Red-handed

Dad, look what I did!  Food Coloring is AWESOME!006Red hands need a complimentary red mouth.

010Uh oh!  I don’t think mom and dad think red hands, mouth, and counter tops are nearly as great as I do.

008I think I might have over estimated the awesomeness of liberal food coloring usage.

005Does “I’m sorry” cover it?

Published in: on January 29, 2009 at 4:40 am  Comments (3)  

Steve Holt /Small Rural Churches

Steve is a ministry specialist at the Tennessee Baptist Convention. 

God Loves Small Churches

Someone has said that God must love small churches because He made so many of them.  While some may argue against that kind of logic, there is no doubt about the fact that most churches are small churches.  Our Tennessee Baptist Convention is primarily composed of small churches.  Approximately 2200 of our 3000 TBC Churches have less than 100 people in Sunday School on Sunday morning and most of those churches are rural churches.  Each one of those churches matter to our Heavenly Father and all of them have the potential to make an impact on their community and the world for Christ.  Our tendency toward “bigger being better” has led some to feel that small churches can’t minister to the needs of their church members as effectively as a larger church can.  But in reality most rural churches are very effective in creating a sense of community and a healthy environment where both young and old can be nurtured in their faith.

Rural Churches Model Christ’s Love

One of the things I appreciate about the rural churches with which I am familiar is the way they care for their members.  Whenever there is a death or sickness, the whole church mobilizes for action.  In my first pastorate I knew that when there was a death in the church the hurting family would experience love and caring from their entire church family.  Food would arrive in abundance and most all the congregation would be at the funeral home to show their love and support.  The message the church expressed so beautifully to those who were grieving was, “You are family and when you hurt, we are here for you.”  What a ministry!

That same spirit impacted our outreach efforts as well.  While we prayed for all the “lost,” we also had specific names and faces we were lifting up to God.  Those faces were the husbands, children, parents, relatives, neighbors, and friends of our church family.  We knew them personally and rejoiced every time they came to church for some special event or program.  We visited with them in their homes, invited them to church and shared our faith with them.  We wept with their loved ones over their lostness and rejoiced with them when they were saved. In that respect the evangelistic efforts of a rural church can truly represent “personal” evangelism.

The impact of rural churches on Baptist life in Tennessee is immeasurable.  From the time of the pioneers, Baptists have made their presence known all across our great state through the ministry of congregations who, though small in number, allowed their passion for Christ to lead them beyond their limitations toward God’s preferable future of harvest and Kingdom Advance.

Published in: on January 25, 2009 at 2:47 pm  Comments (4)  

Payton

Okay,  here are the pics I promised.  Kevin Bomar and I got to spend Tuesday night and Wed. morning with Payton and Stacy.  I am overwhelmed by the Progress Payton has made.  Miraculous is a good description of what has occurred in Payton’s life.   Three months ago Payton couldn’t speak or move.  The only way he could communicate was by blinking his eyes once for “yes” and twice for “no”.   Today he is speaking, has the use his right arm,  and has promising movement on his right side.   His comeback is a great story but Payton and Stacy’s faith is the real story.   They KNOW that God has a purpose in every painful step that Payton has taken.  I watched as Stacy encouraged other patients.  I watched as Payton, unapologetically, acknowledged God as his strength.  They are not waiting for perfect circumstances to be obedient to God.  They KNOW, by faith, that their circumstance has given them a platform to speak God’s name boldly.   I was impressed by Payton’s physical progress but I was encouraged by his faith. 

Payton can type better than me with one finger!  payton-270

Here is a promo for the next America’s Most Wantedpayton-274

This is Payton, Stacy, and Occupational Therapist.  payton-275

This is Payton with his Speech Therapist.   Payton has become very proficient at pronouncing EVERY syllable.    payton-278

Payton stayed on this treadmill for 35 minutes and was able to put 85% of his own weight on his legs as his physical therapists assisted him.  Just after this photo was taken Payton stood by himself for 10 seconds.  payton-286

Published in: on January 22, 2009 at 4:17 pm  Comments (3)  

Atlanta

I am going to Atlanta tomorrow to visit with Payton and Stacy Bullock.  You may remember that Payton (31) had a stroke back in September.  Since that time his recovery has been miraculous.  He was not supposed to live but he kept defying the statistics.  He was not supposed to talk or have any hope of moving but two months ago he called into one of our church services (via speaker phone) to thank our church for their prayers.   He is making great strides toward becoming mobile again and so we stand in amazement at what God has done.  Many of you prayed and God has worked in a mighty way.  Thank you for your prayers.  I will post again when I return and hopefully have some pictures to share with you.

Published in: on January 19, 2009 at 1:53 pm  Comments Off on Atlanta  

Blessings

Psalm 127:3-5 (ESV) 3 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.  4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children [1] of one’s youth. 5 Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

If you believe that children are blessings (gifts) from God you will understand that the womb is a sacred place.  Children only become abortion statistics when we believe that they are curses.  This is not above your pay-grade, or outside your understanding, unless you want it to be.  1.2 million children, many from rural places,  will be aborted this year b/c the truth of Psalm 127 is “above our pay-grade”.


Published in: on January 18, 2009 at 1:43 pm  Comments (1)  

Do You Know How Debt Affects Your Congregation?

I have said before that debt and materialism are killing the rural church and her ability to carry out effective ministry.  This article may give us some insight:  http://www.tnbaptist.org/BRARticle.asp?ID=2778

Les Puryear also wrote about this problem at:   http://lesliepuryear.blogspot.com/2009/01/financial-considerations-in-small.html 

What do you guys think?

Published in: on January 15, 2009 at 6:36 pm  Comments Off on Do You Know How Debt Affects Your Congregation?  

Rural Churches on the Edge of Suburbia and the “C” Word.

CHANGE!  Church and change are like oil and water.  Rural church change could be the most difficult thing to pull off in the universe.  There are many rural churches that find themselves in a new environment due to suburban sprawl.  How do they accomodate growth and hold on to their heritage. . . or is that even possible.   Here is a 2006 example of a church that faced just such a problem:  http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/25/us/25church.html?ex=1324702800&en=3b51c2c9f5be908e&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

Published in: on January 14, 2009 at 2:30 pm  Comments (15)  

Growing Up

She is growing up.  Look at those eyes!  Those eyes penetrate into that soft spot that can turn a  father into a daddy.  She is in the process of becoming a mature young woman and that is as it should be.  She is taking on the characteristics that we have taught her.  She is playing by the rules that we have enacted.  She is learning to live in this world a little less dependent on me but more dependant on God.  Every day brings progress in her spiritual maturity and her eventual adulthood.  The father in me applauds her ever increasing independence while the daddy in me wants to push the pause button.  You fathers know what I’m talking about right?        

  080

Published in: on January 12, 2009 at 5:18 am  Comments (2)  

Encouraging words from Jim Elliff

http://www.ccwonline.org/rural.html

Published in: on January 9, 2009 at 2:44 pm  Comments (1)  

15

15 years ago I became us instead of me. I abandoned me, myself, and I for our. I have never regretted January 8, 1994 and I have never looked back.  After 15 years of marriage I still find myself pursuing her love and devotion.  She still has my attention and still turns my head.

Happy 15th Robin!

Published in: on January 8, 2009 at 3:37 am  Comments (4)