Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Senior Adult newsletter

In the absence of anything else to post these days, I decided to include my latest article for our senior adult monthly newsletter, Joyful Tidings.

With snow on the ground and temperatures hovering around 1 degree in these final days of 2008, some are probably eagerly anticipating a break in the cold weather. Unfortunately, unless your travel plans call for a trip to the southern hemisphere or the Rio Grande Valley of south Texas, you will probably have to face a couple of more months at least of frigid weather here in Missouri. I realize the extreme cold temperatures force many of our senior adults to stay inside and curtail some of their regular activities, but I trust that you won’t let the cold rob you of the warmth of fellowshipping with fellow believers as opportunities present themselves to do so.

January signals the start of a new year and fresh possibilities of serving the Lord in creative ways. With each new year, we also face the prospects of unexpected changes in our lives. We never know when a sudden shift in circumstances will affect our own life or that of our family. For that reason it’s always wise to welcome each new day with a prayer of thanksgiving for the gift of life itself and the strength to wake up and face the day’s challenges. With faith in the goodness and mercy of God and by the power of His indwelling Holy Spirit, we can confront whatever situations we meet with the confidence that our God loves us and will walk with us through it all.

The year 2009 also marks the 400th anniversary of Baptists as a Christian movement. While there are literally dozens of different Baptist denominations today, most church historians trace the beginnings of Baptists back to a small congregation of English exiles who had fled to Amsterdam in search of religious liberty and there founded the first Baptist church in 1609. Undoubtedly there will be opportunities in this coming year to reflect on our history as Baptists and most certainly to pray that God will continue to bless and use us for His glory and the extension of His kingdom. My prayer is that each of you will experience God’s blessings and nearness in this coming year.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Let There Be Light

While listening to the radio the other day, I heard Point of Grace's arrangement of "Let There Be Light." I had heard it before when our music minister sang it, but had forgotten the song. I searched and found a You Tube video of it that I really enjoyed. I hope you do as well.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Upside Down

I'm indebted to Art Rogers for the following video link. It's awesome. I hope you enjoy it.

Upside Down from Pace Hartfield on Vimeo.

Friday, December 12, 2008

BGCM Board Meeting

Today was the quarterly board meeting of the Baptist General Convention of Missouri. We met at the First Baptist Church in Jefferson City for our gathering. It's a wonderful bunch of folks with great interest in ministry and missions and these encounters are always delightful. There are never any cross words, negative attitudes, or political maneuvering at our board meetings--just sharing of reports on the status of our Great Commission Initiatives which include leadership development, church planting, congregational health, missions mobilization, and resources and relationships, as well as looking at financial reports and other business matters. My fellow staff members of the BGCM are an awesome bunch of men and women and each of us are bivocational. We don't have a single fulltime staffer working for the convention and we consider that to be a big plus. Each team leader serves in the area of their giftedness and strengths, and that makes for a wonderful dynamic.

I was able to share with the group about 3 upcoming trips to Guatemala in the first 4 months of 2009. Four of us will be traveling there Jan. 5-10 for the latest round of leadership training conferences. I received a phone call while I was down in Texas over the Thanksgiving holidays and our partnership liaison asked if it would be possible for us to cover the expenses of some additional participants. Some new missions have been formed and their leaders would also like to attend the training. The result is that we're expecting 82 pastors and leaders for the January event--the largest group to date.

I purchased airline tickets yesterday for 9 members of our church here in Lee's Summit that will be traveling down Feb. 7-14 for a similar project to that which we did last year. We'll be working in the town of San Marcos this time. I've never been there but the pastors of two Baptist churches there have been coming to our training events. We'll be speaking in schools again as we did last year as well as conducting VBS for the churches. This year we'll focus on Adult Sunday School leadership training in the evenings. Our minister of education is joining me and will lead those sessions.

The FBC of Farmington looks like they will be taking 12 or 13 folks to work in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala the last week of April. Their pastor is on the BGCM board and I was able to visit with him a bit today about their progress in preparing for the mission trip.

We also talked some today about a major event here in the Kansas City area on April 2-4 of next year called the Baptist Border Crossing. Baptists of all stripes and varieties will be gathering at Pleasant Valley Baptist Church in Liberty, MO for a three-day event that's in a sense a follow-up to the New Baptist Covenant meeting of last year in Atlanta. We'll be hearing from Tony Campolo, David Coffey of the BWA, David Goatley of the North American Bapt. Fellowship and Pres. Jimmy Carter among others. It promises to be a great gathering.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Jesus is Better than Santa

When I first saw the subject line above from a church member in my email inbox, my immediate thought was "Oh no. Another culture warrior gone amok." To my surprise, the piece was a thoughtful contrast between what Santa offers us and what Jesus provides for us. I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I did.

Jesus is Better than Santa

Santa lives at the North Pole.
JESUS is everywhere.
Santa rides in a sleigh
JESUS rides on the wind and walks on the water.
Santa comes but once a year
JESUS is an ever present help.
Santa fills your stockings with goodies
JESUS supplies all your needs.
Santa comes down your chimney uninvited
JESUS stands at your door and knocks.. and then enters your heart.
You have to stand in line to see Santa
JESUS is as close as the mention of His name.
Santa lets you sit on his lap
JESUS lets you rest in His arms.
Santa doesn't know your name, all he can say is "Hi little boy or girl, What's your name?"
JESUS knew our name before we did. Not only does He know our name, He knows our address too. He knows our history and future and He even knows how many hairs are on our heads.
Santa has a belly like a bowl full of jelly
JESUS has a heart full of love.
All Santa can offer is HO HO HO
JESUS offers health, help and hope.
Santa says "You better not cry"
JESUS says "Cast all your cares on me for I care for you.
Santa's little helpers make toys
JESUS makes new life, mends wounded hearts, repairs broken homes and builds mansions.
Santa may make you chuckle but
JESUS gives you joy that is your strength.
While Santa puts gifts under your tree
JESUS became our gift and died on the tree.
It's obvious there is really no comparison.
We need to remember WHO Christmas is all about.
We need to put Christ back in Christmas.
Jesus is still the reason for the season.

May the Lord Bless and Watch over you and your loved ones this Christmas 2008
And may He prosper and bless the work of your hands in the New Year.
God bless you all.