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December 2008

November 2008 entries

We Did not "Realize the Dream"

I'm really thankful, really I am. I am thankful for life and health and a job. Nowdays, those last two are hard to come by. I have to keep reminding myself, however, that my joy is in the Lord and not in circumstances. The circumstances would have me depressed. I have to admit that by Sunday afternoon I was losing the battle against depression.

As many of you who read this post are aware DBBC has been in a capital funds campaign for nearly two months when you consider all the up front work necessary to get it off the ground. Last Sunday was the "Big Event." The day was to be full of expectation and prayer; and it was. We actually observed the Lord's Supper together in the A.M. Something that hasn't been done in years. The members came to the front to lay their 3 year committments in a basket. We had prayerfully set goals at 4, 8, and 12 million dollars. The amount raised would have significant impact on the future of Dallas Bay. The campaign was one of the most difficult things I have done in the 19 years I have been honored to be the pastor of such a great church. Personally asking for monetary committments is not my thing and does not easily roll off my tongue. However, I did it and followed the prescribed outline given to us by the experts to the letter of the law. So as I said; Sunday was the big day. So we hoped and prayed and fasted. The final tally was less than big. Actually, it was very disappointing. The total was ?.? million. (We wil reveal the total on December 7) That's hard to swallow, but given the economic crisis in the country it was not unimaginable. The depressing part was that only 37% of our church participated. That really took the wind out of my sails. I understand people not being able to commit to as much as they would like in better times, but to make no contribution is downright depressing. To not give up even one meal or soft drink a week to give to the campaign means I did a poor job casting the vision. 

To everyone who did work hard, and there were many; and to everyone who did committ to the campaign; thank you. Your hard work and sacrifice will allow Dallas Bay to continue into the future. To everyone who did not; God bless you. You exercised your right to prayerfully not participate. To be angry with you would be hypocritical. All along I have said I will love everyone the same whether you committ to a three year pledge or not. I still love and appreciate all of you. I just have to come to the realization that the failure of the campaign is my responsibility.  For what ever reason I failed to motivate enough people for the campaign to be a success. Much prayer and deliberation must be done by all of us now to determine the direction of Dallas Bay from this point forward. My prayer is that I did not allow the open door of opportunity that was before us to be closed forever. 

Pastor Ken    

The Church De-Classified

The church keeps getting redefined. For years while I was a youngster church was just that "church". It wasn't until I became a pastor that I learned there were differing shades of church. The first question asked of me while attending a pastor's conference was, "Are you a liberal or a fundamentalist?" I wasn't sure so I said I was a Baptist, but I had been raised Pentecostal. They thought I was avoiding the question. They were wrong. I was just ignorant. I didn't know you based fellowship privileges upon where you pitched your tent; with the fundamentalists or the liberals. I tried both camps and found I was pretty much a square peg in a round hole with both. 

Then churches were characterized as "seeker-friendly" or traditional. That mostly meant you either sang songs from a book or a screen and that the preacher either told you outright you were a sinner or more politely said you were "missing the mark". Recently, another was birthed; the emergent church. Now don't even get me started on this one. Someone has said this church hasone foot in the past and the other stepping into the future. That means they don't wear ties but like to sing songs written before the invention of the radio. That's ok, but I have to admit one Gregorian chant sounds like another to me. Now I'm told the latest phase the church is entering is called "missional". Missional is usually compared to churches of the opposite extreme called "attractional". The first promotes going to where the people are and the latter drawing people to the church. The problem is those promoting the missional church model wants to criticize the attractional model as big and insensitive. Here we go again. It's like the old days where we were forced to choose sides; fundamental or liberal? It seems to me that churches that don't go out to where people are hurting and hopeless are just country clubs that ignore God's compassion for "lost sheep". And churches that abandon programs for youth, children and seniors and denounce preaching as old fashioned fail to make significant impact on society. I know of no large "missional" churches. Now big is not always better, but may I remind you that we have a "great" (meaning big) commission to fulfill before the Lord returns. Large groups of believers who are consistently being discipled by a teacher instructing them in God's Word have not lost their effectiveness just because the concept is no longer in vogue with the religious "in-crowd". 

I have a suggestion. Why don't we stop labeling our churches and just get about the business of being the body of Christ. Can't we find room for diversity in His body. Can there not be small groups of believers infiltrating society to reach those who may never darken the doors of a church building co-existing with those who choose to work from a main base where human and financial resources can pooled and used to bring hope into the lives of people living in darkness? Can we stop calling each other names and celebrate our different roles in being the body of Christ? I just know I want to be a part of a church where people are being discipled and coming to know Jesus regardless of the size of the church or the term used to descibe it. Does that make me a seeker-sensitive, liberal, emergent church member with a missional mindset? Heaven help us!

Pastor Ken                 

Not "Tied" to a Tie

Last week I showed up on Sunday morning wearing a tie. Now, for most Baptist preachers that would not raise any eyebrows, but at Dallas Bay it did. Some people stared, others asked if there were something wrong, but most just asked why? Most people here know my disdain for the most useless article of clothing ever created. I think the origin of the tie goes back to the garden. God made Adam wear a tie while he worked in the soil after he bit the forbidden fruit. Suddenly gardening became work instead of a hobby. Seriously, why would anyone, on a regular basis, choose to wear something around their neck that acts to cut circulation off to the brain? It is obviously counter-productive to rational thought. Don't give me the "because Jesus wore one" argument. Jesus did not wear a tie. Come to think of it he didn't wear shoes and socks either. Hummm... That's an idea... ok, back to the tie. So I show up wearing a tie under my sweater and the questions begin to fly. My response, "because I can." Isn't that great. God accepts me as a human being worthy of His love with or without a tie. I read in a good book once, "Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart." I concur.

Please don't misunderstand, several men at Dallas Bay choose to wear ties. I think it's great. I think it's also great that many do not. It is awsome to be in a place where God is the focus of our attention and not what each other is wearing. I noticed recently that one of the most creative pastors in the country has begun to wear a tie. Ed Young, Jr., pastor of Fellowship Church in Dallas, Texas has discarded his wild shirts and taken up wearing ties, and heaven forbid, suits and ties. I bet if you were to ask Ed why he has changed his Sunday-go-to-meeting attire he would say, "because I can." How liberating to serve a God who doesn't care what we wear in an environment where we are allowed to be ourselves. The funny thing is, on the same day I chose to wear a tie after two years of no tie, my father came to church without one. I thought how ironic is this! It was great. Maybe some of my rebellious spirit is rubbing off on Dad. 

It makes me think, this tie thing I mean...if God doesn't care whether we wear a tie or not, does He care what is the color of our skin? Does He care about tatoos or hair color? Does it bother God if you have your ears pierced or even your nose? Does it bother Him if you ride to church on a Harley wearing leathers or in a Mercedes wearing mink? Probably not. No, I'm sure it doesn't. But look for me to come to church wearing mink before I wear another tie. As a matter of fact, I think I'll get my nose pierced before I wear another tie on Sunday. (Just kidding Marilyn...sometimes my wife reads this blog) So next time you see couple on the street or in the store with their ears pierced, leather stockings, black fingernails and baring their belly button just remember; God loves this man and his wife too. Have a great day. See you this weekend.

Pastor Ken             

Election Day 2008

Today is November 4, 2008. This is a great day to be an American. It's not great because I agree with the person or the party that everyone expects to get elected. I certainly do not. I probably differ with Obama more than any candidate in my adult life. But, you know what, I did not have to vote for him. I did get to vote for his opponent. I did not feel pressure to vote for either candidate. I did not have to put my life in jeopardy ( read here Iraq)to visit my local ballot box. In 4 more years, the Lord willing, I will be able to cast my vote again for the candidate of my choice. The beauty of a representative form of government is that we have the right to vote our choice. The system allows for equal opportunity for all candidates to campaign and solicit my vote. The government does not tell me who to vote for. The media may try and sway my allegiance, but they cannot enter the booth with me to cast my vote. On each and every election day I am especially proud to be an American!

I am even more honored to be adopted into a royal family that out ranks even the most formidable earthly political leader. My Father is in control regardless of the winner of today's election. He mandates that I not only obey those in authority over me, but that I pray for them as well. To get too uptight about the election is to forget Who is really in control. If Mr. Obama is our new president beginning in 2009, then I am compelled to pray for him according to God's Word. I believe if God could change the heart of Saul who persecuted the church in its infancy, He is more than able to change the heart of our president today. 

Let me say again that every election day I stick out my chest a little further and I hold my head a little higher. I am proud to live in a free country where I can still vote for my choice without fear. May God drive us to our knees to pray for whomever becomes our next elected president. May God be exalted above every name! 

In His Shadow,

Pastor Ken