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February 2009 entries

Tomorrow's Headlines

There are days when preparing to write my weekly entry of "Out of the Box" that I struggle with what to say. Then there are others, like today, when I struggle to choose a topic from among many that are darting randomly in my head. I've been mentally chewing on the economic problems of our world and how it effects God's kingdom. I just reported to the Sunday morning crowd how our attendance and membership continue to increase while both givers and gifts have substantially decreased. I'm not sure I have the mental ability to explain this phenomenon, or if I did, whether I have the spiritual capacity to accept the answer. I have also pondered the changing panorama of the church. I recently read an article that stated the fastest growing segment of the New England religious population is evanglical mega-church attending Christ followers. In a part of our country where Catholicism and main-line Protestants have been the vast majority,  I wonder what catalyst is moving religious people our way. Maybe, you have thoughts on either or both these subjects and I would be happy to hear them, but I think I am going to discuss another matter entirely.

This Sunday I begin a series called "Tomorrow's Headlines." The theme of the series is the chronological unveiling of future events descibed in the Bible that make up what we call the end times. It is not, as some have called it, a series on Revelation. The prohecies will come from the Gospels, Daniel, Isaiah, Ezekiel, I Thessalonians and Revelation. I haven't approached this subject in a while because I have a tendency to go overboard and get in way over people's heads. This is after all the subject of my doctoral thesis. I once spent more than six months on Revelation alone. I ended my exhaustive, and some some said exhausting, preaching when a long time member lovingly said, "Pastor, some of us may not be as interested in this subject as you are." So, I am confining myself to only 4 messages. But that being said, I have once again been set afire by the study of prophecy. Nothing stirs my soul more than reading of future events from God's perspective. Since our Lord is not constrained by time and space everything we read in the Bible about the future is written by the hand of One Who has already seen it come to pass.  

I have just finished the first message entitled, "Millions Gone - Conspiracy Cited." I once again began to refresh my mind of those future events that will be heralded by the shout of God. I let my imagination picture the vacant pillows and empty hospital rooms of true believers around the world. For the first time I imagined a mortician who suddenly finds the lifeless body before him disappear into thin air. I imagine every city in the world will suddenly lose thousands of their citizens. Newspapers and news organizations will clamor to come up with a sensible and sellible solution to the crisis. No one will have heard His voice who remain because the Bible teaches us that only His sheep hear His voice. UFO's, terrorists, secret societies and magic may all be suspected of this sudden evacuation, but some will remember what they only thought they had forgotten. Maybe it will be the voice of a Sunday School teacher they will hear. Or perhaps, lodged in the recesses of their mind a sermon happened to make it's way to the forefront. "Did he say that the Lord would return someday for His followers? " Statements too fantastic to believe before will now be too horrible to ignore. 

I remember as a teenager listening to a song in youth group that repeated the chorus, "I wish we' d all been ready." This old song about the coming of Christ would always make me think about my eternal destiny. Particularly as the lights were suddenly turned off by someone sitting in the back of the room waiting just before the last word was sung. In the darkness we all thought about where we would spend forever. This Sunday, may God bring people nine to ninety to consider the same thing. 

Pastor Ken           


A Groovy Kind of Feeling

Without divulging my age entirely, I was a child of the sixties and a teen in the 70's. So music for me runs the gamut from the birth of rock and roll, think "happy days", through the drug lyric laced Jimi Hendrix and Janis Jopland era, to the white polyster suits of John Travolta and the Bee Gees. I remember laying face down in a pool of tears listening to Badfinger's "Looking Out of My Lonely Room" through my Panasonic headphones after my first girlfriend ended our relationship. It was playing on my 8 track player by the way. My high school years were dominted by the southern rock sounds of Creedence Clearwater Revival and Lynard Skynard. Three Dog Night, one of the coolest names for a rock band ever, was often playing in my below dash after market 8 track as I cruised the Shoneys parking lot in Hixson slunk low behind the wheel of my 1966 4 door Ford Falcon. Nothing could beat the Doobie Brothers as they soulfully wailed out "China Grove" or the Eagles as they sang "Witchie Woman" on a warm summer night. Has there ever been a better song to sit on the hood of your car and talk to your wanna be girlfriend than "Strawberry Fields Forever" sang by the legendary Beatles. Just thinking about these songs takes me back to a day when the world was simpler and my life was less hectic. So much so that if you were to tag along in my Jeep you would probably be entertained by channel six or seven on my satellite radio. These channels play songs from my youth 24 hours a day. 

....................

Ok I'm back. I took a brief trip on the "Yellowbrick Road" there for a second. So what has all this got to do with my faith? Well a lot if you think in the kind of disconnected way that I usually do. You see I prefer more contemporary praise and worship music when it comes to church today. I like the more God directed prose of today's music than the music of the past that often just spoke of our plight here on earth being plagued with troubles. Do you remember, "We'll soon be done with troubles and trials, troubles and trials..." Maybe you didn't sing that in church as a child. Or maybe you didn't attend church as a child at all. But, I have to admit, occassionally I get misty eyed at an old gospel song of the past. I remember sister Poe testifying and singing "I'll Meet You in the Morning" or "In the Sweet Bye and Bye" as I wished the service would end and my family could go home. I'm not so sure I would wish the time away anymore. There is something to be said about getting caught in the emotion of the moment. Something healing about the waves of memories pouring  over our souls as we listen to the haunting familiar gospel songs of our youth. 

What does this mean? Am I suggesting we should abandon anything written since the onslaught of the '80s? Should we give in to everyone who complains about all that new-fangled  music that is repeated over and over again. No, I am not. What I am suggesting is that their might be a place where the soul finds solace in the past during times of worship. Maybe that is one of the places where we can find refuge from the storms that beat against us. If Eric Claypton's melodiuos guitar rifts while playing "Layla" bring back waves of emotion of times gone by, perhaps the organ pumping out "When the Role is Called Up Yonder" can bring the refreshing wind from days yet to be.

Until we meet again....stay groovy, man!

Pastor Ken                    


Youch!

I'll be brief. One my battery is running low and two I'm in a bit of pain. Monday morning I had out-patient surgery. It should have been routine, but nothing with me is ever routine. It seems that my car accident back in 2000 caused some internal damage that no one knew about. So when the surgeon got inside he found that the crushing injury had caused tissues to fuse together. So in order to fix the problem he had to cut his way in. YOUCH! 

Needless to say, I am in much pain. I would appreciate all the prayers I can get. So instead of reading a long blog entry spend the extra few minutes praying for your pastor. I'll talk to you soon.

Pastor Ken    


Survey Says!

Thanks for the great feedback on the last post. I wasn't looking for words of affirmation concerning the ministry here at DBBC, but I got a lot of positive input that lets me know we are really touching lives  with this ministry. Keep those cards and letters coming!

This week I want to touch on a similar thought provoking subject. Many of you may have read the article in the Metro section of the local newspaper titled, "Online survey indicates disconnect between Christian faith, established church". (Monday, January 19, 2009) I don't read the paper on a regular basis, but I heard this article discussed on talk radio and decided to read it for myself. It seems Ryan May, founder of the nondenominational Net Church, paid for billboard space on I24 East that read, "If You Hate Church.com". When people arrived at the website they were asked to take a survey about their like or dislike of the church. Here are some of the results:

    79% of people who don't like church say that church people are quick to judge others

    78% of that same group said church people are fake or hypocritical

    18% said church is boring and doesn't do anything for me

    12% said they couldn't relate to stuff they talk about.

One respondent said that congregations too often expect people to fix themselves and then come to church. An open-ended question posed in the survey asked, "If you could tell Christians one thing, I would say..." Mr. May said the answers included everything under the sun. 

OK, so let me get this straight. Two-thirds of people who don't attend church say that the church is quick to judge and hypocritical. Wow, I attend church and believe that to be true much of the time. I could have saved Mr. May, or his backers, some serious cash. So, do I not attend church because there are some people there who need spiritual help? Do I continue my search for the congregation that is only populated with always forgiving, non-judgmental, never hypocritical faithful followers of Christ? That could be like searching for a needle in a haystack. Even if I did find it I'm afraid they wouldn't allow me to join.

Concerning the less than one in five who believe the church is boring or doesn't talk about stuff that interests them; maybe church isn't about them. Maybe it's about God. Perhaps if things of eternity aren't interesting then they need to broaden their interests beyond video games or Britney's new "bod". Don't misunderstand me,  some churches are painfully boring. No thought is given to creatively presenting the message handed down by the Creator Himself. I just can't believe that every church in Chattanooga is boring. I don't believe that even half of them are. I personally think opera is boring, but I'm not going to belittle people who enjoy it. I'm not much into "high" church either, but there are plenty of people who are. I don't think it is boring, it just isn't the way I worship the best. Besides, when did church begin to function based upon surveys? 

I wish Ryan May well. I really do. It is no easy task attempting to establish a church, no matter what you call it, constituted with people who are already disgruntled. My momma used to say, "That's just asking for a beatin". I know how hard it was here at Dallas Bay in the beginning. We had several unhappy campers come our way over the years. Most of them stayed a while and then they left unhappy again. Pastor May, you may find it's not the church they are disenchanted with at all. The problem may be within themselves. The only thing that can fix that kind of unhappiness cannot be dictated by a survey. Those people have to come to the cross. I have found that's what really attracts people who are looking for something the world cannot give. "If I be lifted up I will draw all men to myself." Just a thought. What do you think?

Pastor Ken

Pastor Ken