Thursday, May 27, 2010

Encouraging News from Guatemala

I wanted to share some good news I received today from Brady Garcia, who at the start of this year moved to Santa Cruz del Quiche in Guatemala to begin a new church. When our initial team from First Baptist Lee's Summit went to Cantel in 2008, he was pastoring a church there. Brady has attended each of the training sessions that the BGCM has conducted in Quetzaltenango in Western Guatemala since 2007 and always is quick to share how the training has been applicable in his local ministry setting.

Brady writes, “Here in Santa Cruz del Quiche, everything is going well, thanks to God. This week we began five cells or small groups. I am working with a group of alcoholics on Wednesdays with 6 attending. Very soon I will begin to offer Bible classes to the children of two schools as we did in Cantel, since I think I have a little bit of experience in this field. The families that are attending church are very committed and we have our services scheduled for Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays with Sunday School and worship in the afternoon. The children meet separately, although we’re lacking some materials for them, but God will provide. Also this week, a group of youth will begin meeting on Fridays. As you can see, brother, I am very busy (thanks be to God), and the best part of it is that here I am putting into practice all that I’ve learned in the training sessions that you all have come to share. Blessings, brother, and I hope to see you in July.”

It's such an encouragement to receive a note like this and hear how God is blessing and using the visits of teams from our churches and the ongoing training sessions to help equip Guatemalan leaders for their ministries. My next trip there will be July 5-9, and our pastor, Blake McKinney, will be going with me as a conference leader. I know that he will be a tremendous blessing to the leaders there as he shares with them.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

How People Recognize Authentic Christians

Barry Howard has a great article (in truth it reads like a devotional) today on EthicsDaily that addresses the title of this post. In the process of reading it, I also discovered the origin of a phrase that I've heard all of my life and never knew its source--"the real McCoy."

I hope you'll take the time to read the article. You can find it here.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Barna on Truth

Turns out that George Barna wrote a blog post on Truth the day after I had written and posted my previous entry on the same topic. I particularly liked the quote from George Orwell that Barna cited: “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” Maybe we're not quite in a time of universal deceit, but I'm afraid we're not far from it.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Truth - A Candidate for the Endangered Species List?

What ever happened to honesty? Last time I checked, the Ten Commandments still contain the words, “Thou shalt not lie.” Unfortunately, lying seems to have become a national pastime, rivaling baseball in its popularity and certainly surpassing it in terms of the numbers who engage in the practice. That point was driven home again this week by a news story about a Harvard student who had gained admission to the prestigious university by falsifying transcripts, submitting bogus SAT scores, fabricating recommendations from professors, and plagiarizing the work of others. Lest you think that this is some isolated case or limited strictly to the secular world, multiple stories in recent weeks and months have also disclosed incidents of pastors and church leaders who have embellished their resumes—claiming to have attended schools or obtained degrees when they had not in fact done so. A prominent Baptist university president is currently under investigation for apparent false claims made about his upbringing as a Muslim terrorist.

What would prompt someone to make a false claim about their own identity or qualifications? Some might suggest the desperation to get ahead and succeed without paying the necessary cost in terms of time and study. Ultimately, it comes back to a display of the basic sin nature that infects us all and presents us with the temptation to build ourselves up in the eyes of others. In Ephesians 4, Paul repeatedly urges us to practice truthfulness. We’re to speak the truth in love (4:15), to put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth (4:24), and to speak truth with our neighbor because we’re members of one another (4:25). The transforming power of the gospel is to change us as we reflect God’s light: “for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth” (Eph. 5:9).

You probably remember your parents telling you as you grew up, “Honesty is the best policy.” It really is. May the truth that is in Jesus mold and shape our character so that truth-telling marks our daily lives.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

A Personal Record

No, I didn't set any new personal best in a sporting event. That would be nice, but this new record was in the area of ministry. This morning I performed a wedding for the oldest groom that I've ever had the privilege of marrying. Allen joined our church about 8 years ago, beginning by attending a Sunday School class that I was teaching at that time. Allen is a Bible scholar and frequently helps lead chapel services at John Knox Village where he resides. Allen also became a good friend of our third son, Josh, who interviewed him for a class assignment about his recollections of World War II. They've gone out to eat together on a couple of occasions and keep tabs on each other through me. Josh is currently studying in China and thus couldn't attend the wedding today.

So, about that record.... Just how old is Allen? He will be turning 99 on May 10th. He was a bit concerned about how folks might respond to the notion of him getting married a week and a half before his 99th birthday, but when he broke the news to the current Sunday School class he attends (one of our largest at church), there was an overwhelming display of support. That was demonstrated today by the great turnout. We had to find additional chairs for the chapel at John Knox to accommodate the crowd that came.

The funniest moment in the service was when I related the experience of meeting with Allen and his bride-to-be a few weeks ago to discuss the plans for the service. We talked about the components and order of the wedding ceremony itself and when we had completed that, he asked me if I had any words of advice for him. When I told that story this morning, everyone laughed. I told them that's exactly what I did when Allen asked me the question. I generally ask a prospective couple to meet with me for several sessions of premarital counseling, but I told Allen that anyone who had lived successfully for 99 years didn't need any advice from me. I told him I was certain he could offer me a lot of wisdom. All in all, it was a beautiful service. I pray that they will enjoy the time that God gives them together.