Run, Preacher, Run!

Here we have three pastors who have just finished a 5k (3.1 miles).  We all gathered on this hot May day to raise money to send some folks to do missions in Honduras.  I’m just glad to see some preachers running for something other than the last piece of chicken.  Refreshing ain’t it?

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Here I am about to cross the finish line.  I finished in 27:40.

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Here I am sporting my well earned bling bling!  (2nd place medal in the 30-39 men’s division).

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Published in: on May 30, 2009 at 10:44 pm  Comments (1)  

Check out this church plant in Thomasville N.C.

My friend Kenny Coker is the pastor of New Heart Baptist Church (a church plant) in Thomasville N.C.

Check out what is going on here.

Published in: on May 27, 2009 at 5:32 pm  Comments Off on Check out this church plant in Thomasville N.C.  

Rural Route Heroe’s Part VIII

This guy is today’s Rural Route Hero!

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Okay, this picture is a little better.

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That guy is more than a Vacation Bible School Singing Cowboy.  He is a Rural Route Hero.

What kind of music do you like?  Take a poll of the people in your house.  What kind of music do they all like?  Now go ask 100 people what kind of music they all like.  Now go prepare five songs that everyone can sing together, one choral arrangement that everyone will agree was fantastic, and one solo that no one thought was “over the top”, “too loud”, “too soft”, “too slow”, “too fast”, “too Rock”, “too Country”, “too old-fashioned”, or (God forbid) “too contemporary”.  If you can do that then you can be the music minister.  Oh, yeah. . . I almost forgot about the sound.  As the music minister it is also your job to make sure that the sound system functions properly and that the instrumentalists are all playing from the same sheet of music.  Stacy does this Sunday after Sunday after Sunday.

The music minister puts up with  a lot of opinions.  Everyone has an opinion about music.  The problem is that everyone thinks their opinion is the right opinion about music.  Don’t even get me started on the goofy people that think Fannie Crosby, Bill Gaither, and a few anointed Elvis songs are the only songs God likes. It is an unfortunate truth that many people come to church to be entertained by the music and preaching style that they like.  If the music you choose on a given Sunday doesn’t tickle them where they itch, then you might be in trouble.

Everyone at church wants the music to be good, but no one has the desire to practice.  Everyone likes a perfectly run worship service but very few like to strive for perfection in the area of musical worship. I am so glad that our music minister is a perfectionist.  I’m glad that he strives for perfection in every song and in every service.  I think God deserves our best.  Pastors should strive for perfection in their preaching and teaching.  In the same way, musicians should strive for perfection in their craft.  Choir members should strive for perfection as they sing.  Soloists should shoot for perfection when they sing.  WHY?  BECAUSE WE ARE SINGING FOR GOD!!!!!!!!

I’m not saying it will be perfect, but for the glory of God, shoot for the stars and settle for the moon.

It is ridiculous to me to think that the only place in the world that we seem to settle for mediocrity is in the church.  We demand the best from athletes.  We demand the best from our kids when it comes to their academics.  We tell them to strive for perfection knowing they will only give their best when they aim high.  Why should God’s people give Him less in worship?

Stacy Williams is a Rural Route Hero because he understands that if we sing, we are singing to the Lord.  He understands that if we play the piano we are playing for the Lord.  He understands that, whether we sing choruses, hymns, a Southern Gospel favorite, or the latest contemporary song that we are doing so because we want to glorify God (PLEASE SEE I Cor 10:31).   Stacy is a Rural Route Hero because he has the unique ability to deal with everyone’s opinions.  I can not commend Stacy without also thanking our choir for understanding that we are singing to God.  They put in the work to bring God their best every Sunday and I commend them for it.

Now. . . . go bring a well rehearsed joyful noise into worship this Sunday!

Published in: on May 26, 2009 at 2:36 am  Comments (2)  

Rural Enhanced Interrogation Techniques

Tell us what we need to know or we will. . . .

1.  Make you milk the cow. His name is Killer.  Killer likes very cold hands.

2.  Make you pick cotton by hand. (50 acres should do it).  You have until sundown.  I’d get started.

3.  Make you plow 1 acre with this pocket knife. Break that knife and I’ll make you milk Killer again.

4.  Give you a bite of Mrs. Wheatly’s chocolate coconut balls and then make you watch me eat the rest of them. You can have another bite if you just tell us what we need to know.

5.  Make you listen to my rendition of every John Denver song ever written. Two or three times through “Country Boy” ought to loosen your lips up.

6.  Make you ride Jack.  Jack has been ridden exactly 0 times. We are fairly sure that Jack is the only horse in the world that has been diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic.  He has issues.  Hey, if you even make it up on Jack’s back I’ll give you a chocolate coconut ball.

7. Make you dig our new well. Now, where is that pocket knife I gave you?  I’m kidding. . . here’s a spoon.

8.  Make you participate in our annual “Car Crash Derby”. Here is the key to my old motorcycle.  Have fun!

9.  Make you go Snipe Hunting. Don’t come back without a snipe or we will make you plow another acre.

10. Put a table outside your cell filled with fried Chicken,  green beans, sweet corn, mashed Potatoes, sweet tea and Pecan Pie! Here is a pen and paper.  I need the names and addresses of 5 of your buddies.  When you start writing you can start eating.

Published in: on May 22, 2009 at 3:03 am  Comments Off on Rural Enhanced Interrogation Techniques  

We Need Revival In Rural Churches

Have you ever thought about the fact that admitting your need for revival is also admitting your need to repent.  The very fact that we need revival tells us that there is sin in our lives or that some spiritual element is lacking in our lives.  Revival is always predicated by death.  Only the dead need revived.   The only way to be revived is to repent of the rot in our lives brought on by sin.  Spiritual vitality and life can only be obtained through repentance.

I am afraid that too many of us are calling for “revival” without calling our churches to repentance.  We want the hype and height found when we are revived without the godly sorrow that leads to repentance.  Here are some things I have identified in my life, my church, and other churches that indicates our need to repent and be revived.

1.  We don’t think we have any problems.

2.  We apply Scripture at our leisure.

3.  We only act urgently when the “right” people need us.

4.  We spurn anything that resembles technology b/c it might change something we hold dear.

5.  We are satisfied being satisfied.

6.  Our graciousness is conditioned by our suspicion.

7.  We are deeply rooted in spiritual jargon but fail to live spiritually.

8.  We patronize the lost with programs rather than proselytize them with the Gospel.

9.  Our fellowship ends when accountability begins.

10. Our corporate worship is ruled more by a clock and our opinions than by God.

11. Our missional efforts only include a pen and a checkbook.

12.  We think someone ought to be busy doing evangelism.

13.  We operate our churches rather than facilitate the leadership of the Holy Spirit.

14.  We crave our independence and individuality to the neglect of our dependence on God.

15.  We confess that we are evangelical but we live like we are universalists.

16.  Our budgets reflect our belief in a semi-present and semi-powerful god rather than THE Omnipresent and Omnipowerful God.

17.  If the heating and air-conditioning were absent from our worship services. . . we would also be absent.

18.  Our circumstances often dictate how obedient we are to God.

19.  Our tongues boast more spirituality than our feet and hands ever seem to deliver.

20.  We will conform to the image and character of God as long as He looks and acts like us.

Published in: on May 21, 2009 at 3:20 am  Comments (1)  

We call them bi-vocational / Rural Route Heroes Part VII

We call them bi-vocational but I don’t think that term begins to cover the emotional, spiritual, and physical dimensions of their pastorate.  Bi-vocational pastors are not part time ministers.  Bi-vocational pastors do not cut their ministerial investment in half in order to accomplish the call God has placed on their lives.

They are every bit as much called as a “full time” guy.  They are just not compensated in a way that allows them the freedom that full time pastors take for granted.  They are amazing men who take on the challenge of pastoring churches many of us could not pastor.  They have the God given ability to multi-task on a level that most of us will never understand.  They get two (sometimes 3) jobs done in the time some of us do one.  They are responsible for pastoring a HUGE segment of our churches and they are Rural Route Heroes!

Published in: on May 20, 2009 at 1:06 am  Comments Off on We call them bi-vocational / Rural Route Heroes Part VII  

Diverted

There was a time in my life when I honestly believed God was going to allow me to be a Christian Rock artist.  It was fun recording and singing for folks but it was ultimately unfruitful and EXTREMELY unprofitable.  Have you all ever been diverted from God’s call on your life to do something a little goofy?  Nothing terrible but something that kept you from what God really intended for your life. . . how bout it.   Come on. . . fess up!

I was reminded of my short career as a musical genius when I came across this on Ebay.

Published in: on May 18, 2009 at 12:41 pm  Comments (9)  

Great Commission Resurgence and the Local Rural Church

If you are a Southern Baptist you should go here and read the document that underlies a strong movement within the S.B.C called the Great Commission Resurgence.  At it’s core this movement is about moving Southern Baptists to be singular in it’s purpose of sharing the Gospel.  I am all in on this point.  As of this writing 2226 people have placed their signature on the document.  It has widespread endorsement.

One of the ways that the GCR seeks to streamline our commitment to the Great Commission is by rethinking our current structure.  Admittedly we have waste at all levels of our current structure.  The waste is never intentional and it is not malicious but is waste none the less.  We waste resources in duplication of services.  In many instaces the local association is doing what the State Convention is doing and the state convention is doing what the mission boards were designed to do. . . thus the need to “restructure”.

Please take a moment and read what the G.C.R. has to say about Convention Structure

IX. A Commitment to a More Effective Convention Structure. We call upon all Southern Baptists to rethink our Convention structure and priorities so that we can maximize our energy and resources for the health of our local churches and the fulfilling of the Great Commission. (1 Cor. 10:31)

At the midpoint of the 20th century the Southern Baptist Convention was a denomination characterized by impressive institutions, innovative programs, and strong loyalty from the churches. But the denomination has too often failed to adapt its structure and programs to the changing culture. We are frequently aiming at a culture that went out of existence years ago, failing to understand how mid-20th century methods and strategies are not working in the 21st century.

Some  of our denominational structures at all levels need to be streamlined for  more  faithful  stewardship  of  the funds entrusted to them. We must address  with  courage and action where there is overlap and duplication of ministries,  and  where  poor  stewardship  is present. We are grateful for God’s  gift  of  Cooperative  Program  dollars  to  both state and national entities.  Both  state and national entities must be wise stewards of these funds, and closely examine whether the allocation of Cooperative Program dollars genuinely contributes to Kingdom work or simply maintains the status quo. We are grateful for those churches and state conventions that are seeking to move more  Cooperative  Program  dollars  beyond  their  respective selves, and encourage this movement to continue and increase in the days ahead.

We must take steps toward simplifying our denominational structures in an effort to streamline our structure, clarify our institutional identity, and maximize our resources for Great Commission priorities. We should ask hard questions about every aspect of our Convention structure and priorities and pray for God’s wisdom and blessing as we pursue wise answers to those questions. We must be willing to make needed changes for the good of our churches and the spread of the gospel. We believe that North American church planting, pioneer missions around the globe, and theological education that starts in the seminaries but finds its way to our local churches are three priorities around which Southern Baptists will unite. Our denomination must be restructured at every level to facilitate a more effective pursuit of these priorities.

Question:

What part of our convention structure positively impacts your local rural church the most.  What part of our convention strucure helps your local church fulfull the Great Commission?  Is it the state convention, the local association, or the entities of the S.B.C?  If you had to “streamline” the convention structure. . . how would you do it?  Be polite and constructive in your comments please. I will tell you my opinion later.

Published in: on May 15, 2009 at 12:12 pm  Comments (5)  

Third Day. . . for your Monday

Published in: on May 11, 2009 at 1:19 pm  Comments Off on Third Day. . . for your Monday  

Nothing Says Happy Mother’s Day Like. . . .

1.  Nascar Tickets.

2.  Fishing tackle for the entire family.

3.  An autographed copy of Willie Nelson’s classic “Mama Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys”.

4.  Getting the kids to make mommy a card that says “Thanks for marrying Daddy!”

5.  A “Cooking for Dummies” cookbook.

6.  Flowers from your neighbor’s rose bush.

7.  Splurging for dinner at Long John Silvers.

8.  A brand new mop.

9.  Ammunition.

10.  giving her Joel Osteen’s book “Become a Better You”.

Published in: on May 10, 2009 at 4:38 am  Comments (5)