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May 2009 entries

Rested but Still Pale

It’s good to talk to you all again. I skipped last week’s blog entry because my family and I were vacating. If you were at church for the last message of “Couch vs. Cross” you understand what I mean about “vacating.” We traveled South and East to Charleston, South Carolina. We actually stayed outside of the city on an island called the Isle of Palms and in the resort community, “Wild Dunes.” We love Savannah and Charleston was always brought up in conversations as the sister city of Savannah. So from Monday afternoon until Saturday morning were out of Town. How was it, you ask? Thanks for asking. It was for the most part “just awright dawg.” We arrived the same time a tropical depression settled only a few miles off the Atlantic coast. It was the coldest week in May that anyone could remember. Those offering that tidbit of history would add, “but it supposed to get warm and sunny by the weekend”; not very encouraging words for those of us leaving that very weekend.  Anyone who has had the misfortune of being with me when there is nothing to do is grimacing right now. I get bored quickly. When I get bored I also get cranky. When I get cranky I either become sullen and depressed or loud and critical. As the wind blew torrents of rain just outside our patio my temperament swung almost as rapidly as the palm trees. I paused to thank the dear Lord that I was me and not someone imprisoned in the condo with me.

This brings me to the topic at hand. I am basically an unhappy person. It’s partly because I am so goal driven that if I am not competing at something I’m miserable. That corresponds to my primary personality type, the powerful choleric. Choleric people are goal driven and competitive. They are often happiest when working. They vacation poorly; except when there is much activity and opportunities for golf, volleyball, croquet or badminton. In such athletic pastimes there are sufficient opportunities for fist pumps and victory laps.

 

I am secondarily a melancholy personality. This person is also very goal driven, but is negative to boot. We, of the melancholy type, are more than a little annoyed when things don’t go according to plan. (I can tell right now many of you are dropping to your knees and praying for my family and staff before proceeding any further.) So with nothing to do and all my plans dashed against the rocks it was the perfect storm.

For me to be happy I need to be busy. You have time to relax when you die is my philosophy. When I was a much younger man successive strings of projects and activities were my bread and butter. In college I was a full time student, a congressional intern and I worked second shift, full time, before going home to study. I did not tire and I was very happy. Now turn the clock ahead a few decades. My mind still wants to stay busy, but my body is crying for rest. As Jesus put it in the Garden of Gethsemane, “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”  Which brings me to another source of frustration. Age. I hate getting older. Why? Because it is something I can’t control. Remember I am a choleric personality and we want to control everything. It annoys me not to be able to do the things as quickly and effortlessly as I once did.

So, I get to the office after Memorial Day and everyone asks how the vacation went. Without going into details I told them about the weather and the lengthy confinement to the room. Most dropped their head and moved away swiftly before anyone got hurt. One person, however, had the brashness to say, “The Lord must have known your body needed rest and otherwise you would never have gotten any.” Don’t you just hate it when someone plays the God card when you want to be miserable? I thought about it and you know they were right. There’s no way I would have rested that much if it were up to me. I would have filled every moment from daylight til dark with activity. I would have come home exhausted. The effect would not have been immediate, but soon I would be tired, cranky, and miserable. I would have not only been mentally fatigued but physically as well. The Lord certainly knows best. So thanks Lord for the rest, whether I wanted it or not. Thanks to all of you for your prayers as you asked God to provide rest for me and my family. Unfortunately you ticked a lot of other people off all over the Eastern seaboard who just wanted to get some sun.

Still sulking but rested, Ken


Does Everything Have a Price?

Ok, so I'm reading along in one my favorite magazines when I notice a provocative title, "Virginity For Sale." If the magazine were Cosmo or even Men's Vogue it may not have caught my attention. But this was in Leadership. This magazine has as a subtitle "'Real Ministry in a Complex World." So it's written for church leaders and while it may be a little radical for us men of the cloth it is terribly tame for mainstream America. I soon discovered this article wasn't in the classified section but in a part of the magazine called "Toolkit." Upon closer observation I found it to be a fascinating article on declining moral values. Here is part of what I read.

"Natalie, a 22-year-old woman from San Diego, California, decided to fund her post-graduate education by selling her virginity to the highest bidder. The idea came from her sister, who was able to pay for her education after working as a prostitute for just three weeks. "I know a lot of people will condemn me for this," Natalie says, "but I don't have a problem with that."

Here's the amazing part of the story, at least to me:"Since announcingng the auction, Natalie has received offers from over 10,000 men. The highest bid came in at over $3.7 million. Even Natalie was surprised. "It's shocking that men will pay so much for someone's virginity, which isn't even prized so highly anymore," she says." 

Ok, ready for the most surprising part? She plans to use the income from selling her virginity to pay for a degree in Marriage and Family Counseling!

The question is: can everything be assigned a monetary value? Does anything have inherent worth that cannot be bought? In the world of commerce everything has a price. The price is determined by the simple truth that value is determined by what the seller is willing to receive and a willing buyer will pay. My opinion is that somethings are more valuable than money, any amount of money. The Bible teaches us that there are things that are inherently valuable. God cannot be bought. Salvation cannot be bought. Some things have higher prices than anyone would ever be able to pay. Some things are not commodities and are infinitely valuable. One such thing would be a human being. Human beings are created in God's image and have immeasurable value. People should not be abused, discarded, abandoned or exchanged as mere commodities. Life should be valued and regarded as a gift from God. Whether it is the life of an unborn child or a handicapped man or woamn, every life is valuable beyond measure. 

We cannot allow ourselves to assign monetary worth to sacred things. Any price on a gift from God  de-values the gift. I am disappointed that men would take advantage of the girl's offer to lose her virginity for a price, but I'm more disappointed she would sell something of infinite value to pay her college tuition. Get a loan!

Pastor Ken             


What Else Would You Do With A Jeep?

Jeep I have wanted a Jeep since I was old enough to drive. My first car was not a Jeep but a 1966 Ford Falcon. The Falcon was a reasonable $325 and ran like a sewing machine. As a matter of fact, it sounded like one too. My second car was not a Jeep either. It was a 1969 Firebird. Hot car! So hot it blew up on the way back from Carson Newman College just south of Athens on I-75. So you're guessing my third car was a Jeep. Nope, wrong again. The third car was a beautiful land yacht called a 1969 Chevrolet Caprice. That thing had the smoothest seats I ever sat on then or since. I won't bore you with the many cars since, but I will just say none of them were Jeeps. 

A couple of years ago I saw a car on the road that just demanded my attention. It was a Jeep, but not just any Jeep. It had four doors. This thing was awesome. The guy had the top panels out and he was enjoying some rays. The bug hit me again as hard as a june bug on a motorcycle. I soon traded my Yukon for a Jeep. It was a 4 door silver Sahara. It has the nice wheels and two tops. It even has an in the dash GPS with satellite radio. Yeah, baby, that's what I'm talking about! 

The great thing about Jeeps is that other Jeep owners wave at you on the street and walk over to talk to you at the gas station. There are Jeep clubs and jamborees. There is Jeep clothing and there is Jeep art. It is an entire culture. Kind of like owning a Harley, but less expensive. (You know HD really stands for hundred dollars) So here's where I'm going with this. The first time I was preparing to take my Jeep off-road to do some scouting for deer season my wife said, "You're not taking your car out in the woods, are you?" I understood where she was coming from. Most 4 door Jeeps I had seen were spit polished and rolling on shiny tires with high gloss wheels. They were pampered and garage kept. So I understood her question. It had been formed in her mind by what she had observed. In effect, Jeeps were losing their distinct identity by people who refused to use them for the purpose for which they were made. Just the other day I pulled up to a propane tank to have the young attendant fill my gas tank for the grill. He said, "Man, it wouldn't do for me to have one of those. I would have scratches and dents all over that thing." It just so happened that I had just washed it for the weekend and had no immediate plans to go off-road. I quickly defended the honor of my Jeep by saying that it wasn't usually this clean. I told him that I often took it out into the woods and this was the first time it had been clean in a long while. He looked at me and said, "Really, man, you take it off-road?" I suddenly realized that this warped thinking had trickled down to our youth. Where is the world headed when an all American, red-blooded, young man believes the vehicle that helped win WWII should be coddled and kept on the pavement?  

A fate similar to that of the Jeep has befallen the church as well. I know because not only do I love Jeeps, but I love the church too. I have devoted much of my waking hours for the last 20 years, with the help of many others,  building Dallas Bay from where it began to where it is today. Of course, I can't take any credit, it has been led by the Spirit and founded on the Word's of Christ. I just have a lot of sweat equity in this place. Still, I'm concerned how the purpose of the church has changed in the mind of people since it began. Just as the Jeep was used as a vehicle to win the war, the church was also established for a fight. Christ taught that the church would actually battle the forces of hell; and win! The church is to be known by her bloodstains and bruises more than her wood trim and tapestry. The church was never intended to be a place of comfort but of sacrifice. Her early leaders did not point the members to safety, but they did sound the trumpet that led to battle. Classes were not originally about how you could prosper but they were about survival. Early church-goers would not complain about the length of the service when they knew that trouble and persecution were waiting just outside the door. What happened? When did we decide not to take the church off-road? When did we lose the purpose for our existence?

Somewhere, and I'm not sure if I can point to a date, we became more interested in self-indulgence than self-sacrifice. Church leaders became more interested in crowds than commitment. Someone decided that width is more important than depth and now we are suffering from this misconception. The church is pretty; it's just not effective. Any suggestion to take the church "off-road" is met with criticism. One pastor told me that a ministry to inner city children was scrapped when one of the members complained the kids were leaving handprints on the walls. Another resigned over one committee fighting another committee over the placement of flowers in the church. The church has become spit polished and garage kept. So why is my denomination losing ground instead of growing? Could it be we were not created to be clean but bloodied from the field of battle. If we are the body of Christ then we are to be nail scarred and bruised. Instead of asking how to become great maybe we should be wrapping a towel around our waist and washing each others feet. I can't begin to list the ways this may play out in ministry. We have a mindset to change before we can change our actions. Jesus commanded that we go out and compel them to come in. To go out means to go where people live and not just expect them to visit us because we have a pretty building.  

Churches, like Jeeps, are losing their identity because people want to use them for other purposes than why they were formed. I suggest taking your church off-road. Sling some mud! Not at each other but at the enemy. And if we get mud on one another then we should grab a towel, get on our knees and wash it off. Jesus did.

Looking for dirt roads,

Pastor Ken (aka Bubba)