Saturday, May 25, 2013

Funerals for Colleagues' Mothers

On Thursday and Friday of this week I attended funeral services for the mothers of two of my colleagues and fellow ministers at FBC Lee's Summit.  Marianna Baker, Allen's mom, passed away on Tuesday morning at the Kansas City Hospice House where my own mom spent the last 3 weeks of her life and received outstanding, compassionate care.  I was able to visit Marianna two or three times the last week of her life and was privileged to be asked to share the eulogy at her service on Thursday as well as handling the graveside service at Mt. Washington Cemetery in Independence.  I had enjoyed getting to know her as one of our senior adults at church since she joined back in May 2004.  We'll all miss her and are certainly praying for the Baker family in these days.

Randy Buffington's mother, Virginia, passed away last Sunday night.  We had honored Randy during the services on Sunday morning and evening in recognition of his 20th anniversary on staff at First Baptist Church Lee's Summit.  The choir and orchestra surprised him with an anthem arrangement of his favorite hymn, "Great is Thy Faithfulness" on Sunday morning.  On Sunday evening following the Pops Concert that featured the orchestra, handbells, and a couple of musical ensembles, Randy was also treated to another surprise--a combined group of the current youth choir plus former youth choir members who returned to sing a favorite number of the youth choir down through the years.  There were more than 60 present.  Randy displayed his emotions as he's prone to do in both services, getting pretty teary-eyed both times.

After the service, Randy drove through the thunderstorms that hit about the time the reception for him was concluding after the concert in order to be with his mother who's been in failing health and under hospice care for a few weeks.  He arrived and sang her into heaven as she opened her eyes briefly as he was singing "The Old Rugged Cross" and then took her last breath.

Several of us from church drove to Jeff City yesterday (Friday) for the funeral service and it was a beautiful tribute to Virginia Buffington's life, complete with music by the Buffington brothers and a solo by Randy.

Three of us on staff have lost our mothers now in the past year and a half and Mike Eaton (our facilities manager) also lost his mother-in-law just a few weeks ago.  All of these women were wonderful Christians and undoubtedly our loss is heaven's gain.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Not Resting on our Laurels

I shared the following thoughts with our senior adults for the June edition of Joyful Tidings, our monthly newsletter for our seniors.

Blake has been sharing some challenging messages with us in his current sermon series on “Dare to Make a Difference.”  He has encouraged us to move beyond our comfort zones and engage in some actions that stretch our faith beyond what we normally do.  I suspect that some of you reading this column might be thinking that your adventuresome days are all best viewed in the rear view mirror.  You might be tempted to say that God couldn’t possibly still use you or expect you to attempt anything new and challenging because you’re well into the prime of life.

If that’s what you’re thinking, I’d suggest that you think again.  When we read the pages of scripture, it’s amazing that many of God’s choice servants were just beginning their active ministries or catching their second wind as they approached 80 years of age.  Abraham and Moses were both certainly senior adults when God called them to make a difference—challenging Abraham to leave his country and journey to an unknown land, and asking Moses to free His people from slavery in Egypt.  The other person who stands out in my mind is Caleb who at the age of 85 is begging Joshua for the opportunity to take the fortified cities of the enemy who lived in the highlands of Israel.  Caleb confidently affirms that he’s still just as strong to engage the enemy in battle as he was at the age of 40 when Moses sent him and Joshua to spy out the land of Canaan.

You may be thinking it’s time to rest on your laurels and let the younger folks lead the way, but I strongly suspect that God still has some things He wants you to accomplish.  Otherwise, He wouldn’t have left you here.  Why not pray that dangerous prayer that Blake suggested we pray of “Lord, what do You want me to do?”  Then trust Him for the strength, resources, and courage to do it.  Let’s not grow weary in well-doing.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Recalculating Conference Update

We had a good time today at our church as we participated in the Recalculating Conference.  I didn't get to attend all of the breakout sessions as I was dashing around doing some of the behind-the-scenes stuff, but the reports I heard from those who did were all uniformly positive.  We ran into some scheduling conflicts with area graduations that prevented some of the other churches from participating as actively as they had anticipated, but overall it was a good experience.  Meissen's did a wonderful job of catering the lunch as they always do and the bonus breakout session after lunch led by Judy Baker that provided an overview of the Affordable Care Act was extremely informative.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Recalculating Conference

This Saturday (May 18th) our church will be hosting a conference entitled "Recalculating: GPS for Active Adults."  This is the second year in a row for such a conference to be offered in the Kansas City area.  Holmeswood Baptist Church hosted the initial gathering at their facility last June.  There is an outstanding line-up of 12 break-out sessions that will be offered that are all designed to help emerging baby boomers and senior adults have the information and tools necessary to navigate their retirement years. 

The conference is free and starts at 9:00 a.m.  First Baptist Church Lee's Summit is located at 2 NE Douglas St., Lee's Summit, MO 64063. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Dangerous Offering

I wanted to share a follow up from my last post about our church's response to our pastor's challenge of this past Sunday morning to give away our entire undesignated offering to the Tabitha Ministry that serves some of the neediest folks on the planet that live in and around the Guatemala City dump.  Our church has a history of responding generously when challenged to meet a sincere need and this Sunday was no exception.  The exact figures are still being finalized, but it appears that our church's gift to the Tabitha Ministry from this offering will surpass $38,000.  I can't wait to see how the Lord uses this generous gift from our folks to bless the lives of the children and families that the Tabitha Ministry assists each week.  To God be the glory, great things He has done!

Thursday, May 09, 2013

A Moving Experience

I had an especially moving experience yesterday that I'd like to share.  Our pastor began a new sermon series last Sunday morning entitled "Dare to Make a Difference."  He's challenging us to get out of our comfort zones and live a bold faith rather than the complacent, safe approach that seems to be the default mode for most of us.

As a part of that, he asked me to provide him with some photos of the Tabitha Ministry that functions at the city garbage dump in Guatemala City.  I've posted about that on several occasions previously on this blog.  Each of our missions teams that has gone there in recent years as well as the folks who've gone with me on the leadership training events have all visited the Tabitha Ministry while there.  I suspected that he was going to be challenging us to make a significant investment in the Tabitha Ministry, similar to a challenge he issued shortly after he began serving with us 3 years ago.  He proposed at that point that we give away an entire Sunday offering to support the work of three different agencies that all are involved in meeting human needs.  We did so and the church generously responded by making up that amount within 2-3 weeks.

Back to the emotional experience....  After I had worked in the morning to pull up some appropriate pictures and other info regarding the Tabitha Ministry, I went home for lunch.  As I do most days at lunch, I was reading my "Through the Bible in a Year" selections on my cell phone.  I'm using the New Living Translation this year and was catching up from missing Tuesday's assigned reading.  I came across the following verse in the midst of Hannah's prayer that she offers in 1 Sam. 2.  The first part of verse 8 reads as follows, "He lifts the poor from the dust and the needy from the garbage dump."  Having just seen the pictures of the precious children that the Tabitha Ministry cares for on a daily basis that would otherwise be rummaging through the hazardous and unsanitary garbage with their parents in an attempt to find something to salvage, recycle, or even eat, I was overcome with the impact of that verse.  I related the experience to our pastor and told him to feel free to share it with the congregation this coming Sunday.  He confirmed to me this afternoon that he had sought and received approval from the Finance Team to give away our entire Sunday offering this coming weekend for the Tabitha Ministry.  I can't wait to see how our folks respond to this challenge to make a difference in the lives of some of "the least of these" that Jesus talks about in Matt. 25.