Monday, March 27, 2006

I have finally returned from the Sunshine state and regained internet access. Our ten day hiatus in posting has had to do with a lack of internet access and not a deficiency of topics to post.

The problem now: where to begin?

As you know we have been to the trustee meeting and appointment service of the International Mission Board in Tampa. The events of these meetings have been well documented on several blogs (SBC Outpost, 12 Witnesses, & many others). Rather than rehash these issues, I will leave you with my own observations and lessons learned from an exciting and beneficial week. In future posts, I hope to make comments and observations related to the latest policies passed by the Board of Trustees.

Lessons Learned:

1. I have learned that WE must be active in the convention if we are going to remain Southern Baptists. For many years I have believed (as I know many of you have) that I could continue my ministry in the church and let others worry about the denomination and the politics entailed. After watching the proceedings of the past few months, I can no longer fool myself with such a mindset - it is pertinent that we involve ourselves in the convention. Someone is going to lead the convention, someone is going to control the direction of the convention, someone is going to decide who will be appointed as missionaries, seminary presidents, & denominational spokesmen and leaders. Someone must steer the helm. If we’re not careful, we’ll find ourselves riding a ship to a destination we never intended.

My greatest fear: we’re halfway there!

2. I have learned that there are some amazing men serving as leaders and trustees in our convention and other young leaders passionate about missions and our convention. The highlight of our trip to Tampa was the chance to meet and spend time with some of these people. We had the privilege of eating several meals with Wade Burleson, Rick Thompson, Marty Duren, Ben Cole and others. I had the chance to meet Jason Helmbacher, a pastor from Oklahoma who made the trip to Florida to speak on behalf of some of his church members serving as IMB missionaries and Patrick Barrett, a middle school teacher waiting on his wife, Melanie, to finish her schooling as a dental hygienist before attending seminary in preparation for the international mission field. I had the opportunity to briefly speak personally to Dr. Rankin and watch the grace and humility with which he conducted himself during the plenary session (even amidst a barrage of attacks and obvious undermining carried out by some trustees).

3. I have been reminded of our great missionaries serving around the world. To say the least, it was inspiring to see 40+ people standing on the stage of Exciting Idlewild Baptist Church, telling their story of how God brought them to the place in which they stood - a place of devotion that compelled them to leave all comforts and securities behind simply to further the cause of Christ. There were engineers and homemakers, married couples, single individuals, and families; even one couple, I understand, who had a child disappear on the mission field in a former appointment who were now returning to take the Gospel to a new land. These individuals were heading all over the globe – to Muslim countries & communist countries, friendly countries and hostile lands. Some were able to share their full names, others, for security, were forced to be recognized only by initials.

These men and women stood as an inspiration and a reminder of what life and ministry is really all about. We have every convenience, afford ourselves so many luxuries and consider a sideways glance or muttered criticism persecution. These men and women had counted the cost and found that the Gospel and Jesus Christ are truly worth everything.

4. I have learned that if there is ever going to be an emphasis placed on world missions it must begin in the hearts of the pastor and staff of local churches. Meeting church leaders so passionate about missions stood as an indictment to my ministry. I have in recent months and will now continue with greater passion to make known the plight of missionaries, the history of missions and the need for future missionaries. Without this effort on my part, without my praying to such end, without the Holy Spirit using me to reach the hearts of the people God has placed in my ministry they may never be awakened to the great task before us. It was stated at the meetings that an additional 3,000 missionaries are needed to place a missionary in every unreached people group – what a joy it would be to see someone from my ministry called to fill one of these positions.

(to be continued)
posted by Rick

Friday, March 17, 2006

We have a busy week ahead. We'll be leaving this afternoon with some of our youth for Student Life Tour in Atlanta. Erwin McManus, Charlie Hall and All Things to All People will be leading us in worship. We'll head back to Hazlehurst Saturday evening.

As soon as church is dismissed on Sunday, we plan on traveling to Florida to spend a few days with our family. In between, we'll be attending the IMB Trustee Meeting in Tampa at Idlewild Baptist Church. Several have asked me what I hope to accomplish by attending these meetings. While I know my presence will have little to no affect on any of the proceedings and that the events would go along as planned without me, I do hope for a few things.

1) I hope to leave with a better understanding of the IMB and a greater passion for missions.
2) I have never witnessed an appointment ceremony and look forward to being present for this event.
3) I hope to meet up with a few people and get to know them better - beyond the blogosphere.
4) I pray we will see the board issue an apology to trustee Wade Burleson, for their actions against him at the last meeting and that some level of healing among the SBC can begin.
5) I always enjoy a trip away with my wife, this alone could convince me to go.

We hope to be able to do a little blogging from Tampa, but it will depend on the internet situation at our hotel. My parents do have access, but it's dial-up and I don't know if I can take the pain of waiting for items to download. Stay tuned.
posted by Rick

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

In May, Rick and I plan to compete together in our very first 5K race. I possess no aspirations of winning or placing, only of finishing and most importantly, getting my t-shirt. You know, first things first. The race consists of 3.1 miles of mainly flat terrain with a few rolling hills, so it shouldn't be too difficult. However, I currently do all of my running inside a gym, and that means I'm going to have to get a little practice outdoors before the run takes place. South Georgia in May is usually steamy, so I'll definitely need to get adjusted to the heat. Not to mention the gnats. Thankfully, I've already got the running while pouring small cups of water over my head thing down to a science.
posted by Christie

Monday, March 13, 2006

As I said on Heath's site, I love new musical arrangements of old, theologically rich hymns. One of my favorites, for years now, has been "Come Thou Fount" written by Robert Robinson sometime in the mid to late 1700s. However, last night as our congregation sang that tune, as we often do, I noticed an obvious alteration to the original lyrics. Where Robinson wrote about raising "Ebenezer," we instead sang "Here by grace your love has brought me." Although the latter is a great message, I see no need for the revision. Why attempt to improve upon the biblical idea of Ebenezer? I do understand the case for relevance, but what a wonderful opportunity Robinson's hymn affords us to explain the background passage in 1 Samuel 7 and God's redemptive work throughout the history of His people. Although it's just my opinion, I prefer the message contained in the original.
posted by Christie
We have been busy the past several days. Last week we realized that a nagging drainage problem in our yard had to be solved quickly. So Rick spent Thursday, Friday and Saturday carefully removing a 12 inch x about 40 foot section of sod, digging a trench, backfilling it with rock and installing a drainage pipe. I assisted through things like moral support, making sweet tea and providing interesting conversation. In the end, it was actually quite sad that we spent several hundred dollars on something that we buried.

In other news, this is the last week I will be employed at my current job. Logically, my quitting is not a great move, but we believe it's where God is leading us. Despite all the good reasons telling me I probably should work, we feel that there are better reasons why I shouldn't. I don't know what the future holds, but for now, I'm going to enjoy staying home, ironing Rick's clothes, cooking exquisite dinners, and basically refining my skills as a domestic goddess. It should be fun.
posted by Christie

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Over five thousand missionaries within the Southern Baptist Convention have committed their lives to spreading the Gospel in the United States and Canada. March 5-12 has officially been designated as the Week of Prayer for North American Missions. Each day during the emphasis the North American Mission Board highlights a particular missionary and their work. Today's feature missionaries Randy and Denise Chestnut, use non-traditional methods to reach out to their community in Cleveland, Ohio. With over 177 nations represented in Cleveland, the Chestnut's have the opportunity to spread the Gospel among a culturally diverse people. Through hosting block parties, basketball tournaments and health clinics they are able to share Christ with people who might never walk into the doors of a Cleveland church.

The Chestnut's along with the rest of our NAMB missionaries are supported each year by the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering. The national goal for this year's offering is 56 million dollars, of which 100% will go to support mission work in the United States and Canada - an area where statistics tell us that three out of four people do not know Christ. I encourage you to give and pray. Both actions are a necessity for our missionaries, and a great priviledge for us.
posted by Christie
Yesterday was an important day in the IMB Controversy. Chairman Hatley released several documents related to the policy changes - in which he attempts to defend the board's position. I have read most of the articles and must say that I am even more convinced that the actions of the board do not have a strong biblical foundation. While I have no doubt that many hours went into studying these policies, it seems to me that the logic behind their positions does not completely line up with Scripture. While I would love to take the day to defend my own positions on these matters and post them for all the world to read, I must prepare for the Bible studies I have to teach tonight. Be looking for more on these matters in the very near future. In the mean time, follow Marty's links to the articles and read each for yourself.
posted by Rick
After resisting for quite some time, I have finally given into the intense pressure and created a MySpace account. Now, what's next?
posted by Christie

Friday, March 03, 2006

For lack of a better word, I think I experienced a full fledged "Charlie Moment" the other day.

Here's how it went.

Guy next to me on the treadmill: (speaking of his much younger, muscular friend) My buddy decided not to work-out with me today.
Me: Oh.
Guy: He's being lazy.
Me: Oh, really.
Guy: Yeah. And I don't look quite as good with my shirt off as he does. So I'm keeping it on.
Me: Okay.
Guy: He always wore one until he started getting ripped. Then he had to show off.
Me: If I had worked that hard I would work-out without a shirt on, too.

I turned red, the guy looked away, and I decided to not even try and dig myself out of that one. Hopefully, he understood what I meant, and not what I said.

Oh, God, guard my lips.
posted by Christie

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Another new link, Veritatis Amatori. This site is written by a friend from college and in his own words includes "blatantly reformed ramblings posted with undetermined frequency." You should definitely check it out, looks like he's gonna have some great stuff.
posted by Christie
I've noted before that I don't really like to take medicine. And I especially don't like to take medicine prescribed to other people. That is a major no-no as far as I'm concerned. However, yesterday I ended up breaking the pharmaceutical cardinal rule and received a good reminder of why I won't ever do it again.

The story begins with my dentist appointment. Well, actually with my heart murmur. I have one, so I'm required to take antibiotics a few hours before any dental procedure, due to an escalated risk of bacteria from my mouth entering the bloodstream and causing endocarditis and possibly death - a long, violent and painful one I'm told. The problem is that I forgot about getting a prescription filled and ended up taking some antibiotics that Rick had. However, about 15 minutes after ingesting the 2000 milligrams, I was walking into the gym and it hit me that I was allergic to the medicine I just swallowed. I tried not to panic, assumed I would be fine, attempted not to go hypochondriac on everyone, and decided to just monitor myself for any signs of a reaction. And what are the signs you ask? Redness of the skin and difficulty breathing. Well, after running the third mile on the treadmill, there's a high probability that I would suffer from both of those problems. The gym might not have been the greatest place to keep a check on myself.

However, despite the enormous odds stacked against me, I burned about 500 calories, got my teeth cleaned, hopefully averted a deadly heart infection and my windpipe has yet to swell shut. Miracles never cease.
posted by Christie