Wednesday, September 30, 2009

This 'N That

We have been blessed to have been called for revival services at First Baptist Church of Grayson, KY this week. What a wonderful and welcoming congregation they are! There is a true spirit of revival going on in that church. I have simply prayed that God would not allow me to get in the way of what He is doing there in Carter County. They are so blessed to have called Paul Schmidt as their Pastor in May. He and Jean are precious people who will minister to that part of the body of Christ with love and dedication.


Our "Spiritual Focus Week" is coming up at Westmoreland Baptist Church the last week of October. We will begin on Saturday evening, October 24, when we host a "Season of Prayer" as the Greater Huntington Baptist Association convenes with us for its annual meeting, and a combined prayer emphasis. Then on Sunday morning our revival services will begin with Rev. Mike Osborne as our evangelist. The revival effort will conclude on Wednesday evening, October 28. Then, on Thursday evening, October 29, our AWANA ministry will host a "Fall Festival" during Huntington's Trick or Treat night. This will provide a safe alternative for the kids in Westmoreland, and also serve as a platform to introduce our community to our church family and the various children's ministries at Westmoreland Baptist (Sunday School, children's choir, AWANA, VBS, Upward Basketball and Cheerleading, etc). Candy and the Gospel message will be distributed to all who come. I'll be sharing more regarding our "Spiritual Focus Week" on this blog in early October.


Big changes are taking place in several of the entities of the Southern Baptist Convention. North American Mission Board President, Geoff Hammond, resigned in August under pressure from the NAMB Board of Trustees. Just a couple of weeks ago, Jerry Rankin, President of the International Mission Board announced his upcoming retirement. Then last week, Morris Chapman, long time President of the Executive Committee announced his upcoming retirement next September. Chapman's retirement announcement came as a surprise to many, but information I have picked up from one who was present in Nashville at last week's Executive Committee meeting, is that Chapman was left with no alternative but to announce his retirement or face termination from the EC Board. There has been no public mention of this (as happened with Hammond and the NAMB Board) but if this is the case, I would certainly not be surprised.

Chapman, who has done many wonderful things over the years as President of the EC, has burnt some bridges with some of the other entity heads and other Convention leaders in recent years. I can't help but believe that through his public opposition to the "Great Commission Resurgence" document and his mean spirited address at the Convention meeting in Louisville this summer, he has painted himself into a corner from which he could not escape. Next summer's Convention meeting in Orlando is shaping up as a seminal moment in the history of the Southern Baptist Convention that will shape the future of this great Convention.


President Barack Obama is off next week for Copenhagen. What is the purpose of this trip? A summit meeting with other heads of state? Some type of peace talks? Economic strategy confab?


The Leader of the Free World is going to Denmark to try to convince the International Olympic Committee to award the 2016 Summer Games to his hometown of Chicago. Oprah Winfrey (another famous citizen of the "City With Big Shoulders") will accompany the first couple on this one day trip. My question is this - Why is it necessary for our President to spend any time and taxpayer money (even if it is only a 24 hour trip) on something as inconsequential as this, when our nation if facing some of it's greatest crises in the past century?

We are involved in two wars where precious American lives are being lost each day. Unemployment is on the verge of double digit figures. Deficit spending is at a level that is higher than the combined totals of the last five administrations. It is becoming more apparent that Iran is developing nuclear weapons and missiles to deliver them. Another recent Terrorist attack plan on New York was just uncovered by the FBI. And we are told that health care reform is the most urgent issue facing America today. Meanwhile our President spends an inordinate amount of time on television (five Sunday talk shows on one day) and appearances in commercials for a comedy special, and a visit with David Letterman.

Now it seems that in spite of all these issues (and others) Mr. Obama feels that it is incumbent upon him to help Mayor Daley by using his position as our Chief Executive to bring the Olympics to Chicago in 2016. I am a little more concerned about whether the U.S. will still be in business in 2016!


While Students in public schools all around America observed "See You At The Pole" last week, there was no such gathering at our local high school. Sad indeed.


Got a notice on Facebook last night that "The Naked Chef" will be preparing dinner at one of our churches this evening. Some type of big announcement is coming after the dinner. ?????


Parents and Grandparents take note! Early Registration has begun for 2009-2010 Upward Basketball and Cheerleading at Westmoreland Baptist. This Christ Centered Ministry provides a wholesome, non threatening environment for boys and girls. It allows everyone to participate, while learning the concept of the sport, the benefit of teamwork, but more importantly, it impacts families with the Gospel of Christ. I hope everyone at WBC will support this ministry with your prayers, and that many will join the previous volunteers to make this ministry to children and their families a successful one.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

"I'd Be Ashamed!"

Long time eastern Kentucky pastor Charles Stewart said someone once asked him,, "Brother Stewart, if you weren't a Baptist, what would you be?" Without pausing a second, Brother Chuck replied, "Why, I'd be ashamed!"

What a great answer.

Now, I realize, as the old gospel song says, there are no Baptists, or Methodists, etc in Heaven, only born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. There are many denominations, and there are born again believers in every group. Devout Christ Followers, often differ on shades of doctrinal secondary and tertiary issues, but the one thing that unites us is the Gospel message. The story of the virgin born Son of God, His sinless life, His vicarious death, His bodily resurrection, His ascension to the Father, and His imminent return. The Good News that Salvation is found in no other than Jesus Christ, and the simple formula is "By Grace, through Faith". If we can agree on those points there should be Unity. On the other doctrinal differences, there should be Charity!

That being said, I am still proud (in a non sinful type of pride) to be a Baptist.

I am a Christian by the Grace of God (Eph 2:8-10). An Evangelical by command (Matt. 28:18-20), and a Baptist by conviction (2 Tim. 2:15), and a Southern Baptist by choice. Like many others, I grew up in another denomination but came to an SBC church because of certain doctrinal distinctions (see After uniting with an SBC church, I began to learn more and more about the Convention that further validated my decision.

For starters, the Southern Baptist Convention is not really a "denomination". It is a Convention. It is made up of over 43,000 autonomous local congregations of like faith, which have voluntarily decided to cooperate with one another to seek to fulfill the Great Commission and take the Gospel around the corner, and around the world. The actual "convention" only exists two days per year when it's churches send "messengers", (not "delegates") to the Annual Meeting. On the other 363 days of the year, the Convention is operated by several entities, each of which are overseen by a Board of Trustees which are elected by the messengers at the Annual Meeting.

The entities include the Executive Committee, which oversees the day to day operation of the convention, carrying out the policies and administering the convention budget, set by the messengers from the local churches. The International Mission Board and the North American Mission Board are primarily responsible for carrying the Gospel to every corner of the earth. There are more than 10,000 total full time missionaries overseen by these departments. Guidestone Financial Services (formerly the Annuity Board) serves as an entity to help pastors and local church staff members do retirement planning and funding, and provide various health care plans to our ministers at reasonable costs. The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, serves as a clearing house of information regarding the cultural forces around us, and it provides the service of contacting our elected officials and public policymakers on issues of the day, from a Biblical world view. LifeWay Christian Resources (formerly the Sunday School Board) provides quality Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, Discipleship training curriculum, and books, and other Christian literature and resources of all kinds. Beside their own publishing ministry, LifeWay has numerous Christian bookstores and operates two wonderful conference centers in North Carolina and New Mexico. The Southern Baptist Convention also operates six Theological Seminaries where pastors, evangelists, musicians, other church staff members, and missionaries can receive a world class affordable theological education from some of the most godly and knowledgeable teachers on the planet. The Women's Missionary Union (WMU) while not an official convention entity, serves as a catalyst for mission giving in the local churches, promoting the various SBC mission works.

The distinction, however, that I think makes the SBC such a special organism is the Cooperative Program. The Cooperative Program is what makes all this possible. Besides doctrinal purity, what makes an SBC church an SBC church, is the local church's gifts to the Cooperative Program. Each local body of believers decides how much (or little) it voluntarily gives to the Cooperative Program. Those gifts go to the State Convention and a portion of the monies go for the operation of the various State Conventions and their mission work. The rest of the money is forwarded on by the state to the national Convention offices. There, distribution is made to the various SBC entities. It is the monetary engine that drives the mission efforts of the Southern Baptist Convention.

There is no hierarchy that tells the local church what to do or how to operate. The SBC believes that under God, the local church is the highest point in the organization. Local congregations, voluntarily banding together in local associations, state conventions, and the SBC have opportunity to impact this world for Christ in a powerful way, that has thus far been one of the most powerful movements in the history of Christendom.

Is the SBC perfect? No. Far from it. When we get together, sometimes the debate is lively. Sometimes controversies arise. Sometimes course adjustments and corrections are needed. Doctrinal issues are debated at times. But we have learned long ago that we can do so much more for the Lord together, than we could ever do individually.

I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea. Looking back over the years that I have served Southern Baptist Churches, I find myself in agreement with Brother Stewart. What would I be if I weren't a Baptist?

I'd be ashamed!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Call to Revival

I’ve been praying for some time for Revival to come. I’m not talking about just a series of church meetings and worship services, but a spiritual time of refreshing that will shake the local church to it’s foundations. A powerful moving of the Holy Spirit that will be visible in the lives of every believer. I’m talking about what my old pastor use to call, “Old fashioned, Holy Ghost, sky blue, God sent down from Heaven, REVIVAL that will spread through the church and the community like fire in a broom sage field!” (Brother Vallance could really turn a phrase)

When does a church need Revival?
When the zeal to win lost souls seems to be at a low ebb
When the number of yearly baptisms decline
When the church members get comfortable and apathetic
When believer’s prayer lives grow anemic
When worship attendance is not as important as other outside activities
When the Holy Spirit is regulated by programs and schedules
When believers lose a hunger and thirst for the Word of God
When fellowship and interaction with other believers wanes
When we lose our focus on the Mission
When our love for Christ grows lukewarm or cold
When church members take their eyes off of God and focus on distractions
When traditions of men become more important that what “Thus sayeth the Lord”

A church is simply made up of its various members. And when the members begin to leave their first love – when other things become more important than following Jesus, it will show in our individual lives, in our families, and in our Church. If we as individuals, or collectively as a church, find ourselves in any of the former categories, then we need REVIVAL.

Traditionally in this part of the country, the term “Revival” has been synonymous with evangelistic crusades. For something or someone to be “re-vived” it had to be “vived” or alive in the first place. Revival is for the believer and collectively for the church. It is a reawakening, a spiritual refreshing, a renewing of commitment to Christ and a refocusing on the Mission. When that happens, we’ll see souls saved. We’ll spend more time in the baptismal waters. Here is the formula for true revival:

The Scriptures are expounded
Our Sin is Exposed
Our Selfishness is Eradicated
The Saints are Edified
The Savior is Exalted
And Sinners will be Enlisted into the Kingdom of God!

My challenge to each believer who reads this article, is that we submit ourselves to God for REVIVAL. Let us start by prayer. Fervent prayer. Believing prayer. Let us come together, as a local church, preparing ourselves for God’s message as we join together as a body of believers for a Spiritual Focus Week, from October 25-28. I pray that the next 37 days will be a time when God will rain down His Holy Spirit on us and we will BE THE CHURCH as we have never been before in our entire 94 year history. God is already showing up in our worship services. Let us invite Him in to our homes and our hearts 24/7.

Who knows but that it might just spread “like fire in a broom sage field” after all?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Points to Ponder

These are just some things I am pondering on a Tuesday morning.

It's halfway through September, and for the first time since the first cutting of the spring, I have actually been able to go more than 6 or 7 days between grass mowings. This spring and summer have seemed exceptionally wet. (I haven't checked the official precipitation records, but I know the grass has acted like it's been on steroids this year). Usually by late July or August the vegetation in my yard (I have a "yard", not a "lawn") is very dry. It is just now beginning to have that August look to it.


Today is the first anniversary of the major financial crisis that has caused my retirement fund to tank. Funny how time flies when you're having fun.


One would have had to have been vacationing in some cave with Osama Bin Laden to have missed this week end's outburst by Serena Williams over a questionable call at the U.S. Open. Bad behavior is not unique to professional athletes, but they are certainly in the spotlight and their actions are magnified by media coverage. When one of them "goes off" on an official, a fan, a coach, or a teammate it is splashed all over the print and broadcast media. Serena proved to have a world class temper to go with her tremendous talent. While watching her tirade, did it strike anyone besides me as ironic that her name is "Serena"?


Speaking of bad behavior... Kanye West and Congressman Jim Wilson showed us that entertainers and politicians can surely be boorish as well. Both have issued an apology. The House of Representatives will probably pass a resolution condemning Wilson for yelling, "You lie!" during President Obama's address to Congress. I'm not condoning Wilson's lack of decorum, but many of his hypocritical colleagues, showed the same disdain for the House Rules, when they hooted, jeered, and booed, President Bush as he delivered the State of the Union Speech. What a bunch of jerks!


My favorite college football team took a humiliating 52-10 beat down this past Saturday at the hands of the talented Hokies of Virginia Tech. We take on Bowling Green this coming Saturday. I almost dread to go. Not because of fear of another loss (although that certainly is a possibility) but because of some of the folks who sit behind me in the end zone stands. In the home opener two weeks ago, the two couples behind us were profane, rude, and from what I could tell, much more qualified to make coaching decisions than the professional staff who prowled the sidelines.

One of the guys yelled at Marshall's 6'-7" 295 lb. tackle (from a distance of 30 yards away), "You're stupid! You don't deserve to be out there! Get off the field!" I couldn't help but chuckle when my seatmate suggested that he might want to share his opinion with the young man, face to face after the game.

The two "ladies" were more obnoxious and profane than the men. By the end of the first half, I was just about ready to move when they decided they had endured enough. They informed their men they were headed back to the tailgate area where, thankfully, they remained for the remainder of the contest. One of the guys disappeared with them as well. I guess they hadn't been able to get adequately "likkered up" before the game.

That is precisely the kind of behavior that makes one hate to take his kids or grandchildren to the games. When confronted over their behavior, I have found that the attitude is usually"I paid for my ticket and I'll say what I please." That's mature. That's the kind of fans we really need.


Having grown up in church as a PK and having been a pastor, myself, for nearly four decades, I never cease to be amazed at the attitudes exhibited by some who profess to be followers of Christ. None of us are perfect. In fact we are far from it. However, the pettiness, jealousy, and fault finding that some "church folks" exhibit is just unbelievable. Now I know none of that would ever happen in my church or your church, but it does happen - and it is ugly, and far below the standard of Christlike behavior. Over the years, I have witnessed a number of "my way or the highway" attitudes expressed by disgruntled church members. How sad. It's a cancer that sucks the joy out of others, and gives the cause of Christ a black eye.


On the other side of the coin, we pastors are often guilty of wrong attitudes as well. Some pastors make the mistake of being aloof and feeling superior to the flock. Some foolishly become to close to certain members of the congregation and risk alienating other sheep. Some lose sight of the perspective that we are "under shepherds" and take on the role of CEO. For those, John Piper reminds us, "Brothers we are not professionals." Sometimes we allow ourselves to become weak spiritually as we actively minister to others, and neglect our own pursuit of intimacy with God. Sometimes we lose our tempers like Moses did with a rebellious congregation.

I've certainly made my share of mistakes and miscues. There have been a number of times I have had to repent before God over things I have said (or thought). I have also had to apologize to some of my fellow believers for hurts that I may have caused (unintentionally, but hurtful nonetheless). We pastors should always remember the words of a former fisherman, turned "shepherd" who put it this way, "Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away." (1 Peter 5:2-4)


Linda, along with her sister, niece, and two other lady friends are enjoying their fourth day of vacation on Topsail Island, NC. She says the weather has been beautiful and she's having a wonderful time, unwinding on the deck, enjoying the sun and sea breezes. Here's hoping for a great rest of the week for all involved. She deserves it!


Well, perhaps that's enough pondering for this morning. I do have to head for the office. Hope YOU have a great day!

Friday, September 11, 2009

My 400th Post

Never, Ever Forget!

Eight years ago today Americans were shocked into reality as thousands of our fellow countrymen lost their lives while going about their daily activities. The World Trade Center, The Pentagon, and a field outside Shanksville, PA were the particular sites of destruction, but the anguish and the outrage were felt from coast to coast and around the world.

On that day, and for a few weeks following, we were no longer "hyphenated Americans". We were simply Americans. We were united by the common loss. We called out to God. The churches were full. We began talking and bonding with our neighbors. We gained a renewed respect for those who serve us in the Military and as first responders at home. We came together as a people against a common, faceless enemy.

We soon learned that the enemy was actually a hate filled radical Muslim group, with no regard for life or property. Their only motivation was a blind loyalty to a false religion that promised eternal life and 70 virgins to the fools who would destroy themselves while exterminating the "infidel". We were repulsed by the hate and violence. We united for a short while as a people who understood that there are those out there who hate us, for no other reason than our way of life.

Now, only eight short years later, we seem to have forgotten the many lessons learned on 9-11.

We are a nation divided. We are like a rudderless ship. We have elected executive and legislative branches of Government who seem to be focused on "Changing America". Not changing the things that may be wrong in America, but actually Changing America. Our values, our freedoms, our inalienable rights.

I fear a government that is progressively inserting itself into our personal lives. I fear a government that has come ever closer to taking over our financial institutions, manufacturing companies, and our health care system. I fear a spirit of entitlement that many among us selfishly exhibit, that manifests itself through dependence on the government to meet all of our needs and wants. I fear the reckless spending of TRILLIONS of dollars that we do not have, to put band aids on mortal wounds.

We have become a divided nation, a rudderless ship. We have become more openly ugly, rude, dishonest, and sickeningly partisan. We are becoming the antithesis of what our founding fathers envisioned for this great nation.

I am praying that on this eighth anniversary of the single most violent acts ever perpetrated on our shores, that we will not only remember September 11, 2001, but that we would also remember July 4, 1776.

Never, ever, EVER forget!

And don't forget there is a God who calls us to remember His Providence. It's not too late.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Anybody Remember This?

Folks my age and older in the tri state area of West Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky should remember the familiar roof line, and the whirling satellite, as well as the advertising jingle:

"Everybody's goin' to a BBF, and taking their appetite.

Everybody's goin' to a BBF at the whirling satellite.

You can eat 'em there, or take 'em home,

And entertaining can be fun.

Let BBF be your party chef.

Serve a banquet on a bun!"

Yes, it's the BBF! It was the 1960's and McDonalds was going great guns with their fast food hamburgers and fries. Burger Chef's were beginning to spring up all over the place as well. But my personal favorite was the BBF. The initials stood for Burger Boy Food-O-Rama, but we kids at Beverly Hills Junior High jokingly said it stood for "Badly Burnt Food". In reality the food wasn't burnt at all. In fact, it was a pretty good burger, (a little larger than the ones McDonalds sells today) and the best part was, it only set you back fifteen cents. That's right, $.15!

I saw and sampled my first BBF when Dad was leading a Revival meeting in Columbus, OH. It was in 1964. Our family was staying the week with Allie and Lula Edwards, who were members of the Welch Avenue Church, where Dad was preaching. One day Lula said that instead of cooking, she wanted us to get burgers and fries. Allie, Dad, and I piled into the car and headed up High Street to the sign with the "Whirling Satellite". We paid just under $5.00 for a couple of large paper sacks that held 15 hamburgers and 15 orders of french fries. We took them back to the Edwards' home and consumed them like a swarm of locusts. I was hooked.

Later that fall, a new building began to be constructed in Huntington at the intersection of US 60 and Washington Boulevard, near my Junior High School. Everyone wondered what it was. As the building took shape and the scalloped roof line appeared, my heart jumped with joy. "They're building a BBF!" I proudly told my friends. On opening, it soon became a favorite hangout for kids in that end of town. Later, during my senior year in high school, and my freshman year in college at Marshall, I would work there. First as a grill man (I eventually could have 48 patties frying on the huge grill at one time) and later as an Assistant Manager.

Our BBF was far superior to McDonalds. It had an eat in "dining room" when at that time, McDonalds just had a window where you ordered your food and a couple of benches down the side of the building where you could sit down to eat, if you so desired. Our BBF had little jukeboxes at each table, where a quarter would get you three popular songs played over the PA system. All the food was served up in paper sacks. No trays back then. At that time the fries were fresh - not frozen. We had a big machine that we fed whole potatoes into and it shredded them into strips that went in the deep fryer, skins and all. Man, were they good! The regular burger was the standard, but many folks loved the "Giant", which first appeared as basically a double cheeseburger, but later evolved into a triple decker.

Soon the BBF began serving Roast Beef Sandwiches, and not long after that, fried chicken was added to the menu. As is often the case, BBF, in an effort to compete with everybody, began to lose it's focus, and forgot to "dance with the one that brung them". By 1970 the company was sold to Borden's (the milk people) and the name was changed to Borden Burger. Soon, the 70 or so stores began to shut down, and now, the BBF is just a fading memory.

At one time there were three BBF's in Huntington. The one on US 60, one on 4th Avenue, downtown, across from the Greyhound Bus Station, and one about three blocks from the church I now serve in Westmoreland (in the big curve at the site of the present Westmoreland Estates apartments). There was also a BBF in Ashland on Winchester Avenue at the foot of the Ben Williamson Bridge.

If you'd like to know more about the BBF, check out this link.