Sunday, June 22, 2014

AWSA Nonfiction Book of the Year!!

Congratulations to my beautiful and talented wife who was today awarded The Golden Scroll Award for 2014 Nonfiction Book of the Year!  Tina shares the honor with her long-time friend and coauthor Dena Dyer.  I couldn't be prouder!

Monday, May 26, 2014

El Shaddai

It's been my habit for several years to focus on one of God's names or one of His character traits as a daily spiritual exercise of praise.  Today, I'm taking a look at a name that God reveals to Abraham in Genesis seventeen--El Shaddai.

I have to admit the first thing to pop into my mind when I hear "El Shaddai" is Amy Grant's classic song by that title from the early 80's.  I like the song and I like the song writer--Michael Card.  As a high school student, I frequented a small coffee shop in Knoxville, Tennessee where Michael Card was a frequent artist.  I graduated from high school in '81 and so "El Shaddai" is included in the soundtrack of my life as a staple of those late teenage years.

The meaning of the word, "El Shaddai" is a bit uncertain.  "El" is simple enough to translate. It means "God".  The "Shaddai" part is a little less cut and dry.  Depending on the word origin that you go with--it can either mean destroyer or it can mean sustainer.  That's a pretty big divide between the two options.  To sustain and to destroy are pretty much opposite ideas.  The biblical translators seem to try to split the difference and opt for God Almighty as the preferred translation.

God first reveals himself as El Shaddai in the Bible when He makes a covenant of blessing with Abram, "When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am El-Shaddai—‘God Almighty.’ Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life.  I will make a covenant with you, by which I will guarantee to make you into a mighty nation" (Gen 17:1-2, NLT).  Just a few verses later El Shaddai promises, "I will make you the father of not just one nation, but a multitude of nations!" (v4).  In verse 5, God changes Abram's name from Abram (exalted father) to Abraham (father of many). In verse 6, God promises, "I will give you millions of descendants who will represent many nations."  In this same passage, Sarah's name is also changed and a baby is promised.

I was taught in hermeneutics class in seminary that context is huge when interpreting scripture. That said, the context of Genesis seventeen seems to point to sustainer as the best interpretation of El Shaddai.

One more interesting perspective to add is that acclaimed biblical archaeologist William F. Albright suggested that "Shaddai" comes from shadayim, the Hebrew word for "breasts".  This option gives us a wonderful metaphor of God as provider, caregiver, and nurturer.

Let me invite you to join me in worshipping God as "El Shaddai" today.  How marvelous it is to realize that God is nurturing me and nourishing me even as a mother feeds her baby.  I will thrive today because of God's great and gracious care.

I've included links to a couple of videos that might prove inspirational as you worship today.

For further study:

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Sin of Being Stupid

I'm fond of saying, "God's not mad at you". And the Bible insists that when we're under the blood of Jesus, He isn't mad!

Apparently though, suppressing and denying the truth really ticks God off! ...

Note this verse:

"But God shows His anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who push the truth away from themselves" (Romans 1:18 NLT).
Those who push the truth away are labeled as sinful and wicked and are, as a consequence, the object of God's wrath. To push the truth away--to refuse reality--to embrace ignorance--is to enrage God. Thus, it is a sin to be stupid!

The Bible tells us to "speak the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15) and we spend a lot of time talking about how to do this effectively . . . but maybe it's time we learned how to "hear the truth in love". It's been said, "You can't fix stupid!" Well I've got news for you--Jesus can fix anything--even stupid!

If you're tired of stupid, take a look at James 1:5 and James 1:19-25.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Never Trust a Crowd!

1 Crowd - 2 Outcomes

"But even so, Paul and Barnabas could scarcely restrain the people from sacrificing to them.  Now some Jews arrived from Antioch and Iconium and turned the crowds into a murderous mob. They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, apparently dead" (Acts 14:18-19).

You can't trust the crowd!  When they are cheering, when they are applauding, when they are loving and gracious--you can't trust the crowd!  I'm tempted to trust the crowd. I want their love and I want their praise.  It feels really good to be accepted and honored.  But I know that I can't trust them.

Paul and Barnabas had healed a man who couldn't walk and the observing crowd immediately concluded that Paul and Barnabas were gods worthy of great sacrifice and honor.  Just one verse later, the crowd is trying to kill Paul and Barnabas.  Conclusion? You can't trust the crowd!

Jesus didn't trust the crowd!  In John 2:23-25, the crowd had begun to love Jesus because of the miracles that he was doing.  "But Jesus didn't trust them, because he knew human nature. No one needed to tell him what mankind is really like" (v23-25).  Sure enough, later, we see the crowd giving Jesus a parade in Matthew 21 to begin passion week--only to crucify him by the end of the same week. Never trust a crowd!

Though I'm certainly not Jesus, Paul, or Barnabas, I am quite familiar with the ability of a crowd to quickly turn.  I've tasted the sting of betrayal by friends and coworkers--sheep for whom I've provided care.  Maybe we all have?  Never trust a crowd!

So if we can't trust the crowd, who can we trust? "This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I TRUST HIM" (Psalm 91:2).

Monday, December 09, 2013

Turning 50

December 9, 2013 . . .

Today I turn 50 . . .

For those of you who are older, you can relate to the milestone and with a slight smile on your face you recognizing the brevity of 50 and the future milestones to follow...60...70...

For those who are younger, I doubt that you can appreciate the significance of 50--the number seems very old to me.

So much has happened in these five decades--the movie of my life even now plays out in my mind....childhood events, my teenage years, high school, college, marriage, children, a dozen different jobs...each generality brings vivid remembrances: good, bad, neither and both!

My life at 50 is nothing that I had imagined.  I'm not as successful, not as healthy, and not as stable as I would have liked.  That being said, my life is so much better than I ever thought it could be.

The bride of my youth has now been by my side for some twenty-eight years of marriage.  We are now thriving together in a way that we never experienced in our youth. Tina is my delight!

My two sons are godly, growing, and gifted!  I've held my breath so many times as youthful decisions were lived out--and yet today Jaren and Zachery are so very good!  I am pleased!

My life's work, my ministry, my mission is more clearly lived out, more authentic, and more effective than at any point in my 50 years.  Thanks to all of those who have allowed me to practice on them:
--Youth Choir Tours with FBC, Seymour, Tennessee.
--Baptist Student Union at Union University, Jackson, Tennessee.
--Summer Youth Worker at First Baptist Church, Camden, Tennessee.
--WJAK Radio in Jackson, Tennessee.
--KWAS Radio and Z93 Radio in Amarillo, Texas.
--Teaching Junior High Youth Sunday School at Coulter Road Baptist Church, Amarillo, Texas.
--The honor of pastoring my first church--Cliffside Baptist Church, Amarillo, Texas.
--Youth Ministry at Olsen Park Baptist Church (Now LifeWay Baptist), Amarillo, Texas.
--Youth Ministry at First Baptist Church, Monterey, Tennessee.
--My first full-time pastorate at First Baptist Church, Lipan, Texas.
--Mission trips & Revival Teams through Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas.
--Leadership opportunities through Paluxy Baptist Association, Granbury, Texas.
--10 great years at Cornerstone Baptist Church, Windsor, Colorado.
--Leadership opportunities at Colorado Baptist General Convention & Southern Baptist Convention.
--and the reflection of my heart: Grace River Church, Windsor, Colorado

My influences and partners are many, family and friends.  I am so very thankful high school roommates at HCBA: David Short, John Williamson, Pat Keebler, and Tim Minter. Thanks to Mr. Casey for being my dad and to Fred for being my big brother at HCBA. Dr. Smothers cared enough to write a note asking the president of Union to keep an eye on me and help in every way possible.  My dear friend Rose Snider got me interested in ministry at Union and served with me in off-campus ministries. Bruce Pique has been a true friend.  Dr. John Adams allowed me to serve on campus revival teams and gave me money for gas. Chuck Maxwell got me into radio.  Thanks to Ron Haney for being my good friend at WJAK.  Thanks to 80-year-old Deacon Marion who walked the streets of the Cliffside community with me inviting people to church.  Pastor D.M. Newton took me under his wing and taught me how to pastor.  Richard Holloman has been a true friend and mentor through the years. David Peacock is my friend and my first son in the ministry.  I love Larry Rainy's great big heart!  Gary Clyma didn't give up on me when I was down. Martin Castro very likely saved my life. Tom Pals and my dear friend Ken Datson gave me a new perspective on how to live.  Amy Fulton and Steve Ramsey carried me when I couldn't walk.  My friends and family at Grace River are a God-send--a safe place where I can come as I am and find hope and healing.

And of course, I am surrounded by family: Tina, Jaren & Jillian (and now Abigail), Zachery, my mom and dad, grandparents, the Kinsey's, Sandra, Cindy, and Mike, cousins, nephews and nieces.

Thanks to all of you for making me who I am!

50 down....and the best fifty yet to come!