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March 2010 entries

Easter Sunday is both Exciting and Burdensome

I just finished preparing the first draft of Sunday's message. It may be the most important message I write all year. Sunday, being Easter, there will be people attending church all over the world, including Dallas Bay, that may not return until the same time next year. That makes my attempt at sharing the gospel with them both exciting and burdensome at the same time. Since we have abbreviated services on Easter to handle the crowds, I attempt to be more succinct with my words. This years message will be in two parts. One near the beginning of the service and the other near the close. I thought I would include the personal account of my visit to Calvary and the traditional site of Jesus burial at the end of the second message segment. Because of the shortness of time I may have to prune the story Sunday morning on the fly so I thought I would share it with you in its entirety here.

 

As I wandered down the via de la rosa in old Jerusalem, I almost did not know where I was. Surrounded by shops that sold wooden crosses, prayer shawls and pictures of Michael Jackson, I didn’t realized I was walking the path that led Jesus from Pilate’s courtyard to the cross. Finally our guide, Elon, gathered the tour group near a wall and pointed to a building and a tall doorway. There is Golgotha. Where, I thought. This was just a big and ornate building with hundreds of people bumping into each other. This 1,700 year old building was built by the mother of Constantine the Great.  Entering the building I walked up a dozen stone steps to a rocky outcropping of stone. There among golden lanterns, statues and pictures of Mary, burning candles and a Roman Catholic altar was a hole in the ground. The hole was gold plated and under the altar. I reached under the altar to touch the spot where the cross of Jesus was supposedly fixed in the ground. I felt oddly moved and disturbed at the same time. I was moved because I was perhaps standing where the blood of my Savior dropped onto the ground beneath my feet. Disturbed because it had been covered with gold and marble and tackiness.

To get to the traditional place of His burial you don’t even leave the building. An elevated stone path leads to the doorway of the most elaborate tomb I had ever seen. Hundreds of pilgrims from all over the world waited in line for hours just to pass the priest guarding the door and spend a moment inside. We stood in line for a while and then most of slipped out of the line just to observe from a distance. How weird it was to see the place where millions of people have waited in line to see the place Jesus rose from death to life guarded by a priest. How ornament after ornament had been placed over the tomb so the simple hole in the rock was no longer visible to the public. To me it became an icon to how we have covered the beautiful simple story of the gospel with man made rules and rituals. Even in our attempt to honor Him we obscure Him from those who need to see Him most.

Pray with me that this Sunday pastors and preachers in every church and every denomination uncover the simple truth of the gospel for those who are straining to see him through all the clutter. 

See you Sunday!  


DBBC First Lady Delays Beginning of Government Session

Yesterday Marilyn and I were afforded the opportunity to visit the Tennessee State Capitol wher I had been invited to open the session in prayer. It's really a funny story. There was miscommunication between myself and the representative who had asked me to pray. I was in a hotel lobby with my wife waiting on him to pick us up while he was in the capitol waiting on me to pray. We finally connected about 5 in the evening when I was to be standing on the floor of the House of Representatives doing my thing. I was actually outside of the building looking for a way in (metal detectors, guards and the whole nine yards.) We ran down a hallway and into a private elevator to get to my appointed place while the Tennessee State Legislature was waiting on me to begin. I finally made it to the floor and was introduced to the Speaker of the House, Kent Williams, when he asked me had my wife traveled with me. I told him she had, but somehow I had lost her as I ran for the private elevator. He told the clerk to hold off beginning the session until Marilyn was found and brought into the chamber. About 5 minutes later I saw her in the back of the room being ushered in past security and into a seat. The speaker looked at the clerk and said "You may now begin." Wow, is the first lady of Dallas Bay influential or what? The gears of government were shifted into neutral until she was present.

Reminds me of the time when Hillary and Bill Clinton had returned back to her hometown in Arkansas while he was still president. Sitting in the back of the presidential limo they passed by an old garage where a former boyfriend of the first lady was pumping gas. Bill leaned over to his wife with a smile and said, "Just imagine where you would be if you had married him instead of me." Without blinking an eye Hillary said with a smile, "I would still be married to the president, but you honey, would be pumping gas." Now, I know how Bill feels.

If you would like to see a video of my prayer in Nashville you can find it at this link.

http://tnga.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=2662

Have a great day!   


Soles4Souls Opportunity

Our Sunday evening casual and contemporary service called Refuge is committed to being involved in serving others in the name of Christ. It is a core value of who we are. We are consisitently looking to get this done. On Sunday evening March 28 that is exactly what we will be doing and I wonder if some of you would like to get involved?

We are going to partner with Soles4souls and send our shoes to Haiti. We are asking everyone to take their shoes off when they come to worship along with $1 to handle shipping. They can be gently worn or new shoes. Since most of us are adults at Refuge we are also encouraging people to bring a pair of children's shoes as well along with a dollar. These can be anything from Crocs to Dockers. Athletic shoes are ok and so are sandals. They just need to be shoes you would be willing to wear yourself. (The definition of gently worn.)

I have a writing on the wall in my office from Romans 10:15, "How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!" So don't be ashamed of showing your feet. They are beautiful when they are naked so that you can clothe the feet of those who need "good things!" We would love to have you at the service. It begins at 5 p.m. on Sundays in the Refuge which is the second of our youth buildings on campus. If you can't make it you can still contribute. Just drop them off at Dallas Bay anytime Monday thru Thursday from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. Or you can drop them off at the beginning of Refuge Sunday evening and go on your barefoot merry way.


Where is the Shell Answer Man?

Some of you are old enough to remember the iconic figure of the "Shell Answer Man" of the 1970's. If you had car trouble you could take it to the "answer man" and he could help solve it. He also had tips on household problems as well. For you trivia fans the actor who played the Shell answer man was Don Morrow.  Mr. Morrow was the announcer for "Ozzie and Harriet" and "Gunsmoke" in the 1950's. That whole idea of  "if you just find the right expert you can solve any problem" is still prevalent today. Unfortunately, the truth is that there is not always a Shell answer man for every situation. I know I have been unable to find him lately. As a Bible teacher and pastor many people look at me to solve their problems, or at least direct them to someone who can. The "spiritual" answer is to "go to the Lord" for the answer. Sometimes that is accurate and timely advice. Sometimes it's just a cop out. Before you begin to cast stones at me or consider exorcism let me explain.

Our natural tendency is to expect that if something isn't working out then there is a problem to be fixed. For instance, your spouse is talking about leaving you for another person. You immediately begin looking for answers that will rectify the situation. It may be that you have not shown enough affection or have been too attentive and the person seems smothered by your actions. So you begin to change your behavior in hopes that you can save the relationship. Or you may perceive that it is the people they are hanging around that is causing your spouse to drift away. So you try and introduce more wholesome and like-minded couples into their life. They still leave. What's the deal? Why couldn't you fix it?

Maybe it's a wayward child that keeps you up at night. Perhaps financial troubles have you pulling out your hair. So you seek counseling for your child and a second job to get out of debt. Why? Because there has to be an answer to the problem! There is always a reason right? If we just find the person with the answer we can fix it, right? Sometimes yes. Often times no. I have set with parents of dying children and couldn't fix it. I have talked with couples who are breaking up and could not offer answers. So let me sum it up the best I can. I don't have solutions to the problems but I think I have begun to get a handle on the reasons.

Sinful world. Poor choices. Lack of personal responsibility. Evil. Ignorance.

These are all contributors to our dilemma in a world gone bad. Sometimes they may be self inflicted and at other times we are just caught in the cross fire. Either way we get wounded. God is not unaware. He knows and cares what we go through. He has a promise. That promise has to be clung to by faith and not by sight. When we can't find the answer or anyone has the answer; God has a purpose.

Romans 8:28 (HCSB)
28 We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.

Sometimes this has to be enough. When God is silent His promises are still true.

Pastor Ken


Soap Box Time

Soap box time. I have been accustomed to jeers and sneers from the lost crowd. Baptist preachers are the butt of many jokes. (Some of them are actually pretty funny.) So, OK I'm a big boy. I can handle their jokes and suspicious looks. However, there is another group that is growing in popularity that does get under my skin. They can best be described as religious arm chair quarterbacks. They typically rant and rave on blog sites. Sometimes they can be found on the radio dial and more and more are finding their way onto tv. They have no accountability and make their living blasting churches, Christianity and particularly pastors. They have a narrow view of things. Plainly put, anyone who does not fit their mold is wrong and probably going to hell. Which brings me to my reason for writing.

Saturday I was listening to the radio as I enjoyed one of the few sunny days afforded us lately. I turned on a Christian radio station just in time to hear the host ask his caller, "So, is your pastor going to hell?" WHAT? It seems that was the theme of his show for that week. The caller answered that indeed he thought he was. Why? I wanted to know. Trying to listen without my clinched fists tightening on the Jeep's steering wheel I waited for his answer. The caller said his pastor was going to hell because he did not let those "Sodomites" have it each week. It seems this man had written a book on the subject of homosexuals splitting hell wide open, but not before they doomed the rest of America to hell with them. It also seemed it was the pastors (plural) fault. If we were just more bold and condemned these sinners from the pulpit week after week then the problem would be solved. I waited for the host to make some intelligent rebuttal like, "Don't you think your preacher should be preaching the whole counsel of God instead of picking on one group of people?" or "I agree homosexuality is a sin, but shouldn't all sins, including backbiting and slander be given equal billing?" Instead, the host said something like, "Amen, brother, these panty waisted preachers are afraid to offend anyone fearing they might lose some of their dollars." ARRRGGGHHH!

The next caller was certain his pastor was going to heaven, but wasn't sure many others were. The host began to call into question the action of this man's minister to the point where he too began to doubt. I'm thinking, "What is this guy trying to accomplish and what is his motivation?" Who appopinted this man watchdog over men who have been called by God to serve Him and feed His sheep. Doesn't he realize that every week pastors pray, study and pray some more so they may present the gospel in such a way that people's lives may be changed for eternity. They struggle speaking to children and adults in the same room. There are folks there who didn't finish the first grade and those with degrees in nuclear physics. I do not know a single pastor who is afraid to preach the truth without compromise. I'm sure there are some, but I don't run with them. No pastor I know shys away from controversial topics just because they are afraid of losing money from the offering plate. I just know pastors who hurt with people who hurt. Men who don't believe that hatred and prejudice should be spewed from the pulpit. They know that if America is going to hell that it not the flagrant sins of a few, but it is the unconfessed sin in all of our hurts that is hurling us toward the black abyss. I looked and listened for the programs phone number so that I might call and give him a... pastor's point of view. (Whew, I cleaned that last statement up before you read it.) I couldn't find it and it is probably a good thing. I would have probably lost my religion right there on the air and given the man something else to balst us about. So instead I just prayed the host would lose his voice, or the station would lose power, or...Just kidding!