Day two of the New Orleans adventure. It began with a brisk 6am walk in 42 degree weather. I had to get my exercise in early, because I knew once this day began I would not be able. The walk was great. I smelled the coffee from the roasting facility on the Industrial Canal beside the seminary, and it smelled great. I walked the same roads I used to walk when I exercised here and when I walked to and from class years ago. The sidewalks are new, but the place is much the same. It was an emotional time for me.
Construction forced me to walk across the old tennis courts and to my old street. On the tennis courts, I remembered the times when Daniel Herringa and I would go out there and “play” tennis. I put that in quotes because we would go out there, hit the ball, and laugh at each other for a couple of hours. Out loud, I slipped and said “Daniel was sooo retarded.” Sorry, Dan. You are STILL my favorite preacher. We would watch some of our professors playing serious hardball, as if they were preparing for Pete Sampras. We thought they were a bunch of old men . . . (Now I find myself to BE their age). We would watch Garry Harper play with them and beat them all. Harper never would play with us, but he DID laugh at us.
Then I walked up Iroquois Street. We lived in a States Apartment building at 4433 Iroquois. There was a States Apartment for every US State that has a Baptist Convention. We lived in the Texas apartment building. Those have been demolished now, and there are no States buildings anymore. I noticed all kinds of names on the new buildings, but no states. Then I saw it . . . a HUGE 4433 on the front of the building. I was encouraged. Then I looked a little closer and saw the name of that building: TEXAS. I don’t know why that building got its old states name, and I don’t care. it brought a lump into my throat and a tear to my eye.
Since then, I have been in the Student Center waiting for my meeting that begins soon. I have seen a lot of old friends, and even made a couple of new ones. If I had to leave right now, I already know what God was doing when He sent me here. I thought I was drafted into this SC NOBTS because it was my turn. As it turns out, God KNEW with all I have been facing lately, I NEEDED THIS. I knew that this morning as I walked.
God knew it in November when He made this happen.
Okay, today was a full day. I had to begin to work on a sermon while preparing everything else for my trip to New Orleans (my guest for Sunday canceled on me YESTERDAY) . To no avail . . . It will get done somehow. We did staff meeting, put out only 15 fires, developed and administered a test to the CLC class, ran home, got packed, got a call from Krissy that she needed tennis shoes for softball practice (as we were LEAVING for Florence International Airport), took the shoes to find out they were NOT going into the gym, but on the field, so she did not need them, sprinted to the airport, got through security, and things slowed to a halt. We finally boarded the plane and flew to Charlotte.
In Charlotte, I grabbed some supper during my two hour layover. We boarded the plane for New Orleans and it was slam-packed. The stewardesses did do drink service, but were only REALLY interested in helping the two single guys behind me (who seemed to get dates with the stewardesses after I think the stewardesses bought them each a beer). It was kind of annoying, and the worst professionalism I have ever seen in all of my years flying USless (er, I mean US Air). I got to New Orleans, was picked up at the airport and brought to the Seminary. It is now 11:12 pm eastern time, and I have been awake since 4:30 AM eastern time. I probably should not be drinking this Dr Pepper.
I am excited to be here, to see old friends, to see what God is doing at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and to see how I can help. I also have a couple of potential meetings with Childhood Education majors due to graduate this spring. (We ARE looking for a minister to children)
Hopefully this will be a great week. I will keep you posted!
God’s word constantly teaches us that if we are part of His church, we will be family. That would stand NOT ONLY for Ebenezer, but for any Protestant church, any church that recognizes Jesus as the ONLY Way of salvation. With that said, are we (the Christian church in Florence) family?? Are we Southern Baptist churches family??
Certainly family starts within each church. And we have a long way to go on that one. But, looking outward for a moment, there really is too much rivalry between some churches. Not all, mind you, but some. Some that will make “comments” about other churches in a pathetic attempt to lure members away OR to secure prospects who are considering more than one church. I can tell you I have never gone into house on a visit and said something disrespectful about another church. We are not immune to being a target of this: The dope on Ebenezer is a pastor that uses weak, purchased outlines and is a mediocre preacher leaning on a PowerPoint presentation. Well, to that I can assure you that I have never bought an outline. (If I did, they would be much more clever) I won’t argue the mediocre part, but I do write my own. And too many times my heart jumps into the mix and I stray too much from the PowerPoint.
How do we deal with such statements? By staying above them. By loving our brothers, even if they are saying terrible things about us. And by making sure we do not stoop to such antics EVER. All we can do is do our best to BE FAMILY to those around us. If we will all worry about FOLLOWING GOD, He will bring this all to where it needs to be.
Well, this is it. The last Sunday of a month of combined worship in the Family Life Center. There are things about the Sanctuary I miss, like better acoustics and more of a feeling of closeness. And there are things I love about FLC worship, like doing it all TOGETHER! And only doing it ONCE a Sunday. It is difficult to describe how that makes a difference, but it does.
Another benefit of getting back into the Sanctuary is that our weekly offerings will go up. Statistically, our offerings ALWAYS go down while we are in the FLC. A couple of years ago, someone told me they would not tithe while we were in the gym. WHY?? Because we ought to be worshipping in the CHURCH. Well, WE are the church, and wherever we are we should worship. That FLC IS a holy place BECAUSE it is where we have gathered to worship. I have always thought it strange that people will refuse to tithe because of something like this, knowing that it is direct disobedience to God. They are only hurting themselves with their sin. Yes, it is a SIN NOT to tithe. Look it up!
Anyway, I will enjoy this day and my hope and prayer is that it is a day that honors God. Hope to see YOU at the FLC!
I really do love to visit the city. Of course, it has a whole new meaning now that Katrina has permanently etched her name into the history of the Big Easy. But that is not the reason for this visit.
Back in November, I was elected (drafted) to be the president of the SC NOBTS Alumni Chapter. I get to fly down next week to a national alumni meeting. I am looking forward to seeing the progress at the seminary and the city, but am unsure as to whether or not I should borrow a bullet-proof vest from the Florence County Sheriffs Dept. (Murders are WAY off the scale right now in N.O.)
On the other side of the office hall, Justin is leaving TOMORROW for Moscow. He is going with a mission team his cousin organized to distribute Bibles, to witness, and to worship with Christians in Moscow. PLEASE PRAY FOR HIS SAFETY!!!! We could not find another Justin and I failed to get a DNA sample with which to clone him.
PS – Clemson got HOSED last night by the refs. According to what we saw on the cable box last night (which allows us to rewind, watch in slow motion, etc), the refs put WAY too much time back on the clock at the end. SportsCenter also says there should have been 2.4 seconds instead of the 4.4 they put on, but that is life at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
What emotions do you find around a church in the average week? Hope, joy, happiness, hurt, anger, disappointment, just to name a few. It is quite an emotional rollercoaster, especially when all of this is happening to people you love.
One of my personal difficulties is dealing with the death of a friend. It is hard to deal with death when friends are involved. A pastor cannot deal with death in in the same clinical nature of a doctor. I guess a doctor HAS to insulate himself somewhat to make it everyday. No, a pastor has to empathize with his flock. You literally have to feel the pain with them in order to help them (at least, that has been my experience). And that takes a toll.
And then, dealing with anger and hurt takes a toll. Dealing with marriages in jeopardy takes a toll. Dealing with broken relationships takes a toll.
And, just when you think the emotional bank is empty, God sends some joy in there and you remember what it is all about. I thank God for those boosts. I thirst for them at times.
And all of that is a NORMAL week . . .
I love a GOOD commercial, and I love Volkswagens, so check this link out:
The funny ones are on the third row:
Check them out!!
I like my dentist . . . No offense intended by what I am about to write. But, being a movie buff, I always think about Steve Martin in “Little Shop of Horrors” and some of those evil-looking dental instruments he had. I SAW one of those yesterday.
We had three cavities to address yesterday. Two of them were minor . . . No big deal. On one of them, however, involved a jack hammer and noises I have NEVER heard come out of my mouth. Now, don’t get me wrong . . . I AGAIN say that I like my dentist. She did a good job of numbing me up, and told me to let her know if there was ANY discomfort. There was none, other than the psychological discomfort of HEARING that noise.
When I left her office, I had to HOLD the right side of my face up to keep it from dragging the ground. This morning . . . A little sore, but knowing that things are getting better. And that is a good thing.
But I will never forget that jack hammer, or the device that I KNOW I saw in Little Shop of Horrors.
Yes, the Proverb is true . . . Without vision, people perish. One of the hardest jobs as pastor has is communicating vision. I’ve spent hours reading about it, praying about it, and attempting to do it from the pulpit. I believe the appropriate vision for Ebenezer can only come from God and His word. I believe He clearly calls us to love Him, love each other, serve Him, and to GROW individually in a relationship with Him. There it is . . . simple and complete.
And, yet, there are some who refuse to hear that . . . I guess they expect blueprints and bold plans (not necessarily for a new building, but for THEIR LIVES). In Jeremiah 29:11, God promises that HE has plans for each one of us. If He gives your plans to me, I promise that you will be the first one I call. My personal experience with God is if we are in that growing relationship with Him, He WILL lead us and show us His plans. Will there be times when God calls on me, as a pastor, to set strategy and direction for the church?? Yes, and He will provide that FOR me. But none of that will mean anything to the masses if we are not each tuning in to Him and His desire for each one of us PERSONALLY.
In other words, every one of us needs to work in our personal relationships with Him. He WILL ignite us with His vision for Ebenezer, and for the Body of Christ in general. And we will not miss it!!!
If you have ever wondered about what I believe God’s vision is for Ebenezer, hit this link and check it out!!!