Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Back from Cuba...

We are back from 4 days in Cuba. I continue to be amazed at the great work God is doing in Cuba. The Christians there are committed, passionate, and evangelistic. The province of Matanzas has about 600 members of the church of Christ. About 250 of those are converts in the last three years. This year they have baptized around 60 or 70 so far.

I worry that someday we will get American missionaries into Cuba who will mess things up. Some will insist they have certain doctrines wrong and they better shape up or else. Then lines of fellowship will be drawn. Tragic. Others will insist that they need to incorporate things into worship and that will cause division.

What I really wish is that Cuba would send missionaries over here and teach us to be evangelistic.

I have tried to spend some time seriously evaluating why they are doing something that we are not. It is not because they love God more than us. Or that they are more committed. And we live in a culture that is post Christian. Their country is not Christian. Neither is ours. They have very few financial resources. We have lots.

So in my next blog I am going to share some things I think we could learn from the church in Cuba.

I love my brothers and sisters in Cuba and I was glad to see them. But I missed my church family here and am glad to be home.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Blog awards

The Tulsa Soul Winning Workshop has an awards luncheon this year for best Christian blogs. I continue to marvel at the new and different ways to communicate (and enjoy community) that new media offers. There are life experience blogs, theological blogs, practical ministry blogs, and all kinds in between. Even with this blog, I am amazed at the people I encounter who read it... and I had no idea.

Some of my favorite blogs got nominated for these awards. Sarah Stirman, from Southern Hills, was nominated in the Best Woman's Blogger category. Sarah is a gifted writer and a good friend. http://sarahstirman.blogspot.com/ And yes, I know there is a way to make this a live link. I just don't remember how right now and am too busy to look it up. Sarah also does a great thing for our congregation that you may want to do. She maintains a blog roll on our Southern Hills website so members can check out our bloggers. Several women are listed, plus a couple of ministers, and one elder. Pretty cool.

And some of my favorite bloggers did not get nominated. Tim Archer has a great blog that deals with theological issues in a practical, brief way that is enlightening and helpful. http://www.timothyarcher.com/kitchen/ I know, this too should be a live link. It makes me wonder how many great blogs are out there that i don't know about. How does anyone have time to read them all?

Blogging, Facebook, My Space, Twitter, IM, texting, and on it goes. Some of these I am involved in, some not. Some I see value in, some I just don't get yet. So how do we use these for ministry, community, evangelism? And at this point, I am not thinking about Herald of Truth or Southern Hills, but about each of us as individuals. What great tools. What great responsibility. I wonder if the apostles would have a facebook page? Would Jesus twitter?

I think so. And yes I would subscribe to the Jesus feed.

See you in about a week. I am off for Cuba Thursday morning.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


March Madness

Love this time of year even tho my Arkansas Razorbacks are nowhere the tournament.

Final four: Memphis over Wake, NC over Pitt.

North Carolina over Memphis in final.

So am i right or wrong?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Do we really believe the world is lost...

One of the first things we must ask about evangelism is whether we believe people without Jesus are really lost. If there are many roads to God then we have no compelling message. I am convinced Jesus is the only way to God. So it is urgent that I tell people the good news about him. He is not one way, or a way...he is the way. I believe that people without Jesus will spend eternity in hell. So I think Christians have found the only way to God. Not Jews. Or Buddhists. Or Muslems. Those who follow Christ.

We live in a culture that is offended by that position. It is offensive. And it is meant to be. Will we be persecuted if we boldly proclaim the news that there is a hell and people who do not go to the cross with Jesus will spend forever there? Probably. But our world is going to hell. We have the answer to save them. We better share it.

We are not being judgmental. We are not being harsh. We are being true to the only one who can bring us from death to life. It is a critical message. We need to be clear about it. and it takes courage. There are my three sermon points.

But it is hard to be evangelistic if we are not sure everyone needs the message.

So do we still believe the world is lost without Jesus?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Good bye Mike

Mike Cope has resigned as the preaching minister at Highland. First it was Eddie Sharp leaving University here in Abilene and now Mike. They were both long term at their congregations. I appreciate several things about Mike. One is his love for -- and ability to communicate with -- university students. I share that same passion. In fact, Abilene might be the only place in the world where you would have two "over fifties" preaching to college students. I also appreciate how Mike shared his life with Highland and the Christian community here in Abilene. Joy, pain, triumph and tragedy were part of a very authentic preaching voice.

I wish Mike well in his new gig with Landon Saunders. Working with Herald of Truth, I appreciate so much of what Landon did when he was one of our "voices". I also hope Mike continues to preach. As much as we would argue a different theology in our fellowship, we are still very oriented to a professional clergy. I hope we can still hear Mike in different venues and settings.

I honor his family. I appreciate Diane and my wife and I are close to Matt and Chris. Marsha taught them and had a special connection to Chris when he came back to Lincoln school after the wreck. When he could only attend partial days at first, it was her room where he waited for Mike to pick him up. Matt and I were close when he was at ACU thru Galaxy.

So God speed Mike.

And a special note to my preacher at Southern Hills -- Phil Ware. Eddie and Mike are exceptions. This is not a trend. Stay put.

Friday, March 06, 2009


The Evangelism Myth...

If you talk enough about sharing our faith, and do enough things related to sharing our faith... then it is easy to believe we are evangelistic. Even when you are not. I've been thinking a lot about this lately. I have done evangelism training and seminars for years. I do them for Herald of Truth. And now we are planning a major emphasis at Southern Hills to equip our people to do evangelism. Our elders are so committed to this that we are going to have Phil preach on it and we are going to spend major class time in the fall teaching our people how to share their faith. I am heavily involved in this so I have been thinking about it a lot.

At Southern Hills, some of us realized that we have been doing a lot of things relating to evangelism, but that is not the same as being evangelistic. We spent a year crafting a mission statement about God's front porch to the community in Abilene and in the world. We have crafted worship services that communicate to different generations. We are spending millions to make sure our buildings are conducive to community outreach. We sponsor lots of activities where the community is exposed to us.

And we are getting a lot of people onto the front porch. Now we have to figure out how to invite them into the house. We have opened many doors for evangelism, but we haven't done much with them yet. Doing community service, locally or around the world, is not evangelism. Communicating the old message in vibrant meaningful ways is not evangelism if the lost are not there to hear it. Functional buildings are meaningless if not used for the function they were built for.

Evangelism happens when we tell someone about Jesus. If that doesn't happen, are we really any different than a social organization dedicated to serving people?

I don't want to just talk about evangelism. I don't want to pat ourselves on the back for doing a number of things to help us evangelize. I want people to hear the good news of Jesus.

I'll share more about this over the next few weeks, but it is really on my heart. Love to hear your thoughts about evangelism. Is anybody out there really doing it?

Wednesday, March 04, 2009


In or out...

There was a book published recently that lists acapella churches of Christ. They did not include Richland Hills since they have an instrumental service. I have been amazed at the reaction from various people to this event.

Let me state clearly that what RH does is their business. I believe in church autonomy so who am I to question their elders? I love RH. I consider it a second church home for us. My kids go there. I am good friends with several of their elders. Appreciate their staff. But they are not an acapella only church which is the focus of the book.

The book listed who they intended to list. I am not sure that the authors or publishers of this list intend for it to be a listing of "approved" congregations. They don't claim that is what it is. Should there be a book like this? I don't know. I wouldn't write one like it.

But I am amazed at the reaction of some people. We sure are quick to jump to conclusions and draw lines. Some of the loudest proponents of unity sure were quick to condemn this publication. Sure seemed to imply that they were willing to draw their own lines to exclude someone who they thought drew inappropriate lines. Wow.

Get over it. I was interested to see that some congregations having instrumental services still made the list. And I know some of numbers listed for some congregations are wildly inaccurate. Who cares? Do we think somehow God uses this book for his list? And are we proud to be included in this list, or excluded? And who really has time to stress over this?

The world is going to hell and we are going to spend time with this? I don't imagine Richland Hills has time to stress over this. They are trying to make disciples in Fort Worth and around the world. I don't even know if Southern Hills made the list, or if we are named as one of the largest congregations. I have too much to do reaching people in Abilene and around the world.

And now I've wasted ten minutes ranting about this. Not the book. The reaction to it. I suspect Satan was much more tickled about controversy stirred up by those who reacted so strongly. If nobody had gotten so cranked up, I just don't think the book could have had much impact. Which is why I won't even tell you the name of it.

It seems for some people unity will always mean seeing things my way, whether it is a book or in the way you must react to it.

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