Thursday, October 30, 2008


Election thoughts...

I am hearing a lot in our churches about our responsibility to vote and how important this election is. I do not think it is a Christian responsibility to vote. We are citizens of the kingdom of God.

People who last year were adamant that right wing evangelicals could not link Christianity to a certain political position (Republican), are now adamant that Christians must vote for the candidate of social justice and racial equality (even tho he a strong proponent of abortion rights). Isn't that hypocritical? Christians either can or cannot espouse a political position, but that position cannot change based on whether it is your candidate or not.

I am not sure voting "Christian" principles to "bring our nation back to God" is right. I do not see anything resembling this position in Scripture. If anything, Scripture would be opposed to that position. We are called to bring people back to God as part of kingdom that transcends earthly borders. We are not called to bring nations back to God.

We have never been a Christian nation. I do not think there has ever been a Christian nation. It is impossible. Unless you want to argue that Constantine created a Christian nation. And I think he did not.

If our nation elects a leader that takes us further from Christian standards and ideals, that may actually benefit the church. We have always grown under persecution. We are by nature counter cultural. We do not fit in this world. The kingdom of God grows rapidly in times of economic duress, natural disasters, and political persecution.

By the way, I did vote early. Not because it was my Christian duty, and not because of spiritual reasons. I voted for the candidates who I think would benefit this nation. But it was not a high priority, nor was it anywhere near the most important thing I did that day.

By the way, I wanted to find the candidate and/or party clearly endorsed by Jesus. There isn't one. So I am not sure any of us should bring up politics at church. I don't think they go together at all.

So here's who I voted for: Oh never mind. I've got more important things to do than talk about that.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


ACU Homecoming

Well we survived it. Had a great weekend. The Friday night Carnival was great. All four grandkids loved it. Andrew (not quite one year old) was fascinated by the donkey at the Petting Corral. I could barely keep him from going over the rail to pet it more. Anna bonded with one goat in particular and fed him a whole cup of treats. Jake considerately asked each goat if they were hungry first. And Avery wanted to touch them all until she got close and then it was "no thanks".

Galaxy breakfast was fun because I got to see so many guys I have known over the years. Parade was great. Lots of visiting and lots of fun for the grandkids. We won the game of course.

Went to my 35th reunion Saturday nite. Odd, but we mostly visited with Abilene people we don't get to see very often. Not a very big crowd. Very expensive. I will consider our two meal tickets as a contribution to ACU.

Sunday finished with a great day at church. Good crowds, a baptism, and my Chapel class went well. We got to introduce and bless Ricky Pruitt, our new Youth Minister. Finished the day with small group at our house.

So what was the best part of Homecoming? It was the people. Having all the kids around, seeing people I have shared life with over the years. Realizing I like my life now better than any time in the past and expecting I will be able to say that for the rest of my life.

Finally... I am glad Marsha still looks good, she still makes my eyes light up when I see her. I was tickled by the friend I hadn't seen in 30 years who said I still sounded the same, was still funny, and was glad I was still preaching. They didn't mention my looks.

Hope your weekend was good too.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


So what does a vision mean?

So I want to be part of a church whose vision is all about evangelism, growing disciples, and equipping each other to accomplish those tasks. So what does that mean in real terms? After all, it is easy to cast a vision, develop a slogan, and talk a good game. But how does it translate to reality?

I would evaluate every program to see if it directly related to one of these tasks. If not, change it or eliminate it. I realize that may eliminate some worthy projects. But every church cannot do everything. For example, we at Southern Hills often host Jesus Parties for a group of mentally challenged adults in our community. It is a wonderful program. Is it evangelistic? Does it develop disciples? Does it equip anyone to do those things? If not, do we need to continue it? Is it a good thing to do? Yes. Is it a fine Christian activity? Yes. But is it true to the vision I would have for a church?

We have had great publicity with our WATS day (we are the sermon) where we go and do service for people in our community. What a great evangelistic tool. Serve people in order to open doors for the good news of Jesus. But is that what we do? I would ask that question. What about youth programs? Are they designed to be evangelistic, grow disciples, and equip young people? If not, why are we doing them?

Well, I am not sure I have all the answers. I do know that sometimes we are overloaded and burdened with programs and projects. Let's just be sure we have a reason for them. Remember, this is just one guy's vision. Just thinking out loud.

Feel free to share your insight.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Evangelism, Discipling, and Equipping...

The third thing I want in a church is to make the the passion for evangelism and discipling practical. I want to be in church that is completely sold out and committed to reaching the lost of this world. And we must grow people up into the image of Jesus. But to do that we must equip members to be able to do these things.

We must intentionally have structure and avenues for equipping our church to grow. How does the brand new Christian learn how to treat his wife with love and respect instead of anger and violence? How does the new Christian learn to overcome addictions to sex, alcohol, or money? How do they learn to share their faith with friends and family?

How do our children learn to grow up in Christ? For most of us, we had Christian parents to model Christian living in a foreign culture (and our culture is foreign to the Christian). But new Christians do not have that advantage. So we as a body must equip them. I love the passage in Titus 2 about older women teaching the younger women how to be faithful wives and mothers.

How does a new Christian learn to share their faith with friends and family? It is not enough to want to be a Great Commission church. We must be willing to train and equip Christians for the specific task of evangelism. We must train each other to know how to provide spiritual counsel. New Christians must be shown, taught, and expected to learn how to help others come to Jesus and grow in him.

Next time I will explore the implications of this vision in terms of budget, programs, and staff.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Vision, part 2

The second part of my vision for the church is that we would be a people who practice discipleship. We have typically not done this well, if at all. New Christians must be disciplined to become more like Jesus. I want Christians to learn to pray, give, study, evangelize, serve, and bear one another's burdens.

We have for too long just assumed that everyone "gets it" in terms of how to live as a Christian. But they don't. New Christians do not automatically know how to be faithful spouses and parents. They are changing life long patterns.

As an elder I am saddened by those in my flock who do not value marriage, have no spiritual discipline, and exhibit no maturity in Christ. But we have not taught these things. And these are issues among Christians who were raised in church, much less our new converts.

I want to be part of a church that shares life with each other. I want to be passionate about reaching the lost but just as passionate about teaching them to grow up to be a mature disciple.

So my vision is to belong to church that shares the good news of Jesus, and helps each one grow up in Christ.

What do you think? Are we a discipling church? Should we be?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


A Vision...

So what would be my vision for the church I would most want to be a part of? And since I am currently at Southern Hills, what is my my vision for what I would have Southern Hills to be?

I want us to be a growing, evangelistic church. I want growth to come because we are reaching people who do not know Jesus. I do not believe we are here to "keep house" and maintain. It is heartbreaking to realize that we baptize on average about one first generation Christian per month. It's been a little better lately but that is frightening.

I don't care about growth that comes by swell. That is, people who come to us from other congregations. That is deceiving. If we start focusing on that, then we must worry about those who leave us to attend another congregation. Pretty soon, we are expending incredible effort to get -- or keep -- the dissatisfied.

I am happy to have move-in Christians worship with us but that is hardly kingdom growth. And I am not opposed to "restoration" growth. That is, people who believe in Jesus but come to us because they learn more about how to follow Jesus and please God. And we do reach many like that now.

But I want to be part of a church that burns to reach those who do not know Jesus... those who are without hope. I long for the day when we do baptisimal blessings every week in every service.

I want us to be a church that lives the Great Commission and not just preaches it. I want us to be an Acts 2 church. I want us to really catch the pattern of church life in Acts. And it is not about worship and organizational style. It is about exploding, blow-up growth because we are telling everyone the story of Jesus and what he has done in our lives.

So what about it? Are we evangelistic? Should we be driven by that? How do we do that?

More to come.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008



I have been asked several times lately about the vision for Southern Hills. And because I speak often around our fellowship, I get to hear other congregations talk about their vision. Or about trying to cast a vision. We at SH often talk about the Community Front Porch. And we talk about Inviting, Including, and Involving. I think that is the right order. But I have been thinking about what I think my vision is for Southern Hills. And some of this would be my vision for any church anywhere.

So I think over the next several posts I may share my current vision for what I think should be our guiding principles and foundation. I need to be clear that this is not the elder's vision. I am one of seventeen and doubt they would would see me as their spokesman. I am not speaking for the ministerial staff at Southern Hills. I am not on staff at SH. I am not paid by SH and I do not attend any staff meetings.

But this was good for me to think about. It has been good for me to process what I think should be our vision. I may be right or I may be wrong, but maybe it will spur some thought and conversation for you. I invite your questions, comments, feed-back, and opinions. From the Southern Hills members who read this or from others.

So be thinking about your vision for your congregation. I will start sharing mine next week.

I'll be in Jackson, Tn. the rest of the week. Stay faithful.

Monday, October 06, 2008


It was a great weekend

Some weekends are just good.

Friday morning I went fishing with Todd Hooper. He is one of my best elder pals. He is always good for my spirit and actually helps make shepherding fun.

Then Friday night we met Gary and Debbie Cox. They are two of our oldest (or maybe I should say longest tenured) and best friends. We go back to ACU days and we had our kids together. It was a good time to catch up and connect.

Spent Friday night and Saturday morning with my folks and then they came over to Mesquite Sunday to hear me preach. I just was reminded how blessed I have been to have my folks. They have loved us, been supportive, and always encouraging.

Then Saturday afternoon and night we spent with Joe Don, Jamie, and the kids. I always am humbled and touched by the maturity and spiritual growth of my kids. Anna was great. She even let me watch Beauty and the Beast with her. And Andrew is a hoot. Laughs all the time and never seems to get too upset.

Then Sunday I preached at the Mesquite church of Christ as part of their mission emphasis month. Got to visit with Steve and Keitha Bailey. We have been preaching buds for over thirty years. Marsha and Keitha still look pretty much the same. The two Steves have really gotten old.

And the common thread to a great weekend was Jesus. Every one of these great blessings came about because of the goodness of God and the commitment of family and friends to follow him.

Nothing beats the ties we have because of Jesus. Thanks God.

Thursday, October 02, 2008


Spiritual Growth

One of my friends, J. R. Rodriguez, recently asked me about how to foster spiritual growth. Actually, he asked it of all the elders but it got me to thinking. I thought about all the spiritual disciplines and I have no problem with that approach, but I kept coming back to Philemon 6...

"I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ."

If I am hearing Paul correctly, there is a benefit for us in sharing our faith: the more we talk about our faith, the more we understand the good things we have in Christ. He didn't say "the more you will appreciate it", but "the more you will understand" the good things we have in Christ.

We have not fully appreciated this. If all of us would be more active in sharing our faith, we would grow spiritually. Faith sharers survive temptation, they help others know Jesus, they mature spiritually, and they keep growing. They don't have time or inclination to bog down in things outside the gospel.

Making disciples makes me a better disciple.

Good plan God.

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