And More Questions for the Presidential Candidates

1.  When you walk into Wal-Mart, do you acknowledge the greeter or do you pretend to be having an intense conversation on your cell phone in order to avoid the poor retiree who is having to work at Wal-Mart as a greeter b/c social security just ain’t enough?

2.  If you have children with you, do you proudly wear the smiley face sticker the greeter just handed your kid (grandkid) or are you too much of an adult for that?

3.  After getting past the greeter, do you have a pre-determined shopping game plan or do you just wander around the store?

4.  Have you planned your trip to Wal-Mart in such a way that you could take advantage of the free lunch provided by the ladies giving free samples of all the new products?

5.  Did you remember the five Wal-Mart gift cards you you recieved at Christmas, or did you forget them . . . again?

6.  Do you test drive your cart before you take it to make sure that you don’t get the one with the wobbley wheel? 

7.  When you park your car, do you circle the parking lot 10 times waiting for that front row spot or do you just admit defeat quickly and walk from another zip code?   

8.  Do you ever open your chips, Pop-Tarts, or cookies before paying for them so you will have something to snack on while you shop? 

9.  Are you one of those people who actually have the gall to hold up the check-out line while you demand that Wal-Mart hold up their promise to not be undersold?  

10.  On your way out of the store, do you secretly worry that the “Inventory Managment” device will go off (by mistake of course) and that you will get frisked by the greeter? 

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Published in: on April 30, 2008 at 4:06 am  Comments Off on And More Questions for the Presidential Candidates  

An interesting article

What do you think?

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120909500298144313.html

 

 

Published in: on April 29, 2008 at 1:33 pm  Comments (2)  

Therapy

 The fish were biting, the sun was shining, and I had a bucket full of worms.  Y’all have a good day!  I’ll post something a lot more spiritual tomorrow.  

 

Published in: on April 28, 2008 at 2:13 pm  Comments (8)  

Helen: Another Rural Church Story

If Helen were a country song, she would be “Rhinestone Cowboy”. . . . or cowgirl in this case. Helen is where the country meets the city. She is a high-powered insurance executive and the ultimate country girl all rolled up into one. She and her husband, Larry, could choose to live in the city, but they prefer a rural route. They represent a prime example of what is happening more and more in rural America. Because of the willingness of companies to work with employee schedules, and because communication technology allows employees to be in touch from just about any location, people are moving to the country.

Helen’s office is 2 1/2 hours from her home. She usually leaves on a Monday, stays in an apartment that her company provides, and then comes home later in the week. Why would Helen and others like her choose this way of life? One word. . . .COMMUNITY. We have a community post office, a community store (The Mill), a community Farmer’s Cooperative, a community bank, and three community churches. People find a sense of belonging here that they cannot find anywhere else. They like living in a place where everybody knows their name. Helen is a rural church story, and our community is the happy beneficiary of her desire to live on a rural route.

Published in: on April 24, 2008 at 8:15 pm  Comments Off on Helen: Another Rural Church Story  

Helen: Guilty Woman or Rural Church Story?

This woman is Guilty!  She has been known to teach young children the fine art of shooting spit wads through straws.  She is also guilty of feeding them insane amounts of caffeine and sugar only to send the rugrats home all juiced up!  Her rural church story is coming soon!

Published in: on April 21, 2008 at 2:50 am  Comments (4)  

Pick a Reason!

Spring has sprung here in West TN.  The flowers are blooming and the trees are budding.  It is quite beautiful.  People are out planting flowers and working in their flower beds.  The sound of lawn mowers in the distance precede the smell of fresh cut grass.  Birds are singing, and it is a “Zip-a-de-do-da-Day!”  Spring has overtaken and overrun Cottage Grove! 

The kid behind the rubber snake is my oldest kiddo.  He measures the changing of seasons, not by the budding of trees and pretty flowers, but by the day he catches his first critter.  About a week ago, he came running up to me with his hands behind his back (always a bad sign) exclaiming, “Spring is here!”  He then proudly showed me the two Ring Snakes he had caught fresh from their winter nap.  He was extremely excited about the dawning of Spring because it meant that all of his slithery little friends were coming back.  Take a trip over to www.calebswildlife.blogspot.com to see the slithery little buddies my son brings home. 

I was excited about spring because it meant warmth and beauty.  Caleb was excited because of the wildlife that he would see and catch.  We were both excited about the same thing, but for different reasons.  His reason for loving spring was just as valid as mine. . . just different.  Churches are often like that.  Let’s take Sunday School for example (for all you contemporary folks, Sunday School is what we used to call Small Groups).  I have people who come to Sunday School strictly because they love being taught the Word of God.  I have other people who, because they are alone during the week, come for the fellowship that is shared during that hour.  Both are excited, but they are motivated by different aspects of Sunday School. 

I wonder how many times we squash other people’s enthusiasm about church because we demand that they be excited by the same things we are motivated by.  There is so much to love about Jesus and his church.  There are a multitude of reasons to love coming to church (especially a rural church).  Pick a reason. . . I’ll be excited with you.               

Published in: on April 16, 2008 at 2:18 pm  Comments (2)  

Cris is a Rural Church Story and a Redneck Missionary

This is Cris.  Pretty aint he?  Cris is an diesel mechanic by trade.  On a regualar basis he keeps a huge fleet of trucks running and on the road for one of the largest employers here in our part of the world.  He is a self-professed redneck who loves his Harley, his guns, his wife Donna and his truck . . . not necessarily in that order.  More than anything though, Cris loves the Lord.  His love for Christ drives everything he does.  Cris sings in our church choir (bass section) and he teaches our youth Sunday school class.  Cris is a rural church story because he was saved, discipled, and has served our church faithfull for many years.  Of all the accomplishments I could list about Cris, one stands out above the rest.  Once a year Cris dons his mechanic hat and becomes a hero to two missionaries and a church full of deaf people in Puerto Rico.

David and Marsha Mitchell founded and run the Puerto Rican Deaf Ministry.  They have been there for more than 20 years serving faithfully.  Cottage Grove Baptist Church has supported them over the years in various ways, but no one has caught a vision for our involvement there more than Cris.  Cris visited there serveral years back and saw the vast need among the deaf there.  Puerto Rican deaf are basically outcast.  They don’t have widespread access to an education, jobs, or even something as menial as driving.  Because the deaf don’t drive, the Mitchells must go to them.  This means that they must keep and maintain a small fleet of cars and vans.  Enter Cris.

Once a year Cris transforms himself from paid mechanic into volunteer missionary mechenic.  He gathers enough money and supplies to work on the Mitchell’s entire fleet.  In one week Cris and one other mechanic do a years worth of maintenance for a fleet of vehicals.  They then pray that these cars and vans survive the brutal road conditions found in Puerto Rico for one more year.  Cris always comes back home amazed at how God used him and how God made the monetary resources stretch just far enough to do the job.  What Cris does once a year challenges me and the rest of our church to dig a litter deeper for Christ.  Cris is our redneck missionary.  Cris is a rural church story.       

 

 

Published in: on April 14, 2008 at 11:50 am  Comments Off on Cris is a Rural Church Story and a Redneck Missionary  

A World Without The Rural Church

I just got back from Brentwood where I met with 9 other guys to discuss the health of the rural church.  What a fantastic start to what I pray will be a long lasting movement of God in our rural churches.  As we met I couldn’t help but think what the world would be like without the rural church.  Sad thoughts.

1.  Without the rural church there would be 50% fewer churches.

2.  Without the rural church there would be no more homecomings.

3.  There would be far fewer pastors who knew your first name. 

4.  Without the rural church there would be a lot less salt and light in the world. 

5.  Without the rural church there would be no place for entire communites to worship corporately.

6.  Without the rural church there would be a huge deficit in evangelism.

7.  Can you imagine a drive through the country without all of those steeples pointing toward heaven?

8.  Without the rural church there would be fewer mega churches b/c many of those pastors came from rural churches. 

9.  Missionary work all over the globe would suffer for lack of funds.

10.  Without the rural church we wouldn’t know the definition of “potluck”.   

Published in: on April 12, 2008 at 6:08 pm  Comments (2)  

Rural Church Affinity Team

Tomorrow I am taking a trip to our State Convention office to meet with 8 other people to discuss the Rural Church. This journey began about 2 years ago when I realized that many rural churches were struggling. I learned that many were frustrated because they were laboring under “big church” programs that promised numerical growth that never materialized. Some were frustrated financially while others were frustrated from a lack of consistent pastoral leadership. I began an ongoing conversation with our State Convention leadership that led to a series of meetings. Those meetings have led to a new Rural Church Affinity Team that will meet for the first time tomorrow. It is my desire that this team would result in more HEALTHY rural churches. Churches that are on task to the glory of God. I can not be more thankful that we have come to this place in the process. I could not be more prayerful that this meeting would be a catalyst to accomplish great things in the rural church. I would especially like to thank Dr. James Porch and Steve Holt for their support and unbelievable help in getting this ball rolling. I would simply ask you to pray with me as we meet tomorrow.

Published in: on April 9, 2008 at 3:37 pm  Comments (2)  

A Little History Please Part II

Thanks to Sue, I was able to see Cottage Grove through the lens of one who had seen our church minister through good and bad times. Her family had seen the ups and the downs of our community and church. She was able to show me picture albums full of what our town used to be. She was able to provide me with a historical foundation from which I could launch a hopeful ministry.

When a pastor ignores the history of the place God has called him, he automatically alienates himself from the one thing that all the people have in common. . . a shared past. Pastors often say that they just can’t connect with the flock. They will generally blame the people for this inability to connect. More often than not, though, I have found that it is the pastor’s unwillingness to see where his people are coming from that causes the most misunderstandings. After discovering Cottage Grove’s rich history, I now understand my congregation better. After looking through Sue’s photo albums I can at least picture what people are talking about when they take me for a walk down memory lane. Pastors should do a little homework. Take time to read some of the church minutes. I am blessed at Cottage Grove to have the original minutes dating back to the 1800’s. Pastors should understand that those softball, parade, and volleyball trophies that are collecting dust in some obscure closet in the church all have a story to tell. The plaques that hang in the church vestibule all have meaning and a story. Every brick and all of the carpentry work in our sanctuary tell a story of prayer and sacrifice as our church rebuilt after a devastating fire. Take a little time to connect to your people’s history. You will understand them better. You will understand your context better. You will be a better pastor for it.

Thanks Sue!

Published in: on April 6, 2008 at 12:23 am  Comments Off on A Little History Please Part II