Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Rick Warren quote

I received an email from a church member with a portion of a transcript of an interview with Rick Warren, conducted by Paul Bradshaw. There was a quote in it that really resonated with me. Warren said this:

"When I get up in the morning, I sit on the side of my bed and say, God, if I don't get anything else done today, I want to know You more and love You better. God didn't put me on earth just to fulfill a to-do list. He's more interested in what I am than what I do. That's why we're called human beings, not human doings."

When I used to teach Christian ethics in Argentina at the International Baptist Theological Seminary, in one of the introductory classes I would always do a little exercise with the students about the relationship between being and doing. It's based on the age-old debate or question, does who I am determine what I do, or does what I do determine who I am? I would put the two options to a vote before any discussion to see how many students favored which of the two options. After giving some examples of cases that seemed to support each of the alternatives and some lively discussions, the consensus reached by the class generally was that the two questions represent a false dichotomy. The truth is probably somewhere in between the two extremes and represents a dynamic tension between them.

I can both argue that I do what I do because of who I am, and that I am who I am because of a history or pattern of doing what I do. Warren's quote above emphasizes a bit more the need to focus on who I am in relationship to God. It's not about impressing God by what I attempt to do in His service as much as it is delighting myself in His person and presence. That's a good reminder in the middle of a busy week of ministry.

Bob Roberts

I mentioned a while back having attended an outstanding missions conference at Frederick Blvd. Baptist Church in St. Joseph, MO entitled Forum One-21. One of the really top-notch speakers featured was Bob Roberts. His message at the conference is now available on-line here. Thanks, Micah and crew, for making that available.

Dr. Roberts will also be the featured speaker at the annual meeting of the Blue River-Kansas City Baptist Association on Sunday evening, October 11th, at FBC Raytown, MO. More information about the gathering is available at the association's website.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Writing History

I realized I hadn't shared an update in quite some time about the status of my major ongoing project which is trying to get a history of our church written in time for its 150th anniversary celebration next April. I've found a different possibility for a printer than the one I was originally considering using that will give me a couple of more months of writing and editing time than I had first anticipated. I'm grateful for that and will certainly need the extra time I'm sure. As it is, I have finished reading all 150 years worth of the minutes (minus the 10 years that are missing because they were stored in a church clerk's home and were destroyed in a house fire) and am writing a first draft. I'm up to 1917 and in my fourth chapter in my chronological approach, so I am making progress. It does take a lot of time which at times can be a scarce commodity with my other pastoral responsibilities and my part-time job with the Baptist General Convention of Missouri.

Speaking of the latter, we had an excellent quarterly board meeting of the BGCM yesterday in Jefferson City at the FBC there. I was privileged to share a brief report, including a Powerpoint presentation, about the most recent trip to Guatemala at the end of July. There's a great deal of interest among our board in the ongoing partnership with Guatemalan Baptists. I took advantage as well of the time to twist the arm of one of the pastors from the St. Louis area and encourage him to join us for the next trip in January to Guatemala to conduct leadership training conferences.

Today I'm trying to catch up on a little cleaning around the house, hope to catch a bit of the game between UT and Wyoming this afternoon, and then will go and see my wife's production of "Cheaper by the Dozen" at her school tonight. She said the two previous shows have gone well. I missed them because of other commitments, including going to the youngest son's homecoming game last night. He's the junior drum major in the marching band.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Finishing Well

The following is my latest article for our senior adult newsletter, the Joyful Tidings.

Is there an upper age limit for being a disciple? By that I mean is there a time that we reach in our lives when we’ve either gotten sufficiently old or been a Christian long enough that we can somehow unplug and coast for the rest of the way home? These questions are of such a nature that by merely asking them, one automatically knows the right response. We’re never so old and certainly never so spiritually mature that we can rest on our laurels as Christians and cease striving to know Him better and live for Him more fully. While all of us would undoubtedly agree with the truths of those statements, somehow in actual practice we’re tempted at times to do just that. Perhaps you’ve been an active church member for most or all of your life and you’ve rationalized in your mind that it’s now someone else’s turn to serve, to give, to teach, or whatever other ministry you’ve been doing.

I’m not saying of course that we as a congregation don’t need to develop and utilize younger folks in leadership roles, for certainly we must do that. What I am insisting is that I cannot find a single example in the pages of Scripture of an individual who decided that it was time for him or her to kick back and relax and leave the responsibilities for worship and service to someone else. Rather, it seems that advancing age only solidified and strengthened the resolve of these folks to utilize whatever time they had left to serve God and advance His Kingdom’s causes. This isn’t to say of course that one should never engage in recreation and relaxation, for we know that these are beneficial for our bodies which are the temple of the Holy Spirit. What I do believe we find in the Bible though is that individuals in their later years who had walked with God for a long time never seemed to wane in their level of commitment to Him. They seem to have taken to heart the words of Jesus in Matt. 6:33 where He said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

It’s a question of priorities in the final analysis, and I trust that each of you will desire that your life count for the Lord right up until the time He calls you home or when Jesus returns for His church. Jesus said, “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” Keep serving Him faithfully!