Friday, August 26, 2011

30 years?

So, this weekend Kim and I head back to Bama. We will spend a few hours with my dad and my sister and her family, but the main reason for this trip is my 30th high school reunion. Yep, I graduated from high school in Winfield, Alabama in 1981 (Go Pirates!) Hard to believe 30 years have gone by already. Seems like I was just there. Facebook and Twitter make it easy to keep up with many of my classmates these last few years, but there is nothing like being together face-to-face. We were in a small town; we had less than 100 in our graduating class. It was - and still is - a special group of people. Several of us have known each other since kindergarten. And 30 years have gone by since graduation??? Wow! Looking forward to catching up with some old friends. More next week. In the meantime, here's a glimpse of my life 30+ years ago...

Band seniors 1981 (third from left)

B-Team basketball (back row, again third from left)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sunday night at the river

Our baptism service at the James River on Sunday night was a beautiful time of worship and fellowship. I am grateful to camera operator Bryce Wilks for his excellent videography and to Associate Pastor Brandon Winkler for his editing and creativity. I wanted to share this baptism video so you could share in the experience in at least a small way. I can't help but smile every time each individual goes under the water. It's an awesome reminder that Jesus died, was buried and rose again for you and me. It also reminds us that in Christ, we die to the old way of life and are raised to walk a new life in Him.

Enjoy and be blessed...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A good day of worship

God of this city
This was a good day of worship and fellowship. Been teaching through a message series on reaching our city. I love the Bluetree song, "God of This City." A couple of very interesting stats from our city demographics: nearly 25% live below the poverty line; only 51% in our city are affiliated with a religious group. The field is white unto harvest and the church must respond to the physical and spiritual needs around us. Today I was challenged by Nehemiah's prayer to respond to the needs of our city in compassion, in brokenness and in faith. When Nehemiah was faced with the devastating news from his city, Jerusalem, he turned to the great and awesome God of heaven. As he prayed, he focused more on God than on the problems in Jerusalem. I need to learn that lesson as well. I pray that my heart will break for what breaks God's heart. And as we focus on God rather than on our problems we begin to see the power and faithfulness of God at work. Then we become city-changers!

An evening at the river
Tonight our church family met "down at the river." We had worship and testimonies at the water's edge, then baptized five individuals. There's something about baptism at the river that seems to strike a chord in everyone present. The Spirit was certainly present in that time of worship. I am so very blessed to lead a church family where God's love and unity are so very real. I am thankful to see the church at work in our city as people are reaching out, meeting needs and leading their friends and neighbors to Jesus.

Go make an impact in your city this week!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Great. White. North. Family.

Ok, it's not white in the summer time, but it is great, and we are very north (relative to where we are most of the time). Our family - three-fourths of us, anyway - is in central Minnesota on a little r & r this week. We left 100+ degrees in Missouri yesterday to come to a high in the 80's today! Love it! The lake is beautiful and cool, in more ways than one. I've actually walked on this water before - when it was frozen in the winter! This week we swim and tube and stuff and just generally relax. Thank you to my faith family at home for the time away. Each of us needs a retreat every so often to rest and re-energize.

For some reason, when I'm here, it seems easier to hear what God is saying. I'm sure it has to do with there being no meetings, no schedule, the phone isn't ringing, etc. On the other hand, there's lots of laughing and, dare I say, "cackling." No, this is not a farm. Back to my seems easier to hear God here. This morning I sat outside looking out over the lake and read the first few chapters of Deuteronomy. Moses was telling Israel to remember what God had told them and to move forward in faith. There were promises to claim. Yet with the Promised Land waiting to be taken, God's first reminder was to give attention to family. Teach your children about God's commands; tell them the stories of how God was faithful to deliver you from slavery, peril, starvation. Tell them how God is still faithful, even when we are unfaithful. And God's promises are for His children today. God has put us on this earth in physical families and when we trust in Christ, God brings us into His spiritual family. That family is called the Church. We need family. For good experiences or bad, we wouldn't be here without our physical families. And just as vital, we need our spiritual family. They are the people who teach us, who love us, who correct us, laugh with us, cry with us or sometimes even disappoint us; but they are family and we need them. I'm thankful for family - for my faith family at Marshfield First Baptist and my physical family. Spending time with them in the great, sometimes white, north is pretty good.