Connecting the Dots in an Unconnected World

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


I enjoy reading and gathering quotes. Here are a few I have found interesting:

"You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life."
-- Winston Churchill

"There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because his conscience tells him it is right..."
-- Martin Luther

"It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness."
-- Chinese Proverb

"If you don't know where you are going, you'll end up some place else."
-- Yogi Berra

"After the game, the king and the pawn go into the same box."
-- Italian Proverb

"Victory belongs to the most persevering."
-- Napoleon Bonaparte

"A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you and were helped by you will remember you when forget-me-nots have withered. Carve your name on hearts, not on marble."
-- C.H. Spurgeon

Attempting to connect the dots…

Romans 1:16

“Civilization today reminds me of an ape with a blowtorch playing in a room full of dynamite. It looks like the monkeys are about to operate the zoo, and the inmates are taking over the asylum.”
-- Vance Havner

Friday, April 24, 2009

Fruit Baskets and Crop Failures

Dr. Cal Guy was the Professor Emeritus of Missions at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, TX at the time of his death. Dr. Guy influenced thousands of young preachers and missionaries with his down home style and personal concern. Dr. Guy was a very wise man with a keen sense of mission and missions. He often used illustrations from the rural farming community where he pastored while serving at Southwestern.

As has been true of every generational change in Southern Baptist life he had many students that clamored for new methodologies and structures. Dr. Guy responded: “It does no good to repaint the fruit baskets when you are having a crop failure”.

Surely, we are facing a crop failure in souls, both in America and around the world. The increasing lost condition of our culture is alarming. However, “repainting the fruit baskets” (restructuring or streamlining) will not solve the problem. The answer lies in pastors and churches of all sizes returning the simple Bible plan of sowing and reaping.

One of my favorite scriptures is Psalm 126:5-6:
Ps 126:5-6
5 They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.
6 He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.

Until our churches experience genuine revival, that changes our lives and makes us like Jesus. Until we renew our commitment to personal soul winning. Until following Jesus becomes more important than anything else in life. It will not matter what color we paint the fruit baskets, there will be no harvest.

Attempting to connect the dots…

Romans 1:16

“If we are not careful we become like the Australian who received a new boomerang for Christmas and nearly killed himself trying to throw the old one away.”

-- Dr. David C. Hall, Sr.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Wrong End of the Bus

For the past months there has been much discussion concerning the need in Southern Baptist life for a "Great Commission Resurgence". The phrase as such was coined by Dr. Thom Rainer, President of Lifeway. Last Thursday, Dr. Daniel Akin, President of the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, preached in their chapel service and laid out Axioms for a Great Commission Resurgence.” Allow me to first position myself. I am in favor of Southern Baptist experiencing a renewed commitment to winning our world to Jesus. We desperately need to be more effective, more aggressive, and more passionate about winning our world to Jesus.

As I have considered the need for a Great Commission Resurgence, I have come to several conclusions. First, the centerpiece of most of the discussion seems to revolve around a restructuring and or streamlining of the Southern Baptist Convention at large. It would seem to me that this is beginning at the wrong end of our polity. Can you imagine a mechanic who was assigned to work on a large bus that had engine problems and proceeding to make repairs to the rear axle of the bus? Surely, he might do some good but he would not resolve the basic problem that he was responsible to repair.

A Great Commission Resurgence will begin in the heart and life of local churches. I would agree that we can be more efficient with the mission’s dollars that are provided through the sacrificial gifts of God’s people. However, being more efficient will not necessarily create a Great Commission Resurgence. We discovered this when we adopted "A Covenant for a New Century" in 1995. From the perspective of the denomination we need to develop programs and emphases that will assist the church in experiencing genuine renewal and then to develop a deeper commitment to the Great Commission. Only when our local churches become mission stations will we see our evangelistic results turn around.

Second, the Great Commission was not given to the Southern Baptist Convention. The Great Commission was given to local churches (more specifically, to the members of the local church). The Southern Baptist Convention does not exist to fulfill the Great Commission. It exists to assist the churches that comprise the cooperating fellowship of the Southern Baptist Convention to fulfill the Great Commission. I believe whole heartedly in the efforts of our Southern Baptist Convention, the Florida Baptist Convention, and the Southwest Florida Baptist Association. The church I pastor has a cooperative relationship with each of these entities. However, it is the task of these bodies to develop programs and strategies that will assist the church I pastor in fulfilling the Great Commission under the leadership of the Lord.

Third, the genius of Southern Baptist life is cooperation. This cooperation is not based in coercion but in common mission, common theology, and common commitment. The spiritual value of this cooperation is fellowship and encouragement. The practical value of this cooperation is training and inspiration. The financial value of this cooperation is the gathering of our mission’s resources under one budget. This allows the church of 10 or less as well as the church of 10,000 or more to participate in the preaching of the gospel in our precious country and around the world. Do I agree with every decision our beloved denomination makes? No! I don’t even always agree with the decisions I make. However, the greater gain of cooperative ministry far outweighs the challenges created when I might disagree. Eighty four years ago God gave Southern Baptists the Cooperative Program as a tool to assist our churches in the fulfilling of the Great Commission. Our cooperative approach to missions support is the envy of every other denomination. I would be concerned with any approach which would de-emphasize cooperative missions support. We do best what we do together.

Again, I affirm the need for a resurgence in winning lost people to Christ. May God give us wisdom as His people and may God give Southern Baptists a renewed commitment that counts no price too great to reach our world with the gospel.

Attempting to connect the dots…

Romans 1:16

"If a commission by an earthly king is considered an honor, how can a commission by a Heavenly King be considered a sacrifice?"

-- David Livingstone

Friday, April 17, 2009

This Day

I came across a web-site This Day in History. It recalls each of the important events that took place on a particular date in history.

April 17 included:
· April 17, 1951 Mickey Mantle first stepped to bat for the New York Yankees
· April 17, 1961 The Bay of Pigs invasion occurred
· April 17, 1970 The Apollo 13 lunar spacecraft returned from near disaster

What will April 17, 2009 record? Is it possible that God will use you to win the next great evangelist to the Lord? Is it possible you will influence a family for Christ simply by a casual conversation and invitation to God’s house? Is it possible that you will be drawn closer to God through your personal devotional time?

Each day presents to us a new opportunity to impact our world. This impact could be obviously monumental, as some of those recorded on This Day in History or seemingly insignificant. God has a plan for you on this day in history. What you do for our Lord today will make a difference for eternity.

“This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”
Ps 118:24

Attempting to connect the dots…

Romans 1:16

“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.”

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Dealing with Pirates

On Easter Sunday, April 12, Navy Seals rescued an American citizen held captive by Somali pirates. Three of the pirates were killed and one surrendered during the successful rescue. This year 18 vessels (not all American) have been hijacked with 16 vessels and 285 sailors still captive by the pirates. On Monday, April 13, 3 more ships were captured by pirates and a United States Congressman had his plane fired upon as he landed in Mogadishu. Abdullahi Lami, one of the pirates holding a Greek ship anchored in the Somali town of Gaan, said: “Every country will be treated the way it treats us. In the future, America will be the one mourning and crying. We will retaliate... the killings of our men.” With the resources at our disposal how does this continue?

Before I attempt to answer the question, allow me to express my pride in our military for their courage and valor. These precious men and women stand at the gate of freedom for you and me each day of our life. As always, I am proud to be an American.

Now to the question; First, I believe we operate from the false premise, that all people live with the same morals and ethics with which we live. There is evil in the world and there are people and nations that do not value life and freedom as we do. Second, as a nation, we spend far too much time being concerned about what other nations (usually our enemies) think of us. When American lives are at stake we should take any and all appropriate measures to rescue them. These are our people. Third, we have by historic practice, shown the world that we do not possess the resolve for a long conflict that requires a consistent commitment. Now is the time for America to stand strong and tall. With the military resources at our disposal a motley band of pirates should cower in fear not mock and threaten us.

Someone has well said, “The threat of terrorism is not stronger than the will of the American people.” May this be true of our leaders. I encourage you to pray for our President and other military leaders as they seek to bring to an end this particular terrorism.

Attempting to connect the dots…

Romans 1:16

“Courage is the ladder on which all the other virtues mount.”

-- Clare Booth Luce

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Increase in Murder-Suicide

During the past months we have seen a significant increase in the number of murders, murder-suicides, school shootings, law enforcement related deaths, and even our churches are now killing fields. I was recently asked what might be the cause of this increase.

Certainly the economic downturn has an effect on the emotional stability of those directly affected. The stress of losing much of your life’s work and investment can be a portion of the problem. Socially, we have developed a philosophy that allows the individual to justify any action felt. Morally, we have devalued the life of the individual. The rampant progress of abortion laws and the growing practice of euthanasia create a lack of concern for life. Culturally, the increase of violence on television, in movies, and particularly in video games has desensitized us from the reality of death.

However, I think the greatest influence has been the growing secularization of our nation. When we remove the God of the Bible, prayer, and righteousness from our daily life we are creating an environment whereby evil can have more influence. We must never forget that there is evil in the world. This evil left unchecked will lead to depths wickedness and debauchery that we cannot comprehend. The words of I Peter 5:8 rings true, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”

I submit to you the greatest need of our nation is to experience a genuine spiritual awakening. Faith in the Lord Jesus is the only answer to the problems we face.

Attempting to connect the dots…

Romans 1:16

“The Church in the West today presents too easy a target for Satan. We do not believe we are at war. We do not know where the battleground is located, and, in spite of our weapons, they are neither loaded nor aimed at the right target. We are unaware of how vulnerable we are. We are better fitted for a parade that for an amphibious landing.”
--Ed Silvoso

Monday, April 6, 2009

Read the Bible

Several years ago I came under conviction concerning reading the Bible. We as Baptist claim to be a people of the “Book”, often we find our testimony to exceed our practice. Even as ministers we sometimes fail to spend adequate time in personal Bible devotions. It is a tragic truth but some preachers are more familiar with the New York Stock Exchange than they are with the Word of God. Many people quote the Bible or blame the Bible with statements never having read the Bible.

For the past several years I have attempted to keep a commitment to spend at least one hour each day in devotional Bible reading. The intent of this reading is not to prepare for a sermon or study but rather to become better acquainted with the Word of God. This has caused me to read through the Bible once every 60.4 days. I have read the King James, New King James, New International, Holman, New Living, God’s Word, and English Standard, translations (many several times). I am currently reading the New Berkley translation. While my personal preference and the Bible I use in my study and the pulpit is the King James, I have found it beneficial to read from modern translations.

This has not been an easy commitment to keep. My schedule is as busy as or busier than the average person. Each day I arise at 5:00am so that I can spend that first hour of the day in God’s Word. There are very few interruptions at 5:00am. One of the benefits is that I spend that time with my wife Ruthi as she does her personal devotions. There are days when I would rather sleep than read. God has not only helped me to keep the commitment, He has blessed my understanding of the panorama of His Word.

This has been a marvelous journey. I encourage you to commit to spend a specific period of time each day in God’s Word. It will bless your soul.

Attempting to connect the dots…

Romans 1:16

“I am a creature of a day. I am a spirit come from God, and returning to God. I want to know one thing: the way to heaven. God himself has condescended to teach me the way. He has written it down in a book. Oh, give me that book! At any price give me the book of God. Let me be a man of one book.”
--John Wesley

website hit counter
website hit counters