers (I still like the Falcons and Vick). One of the Panthers lives at the end of our street. I hope to meet him soon. Cassandra is excited about the homeschooling opportunities here. They have so much more to offer than Mobile. Not quite what Atlanta had but still good. Jacob and Hope will start going to a few classes with other homeschoolers next week.
Update: 4:42PMI'm pumped, I just found a Schlotzskys! They went out of biz in Mobile. I love that place! Awesome! God is good! I also got off the phone with Larry Anderson of Youth For Christ and I think he is going to help me in the area of staffing. Cool! God really is good!
This is an attempt to be as gracious and respectful to the leadership in the Southern Baptist Convention. I have been a member of a SBC church since I was 11 years old. I was a member of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa, AL (which was a conservative church) in the 1970's. I felt called to vocational ministry but my church was concerned about my attending Samford University because of the "liberal" theology. I joined Shades Mountain Baptist and then Dawson Memorial while I was at Samford and UAB. I did not major in religion because I was scared of the "liberals." The fighting going on in SBC life drove me away from ministry!
It wasn't until I joined Southside Baptist Church in Huntsville, AL that I surrendered to the calling I had 8-9 years earlier. I decided to attend Southwestern Seminary in Ft. Worth, TX because it was the so-called "Flagship" of the convention. I was told it was the one seminary with the least controversy. I fell in love with Southwestern. I loved my professors like Dr. Urrey, Dr. Lunceford, Dr. Fish, and our president Dr. Dilday. Then the day that scared me for life was when the trustees fired Dr. Dilday. We were told it was for our best interest. But Dr. Dilday is not a "liberal." He may cooperate with those who were not in the "Fundementalist" camp, but he is a good man. I saw how ugly politics can be in SBC life and vowed not to be involved in politics.
I felt called to start a church a few years ago. I responded to Dr. Reccord's message at Peachtree Corners Baptist. I think very highly of him. I jumped through every hoop the leaders in the Convention asked. The people at NAMB were nothing but cooperative and supportive. One executive in another organization (not NAMB) tried to cheat me out of money that was promised to me. Again, I saw politics in action. It is bad when you have members of your denomination cheating you out of money. I again vowed I would not be involved in SBC politics.
I was on staff with a large church in Alabama that had an ugly secret that I knew nothing about. After the pastor left (and 500 + people) the church decided to cut their staff's salaries. Again, I saw the ugliness of politics in SBC life. I was tempted to leave the calling God had put on my life because I felt my denomination didn't care about it's young leaders. Cooler heads prevailed.
God was good and has placed me in a loving congregation in Charlotte, NC. But, I am again disturbed by the direction of the SBC. Wade Burleson who is a trustee of the International Mission Board has been asked by the trustees to be removed from his position just because he chose to speak for me and other young SBC pastors. I hurt for him and his family. I also hurt for the younger leaders in the SBC who feel we are not important. Many younger SBC pastors are leaving the SBC. I can understand why. My prayer and plea is that the leaders in the SBC will listen to those of us who are "COOPERATING CONSERVATIVES!" We love the SBC and want to be part of something bigger than ourselves. We love our history but are concerned about our future. I respectfully ask that you will allow us to help shape the future of the SBC.
Tony Campolo wrote a book by the same name a few years ago. Power is a dangerous thing. Whoever has the power can harm those who don't have the power. Some people believe they are right no matter want. I can't tell you how many times I have seen or heard Christian leaders in power tell others that they are doing what is best. They say that they have prayed about it. They say that they know what is best. Has God given them a direct line to himself? Just because they have power doesn't mean they are right.
I am heartbroken for Wade Burleson who is a pastor from OK and a trustee for the SBC International Mission Board. This week he was at the IMB meeting and questioned new policies that the trustees were forcing on new missionaries. The trustees have asked for his removal at the SBC convention this summer in Greensboro, NC. Those who are in power don't want to listen to open dialogue .
The older leaders in the SBC wonder why so many younger pastors are leaving the SBC. This is why! I was at Southwestern Seminary when the schools trustees tried to ruin the reputation of Dr. Rusell Dilday. He is a good man but they fired him.
I have always liked the theology of the SBC. I love the idea behind the Cooperative Program that allows churches to voluntarily give money to missions. But we are not the Roman Catholic Church! Each church voluntarily gives. Why can't those in power listen to some of the younger leaders? The younger generation does not respond well to "Because we say so!" The leaders in the SBC need to listen to the younger leaders. We need more Jerry Rankin's and Bob Reccord's who actually talk to us and listen to us. Dr. Rankin actually wrote me back when I contacted him. Dr. Reccord is a man who I have know for 8 years and when he is with you he actually listens to you.
This summer there will be a large group of younger SBC pastors at the convention. We have said we want to stay out of politics, but this is our denomination too! In the past we just built our churches and did the work God called us to do! Somehow I have the feeling it will be different this year.
Jason Burns is a long-time friend. His Church The Springs Church is having it's second preview service this Sunday. Jason was a consultant for the Etowah Baptist Association in Georgia and helped me greatly. He left to go to Nicaragua as an IMB missionary. He has since come back to Georgia and starting a new church thru the Georgia Baptist Convention. Please pray that God will bless their work this Sunday.
I mentioned 2 weeks ago that our family was shopping in Concord, NC. It is a suburb of Charlotte and where the Lowes Motor Speedway is located. There was a group of people on the street corner that had a huge sound-system and they were yelling at people driving by "Abortion is Murder" and they had the Ten Commandments posted as large as an cargo van. They were wearing the following shirts that MMI pointed out today on their blog.
The group is Operation Rescue. Philip L. (Flip) Benham is their director. I don't for a minute think they don't mean well. I think they truly want to see our nation turn to Christ. I believe they want to save unborn babies!
I just don't see Jesus wearing a shirt like this! I don't see Jesus yelling at people as they enter Discovery Mills Mall. I don't see Jesus condemning people! I see Jesus loving them. I see Jesus telling them to go and sin no more. I see Jesus hangingout with the homosexual, the Islamic person and the woman who has had an abortion. That is the Jesus I serve.
I think t-shirts and protests like the one I saw do more harm to the Kingdom of God. Those of us who try each day to build relationships with people in the "gutter" realize they are going to live like lost people. Their lives will be messy! They will do things that Christ Followers will not like or approve of. But does that excuse us from loving them? Jesus displayed love for everyone including the Pharisees. So must I!
Have you ever noticed that recovering alcoholics and smokers are the one's who seem to notice smoke or alcohol when it's around? They can't stand to be around it because it reminds them of a bad habit that they have kicked. Maybe that is why it is so hard for me to see the hypocrisy of Pharisee's. I was one! I used to stick my foot in my mouth more often than not. I can't believe how I use to act.
I'm still reading "THE GUTTER" by Craig Gross and it is very insightful. It also makes me angry. I don't know what makes me angrier, the Pharisees he exposes in his book or the unfortunate fact that 15 years ago, I was one of them! Gross and his partner Mike are missionaries to the Porn industry. You know who gives them the most grief? Who opposes them the most? You guessed it the church! Ouch! Who needs Christ more, the healthy or the sick? The sick. We need to remember that when we get in the "gutter" it is ugly. When we minister to lost people, they will act like lost people. Why should we think any differently? I will continue to expose Pharisees because I know how they think. I know the self-righteousness. I know the holier than thou attitudes. Why? Because I'm still a recovering Pharisee!
Today was pretty cool. My new church DMBC had a installation service for me as their new pastor. They suprised me by having my father deliver the message. It was very nice. During his message he quoted from John 13:34-35,
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
We can fight about who is right. We can argue over the Bible. But it all comes back to love. Jesus said that the way people will know we are disciples of Jesus is how we treat one-another. I don't think the "church" does a very good job at this. I'm grateful to be at a local church that seems to genuinely love each other. My challenge is that "The Church" starts loving each other. We can disagree. We don't even have to like each other, but we must love each other. Imagine what a difference we can make in the world if "seekers" see Christ Followers who love one another!
Sometimes it is just best to keep quiet. Pat Robertson is at it again. He keeps making statements that just turn off non-believers. Earlier in the year he called for the assisination of the ruler of Venezuela. This week he said that God was punishing Ariel Sharon of Israel. Where does he get this stuff? Those of us who are Christians must wonder why non-believers are so hostile towards us. Maybe people like Pat Roberson make "seekers" think we are a bunch of wacko's. There is nothing constructive in what Robertson said. He is not helping those of us who are trying to build relationships with skepticks, seekers, atheists and agnostics. Why would they want to talk with us? They will think we are closed-minded crazy's.
Sometimes it is in our best interest to keep quiet. Sometimes for other people it is best to keep quiet. I just pray that I don't harm a potential witnessing opportunity for other believers. When in doubt, shhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!
No, I'm not talking about reading, writing and arithmatic. I'm talking about the three R's of the "emerging church." Ed Stetzer wrote a great article about this here. There are a lot of people who have mis-labled the emerging church or "post-moderns." This article is the best I have seen in SBC life concerning the emerging church. His 3 R's are as following:
Relevants.Yes, I made up the word. Sorry about the grammar. However, it expresses an important idea. There are a good number of young (and not so young) leaders who some classify as "emerging" that really are just trying to make their worship, music and outreach more contextual to emerging culture. Ironically, while some may consider them liberal, they are often deeply committed to biblical preaching, male pastoral leadership and other values common in conservative evangelical churches.They are simply trying to explain the message of Christ in a way their generation can understand. The contemporary churches of the 1980s and 90s did the same thing (and some are still upset at them for doing so). However, if we find biblical preaching and God-centered worship in a more culturally relevant setting, I rejoice just as I would for international missionaries using tribal cultural forms in Africa.The churches of the "relevants" are not filled with the angry white children of evangelical megachurches. They are, instead, intentionally reaching into their communities (which are different than where most Southern Baptists live) and proclaiming a faithful biblically-centered Gospel there. I know some of their churches -- they are doctrinally sound, growing and impacting lostness.-- Reconstructionists.The reconstructionists think that the current form of church is frequently irrelevant and the structure is unhelpful. Yet, they typically hold to a more orthodox view of the Gospel and Scripture. Therefore, we see an increase in models of church that reject certain organizational models, embracing what are often called "incarnational" or "house" models. They are responding to the fact that after decades of trying fresh ideas in innovative churches, North America is less churched, and those that are churched are less committed. Yet, God's plan is deeply connected with the church (see Ephesians 3:10). God's Word prescribes much about what a church is. So, if emerging leaders want to think in new ways about the forms (the construct) of church, that's fine -- but any form needs to be reset as a biblical form, not just a rejection of the old form. Don't want a building, a budget and a program? OK. Don't want the Bible, scriptural leadership, covenant community? Not OK. (For an excellent summary, see NAMB's document by Stan Norman called "Ecclesiological Guidelines to Inform Southern Baptist Church Planters.") Also, we must not forget, if reconstructionists simply rearrange dissatisfied Christians and do not impact lostness, it is hardly a better situation than the current one. Revisionists.Much of the concern has been addressed at those I call revisionists. Right now, many of those who are revisionists are being read by younger leaders and perceived as evangelicals. They are not -- at least according to our evangelical understanding of Scripture. We significantly differ from them regarding what the Bible is, what it teaches and how we should live it in our churches. I don't hate them, question their motives and I won't try to mischaracterize their beliefs. But, I won't agree with them.Revisionists are questioning (and in some cases denying) issues like the nature of the substitutionary atonement, the reality of hell, the complementarian nature of gender, and the nature of the Gospel itself. This is not new -- some mainline theologians quietly abandoned these doctrines a generation ago. The revisionist emerging church leaders should be treated, appreciated and read as we read mainline theologians -- they often have good descriptions, but their prescriptions fail to take into account the full teaching of the Word of God.
I think I would fall in the Relevant's camp. There are many leaders who are scared of the emerging church and criticize it because they don't understand it. I desire to be Biblically sound and Relevant! I am not angry! Thanks Ed for defining what I have been trying to define for myself!
I'm reading a great book by Craig Gross called, "The Gutter: Where Life is Meant to be Lived." It is very thought provoking. He challenges every Christian to find the "gutter" the place where people aren't like them and reach out to that group for the sake of Jesus. He and a friend started the XXX Church that reaches out to people in the porn industry. Neither one of them had a problem with porn in the past but felt convicted to reach out to those people. They have had their fare share of criticism from other Christians. (go figure) Don't you think those are the people who need Christ the most?
Anyway the reached out to one of the main leaders in the porn industry and have become his friend. The 700 Club intervied them and the Porn guru and asked him if his life had been changed. He said he has not accepted Christ but respects Craig and his partner. The 700 Club finished their report by stating that they were not successful in making him a convert and that they were more sucessful with their website. The implication was if they don't put a notch on their Bible then they haven't been successful. Is that Biblical?
Jesus told us to "GO" in Matthew 28:18. I believe those who share their faith will lead people to Christ, but does not leading someone to Christ mean that our effort to share Jesus was not successful? I think that is wrong! Personally, I have the gift of evangelism and more times than not when I share my faith people accept Christ. I don't say that arrogantly. I say it because it is not me--it is a gift that God has given me. But is my obedience in sharing with someone and them accepting Christ better than someone who shares their faith with another and they reject it? I say NO!.
Dr. Roy Fish was my Evangelism Professor at Southwestern Seminary. He challenged us in so many ways. He said that the average person must hear the good news of Jesus 7 times before they accept Him into their lives. He asked this question-- "Are you willing to be #6?" Are you willing to share your faith all your life and never see a person come to Christ? I think #'s 1-6 are just as valuable as a person like me who seems to be a #7! We are all needed. I think success is measured in changed lives and how obedient we have been to the calling Jesus has given us!
What an awesome game last night. USC was 34-0 over the last 3 years and going for a 3-peat in NCAA football. They were playing the Texas Longhorns who were ranked # 2. All of the so-called experts were calling USC a dynasty. USC had 2 heisman trophy winners. They are an awesome team but no one was giving Texas a chance. In the words of Lee Corso of ESPN, "not so fast my friend." Texas won an exciting game and the National Championship.
The experts aren't always right. Some people make themselves experts and actaully become arrogant. This isn't reserved only for sports. In the work-place, home, school and at church some people feel they are God's answer for everything. "Not so fast my friend." Arrogance is completely against the nature of God. Just look at what is going on in the SBC. Wade Burleson had a great article about bullying in the SBC. The conservative resurgence of the 1970's and 1980's was very needed in the SBC. There were many liberal bullies in positions in the SBC and needed to be removed. Now they have been replaced with conservative bullies. Some of these leaders feel that God has placed them in position to control. After all, they are the experts. I worked for a pastor that had the arrogance to tell his staff that God had given him a special power to know what was right for the church. "NOT SO FAST MY FRIEND!" What if the experts are wrong?
There are black and white truths in the Bible. We as followers of Christ must live by those. But in my years of life I have come to understand that God doesn't give us everything in black and white. I wish He did. But what has happened over the centuries is there are different denominations and beliefs that agree on the key beliefs. Why can't we just live in harmony with those. Unfortunately, the arrogant want to say they know best and their way is right. "Not so fast my friend." What will happen when we get to heaven and we find out that those who have the most crowns and rewards in heaven are not the ones who are the "so called" experts today. I can see it now--the "Experts" will try to take their place in the high places of heaven and God will say, "Not so fast my friend."
The nation rejoiced late last night when it was reported that 13 miners trapped in a coal mine in West Virginia were alive. I watched CNN and families were reporting that the workers were going to walk into the Sago Baptist Church as soon as they came out. This morning the news was grim. Somebody jumped the gun and said all of the miners were alive when in truth only one was alive. How devastating the news must have been for the families of the miners. I can only pray for them today.
I think this is a lesson for all of us to be careful to find out the facts of a situation before we share it with others. Those of us who are followers of Jesus need to be especially careful talking about sensitive issues with each other. We can be guilty of gossip and not even realize it. Sometimes we share prayer requests for fellow believers when in reality we are sharing gossip. This is a reminder for me to make sure I know everything and is the news I have really edifying for others to hear.
Remember the notes in school, "if you like me check yes if not check no?" It seems that we try to make things in black and white. I use to be the poster child for "black and white" view-points. I never saw grey. I sure never saw things the way other people did.
Then I noticed something. I always seemed to be at odds with someone. I didn't like that. I decided a few years ago that I was going to stop being against things and start being for things and people! I decided I was going to be positive instead of negative. I was going to see things half full rather than half empty. It changed my life. I am able to see things from a different perspective.
There is a major controversy brewing in the SBC. The IMB trustees are trying to change the rules for missionaries. You can read the contovery for yourself at Marty Duren's blog or Wade Burleson's. It seems that some leaders in the SBC have to have something to be against! Why can't we be for something for a change. Instead of boycotting Disney, let's minister to Disney. Instead of calling people who have abortions - murderer's lets love them and show them the mercy and grace of God. Instead of hating people whose lifestyles are different than ours, lets love them into the church and let God change their habits and lifestyles. Lets be "FOR" rather than against!
Jesus was pro-people and for rather than against. He was for Peter. He was for the woman caught in adultery. He was for the woman at the well. He was for the theif on the cross. He was for you and for me. He doesn't accept sin and neither should we. But He accepts us just the way we are and when we accept Him and grow in our relationship with Him our lives change. Imagine the difference we could make in the world if "seekers" saw Christians being for rather than against!
Today The University of Alabama Football Team played in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, TX. Bama is back! The #2 Defense in the country held one of the most powerful offenses to 10 points! They averaged 44 a game. But ESPN called it an "UGLY" win. What is an ugly win? Can you have a pretty loss? Isn't the object of any game to win? In 1992 Alabama kept winning ugly. They were called the worst 9-0, 10-0, 11-0, and 12-0 team in the country. Then they killed Miami and went 13-0 and won the National Championship. I'll take an ugly win any day vs. a pretty loss.
Life is the same way. Some people are so concerned with looking good but they are losing in life. The object in life is to be successful. A succesful person just wants to win. In the Christian's life it is no different. Some of the greatest successes are ugly. God has used murderer's, adulterer's, protitutes, liar's, and even me. My life may be ugly in the eyes of the world, but if I follow Jesus I win and no matter how ugly it is it is a win. We can fake it and look good to the world but fail in God's eyes. God isn't going to ask us at Judgment Day if we looked good, he is going to ask if we followed Him and what did we do for Him--ugly or not. A "W" is win and an "L" is a loss in everything --even if it is ugly or beautiful.
Today at church someone was talking about an editorial in the Charlotte Observer from a Jewish person saying that they are not offended by Christmas. They said that Jews don't have Hannukah Trees and Muslims don't have tress for their holidays. The person said just call it what it is a "Christmas" tree.
Political Correctness is bad enough in the secular world but in church? Ughh! A few weeks ago I shared how my "Baptist" University, Samford sent me a "Holiday" card and sent "Seasons Greetings." That was bad but Samford is not known for being a conservative school. Tonight I was driving around in Charlotte and saw a BAPTIST church that had "HAPPY HOLIDAYS" on their sign. I would expect that from a Unitarian Church or United Church of Christ, but a Baptist Church! If Christian churches can't talk about Christmas who can?
I'm all for bending over backwards to not offend people who are not Christ Followers. I don't want to go out of my way to offend people. I saw a church group on the corner of a busy street in Concord, NC the other night screaming at people using a loud sound system about the evils in the world. They were screaming about abortion, the 10 commandments being posted in buildings and other things. I am pro-life and pro- 10 commandments. But we ought to love people who are pro-abortion and love them to Christ and He will change their hearts. We should quit screaming about the 10 commandments and start living them. I wish we could be for stuff rather than against things.
I am all about being "Seeker Sensitive." I try to meet people where they are. But if we take away "Jesus Christ" from our "Christian" churches, what do we have? We become a social club, political group or the Mormans. Christian churches should never be ashamed of Jesus. I'm not offended by Hannukah, Ramadan, Yom Kippur or any other holiday from other faiths. Why should we be ashamed of one of our most important holidays. Happy Holidays in government I can accept, I may not like it, but I can accept it. But church, not in church.
In no specific order:
1. To love more. (God, family, church, others)
2. To live for now.
3. To be more relevant.
4. To be more teachable.
5. To be more giving.
6. To be part of something bigger than myself.
7. To get to know my neighbors intimately-- more than just a wave and nod.
8. To change my neighborhood for Christ.
9. To cooperate with like minded Christ Followers.
10. To be a catalyst for change.
11. Question the way things are done (with respect).
12. Push others to become stronger Christians.
13. To grow more in my faith, family and as a person.
14. Start a spiritual revolution in Charlotte.
15. That Alabama will go undefeated and win the National Championship!