Saturday, July 30, 2011

When you're dead, who will be the preacher?

At our church we just completed a week of Vacation Bible School. The Big Apple Adventure was terrific! VBS is one of the greatest weeks of the year for our Children's Ministry. What a great time to interact with the kids from our church family as well as a whole bunch of them from all over our community. A what a great opportunity to build the foundation of the Gospel in these kids' lives. I really believe that the investment of this week is a significant part of changing lives, cities and even nations. One first grader asked me in front of her whole class, "When you're dead, who will be the preacher?" I loved the question! My answer was, "One of you guys!" I am sure I was talking to future preachers, Sunday School teachers, missionaries as well as school teachers, business leaders, etc. who will make serving Jesus a priority in their lives and careers. These kids are already ministering to people. They brought their friends like crazy this week. And they brought their offering like crazy. They gave school supplies for Kits for Kids and over $950 this week to go to Joplin tornado recovery and to send a kid from New York City to church camp. Incredible!

I was just as thrilled with our incredible VBS staff of volunteers who gave their week to invest in our kids. Every evening there were about 100 volunteers (ages 13 to about 80!) who served the Lord by serving our kids. I love you guys! God has blessed our church family with unity and excitement and a bunch of creative people who love God and genuinely like each other! And I've got to give a mention to "The Men of VBS!" I'm not sure how many of you got in on that Rockettes reenactment, but we could hardly fit all of you in on the video (yes, there's video!). That was awesome - not very coordinated and kind of hairy, but awesome! Then there's Virgil with blue hair and pipe cleaner earrings. I will never forget Virgil with blue hair and pipe cleaner earrings. Also I loved the band in Ruby's Top Hat Cafe and Lounge. I thank God for real men who love to share Jesus creatively with our kids and showing them what it means to be godly men. Thanks VBS staff - men and women. You invested in someone who just may be the preacher when I'm dead. You blessed our kids this week and you blessed me!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Heartbeat

Last Sunday was a good day of celebration as our church continued our 150th Anniversary celebration. A lot of folks came back home to celebrate with us. It was good to have Pastor David Holt ('82-'92) and Music Minister Barth Fraker ('87-'94) back for the day. I have enjoyed learning our history through this process. It strikes me that it was very significant that in 1861, when our nation, state and even our own town was very divided and consumed by the Civil War, there were some people right here in Marshfield who were more concerned that the Gospel was being proclaimed. Our town was their mission field. Their heartbeat was to reach Marshfield for Jesus. One hundred fifty years later this must still be our heartbeat. Jesus said, "You will be my witnesses in  Jerusalem, in all Judea and in Samaria and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8). To bring that into our context, we are to be witnesses in Marshfield, and in all Missouri, across the United States and to the ends of the earth. We have times where our lives are divided and consumed by overwhelming circumstances or crises or we are just totally focused on ourselves. We have to fight those tendencies and check our heartbeat. My prayer for Marshfield First Baptist is that our heartbeat will continue to be the same heartbeat that originally brought life to this group of Jesus followers - that we keep on reaching Marshfield for Jesus, and that we go out from here to the ends of the earth. Last week we welcomed home a mission team from El Salvador. This week we have a team serving in Aurora, Nebraska. Sunday evening is another opportunity to serve our neighborhoods through Summer of Service projects. A week later we launch a home mission effort called Vacation Bible School. Our church has members constantly serving in various places around Missouri through Missourians on Mission and Campers on Mission, in the Rio Grand Valley of Texas and other locations. I am thankful for a church family who has a heartbeat for missions.

You're on a mission field, too. Check your heartbeat and take a look around you.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A strange mix

Goodbye to an old friend
Last week our church family was saddened by the death of our good friend and 15-year church custodian, Derry DeGuire. Derry had just retired from his position at our church back in March. He was always a hilarious story teller. He was one of those guys that funny things always seemed to happen to. He was a professional baseball player in his younger days, but still had an arm like nobody else! Derry also worked as a medical courier, and when a guy threatened to rob him a couple of years ago, Derry decked him on the parking lot of the gas station. Don't mess with the "old man!" He always acted like he dreaded Vacation Bible School week at our church because we "trashed" the building every night for a week. But he loved the kids and the kids loved him. Along with his granddaughter, all our daycare kids called him "Pappa Derry." We will all miss him.

Dad
This week my Dad is at my home visiting for a couple of weeks. I'm very grateful to be able to spend some concentrated time with him. He has been through many challenges over the past several years. After dealing with heart surgery, cancer, two knee replacements and Parkinson's, my Dad's famous line is, "I'll keep what I've got if I don't have to keep adding things to it!" He is a trooper! He keeps on going. In the midst of it all he continues to serve the Lord with his gifts and abilities. I am grateful for his godly influence in my life.

4th of July
The 4th of July was a great day of celebration and relaxation all in one. The Marshfield parade was great as always - and hot! It is quite the tradition around here. It's the longest running 4th of July parade west of the Mississippi, with something like 132 consecutive years. Our kids came home for the day and my in-laws joined us, along with my Dad, for a family cookout, a little Bocce ball  and then we capped the day off with the rodeo fireworks. God bless America!

Happy New Year(?)
It's not quite the New Year yet, but in church life, it's closer than you think! Our ministry year and fiscal year begins October 1, so this week has been hard hit with a lot of planning and preparation time for the new church year. I met with groups to enlist new committee members (we try to do as few committees as possible, but there are still a few!), to nominate new or returning ministry leaders and to do budget planning. It took several hours of planning, but a lot of good work was accomplished with some great leaders in our church family. Throw in the final planning meeting for our 150th Anniversary Celebration and I've been slammed with meetings this week. Glad it's Friday! Makes me want to break out into a Rebecca Black song!

Branson, Missouri, here we come
Tomorrow night it's time for a little fun with Dad. He's never been to Branson before so we thought we would liven things up with a little Pierce Arrow comedy! Looking forward to that!

Been a strange week with a real mixture of events. I'm thankful for God's provision for comfort in time of grief, for family, for country, for strength, for milestones and for comedy!