Connecting the Dots in an Unconnected World

Monday, May 25, 2009

Dr. Tom Kinchen

Last week I attended the annual meeting of the Baptist College of Florida Board of Trustees. At this meeting we broke ground on a new World Missions and Evangelism Center, dedicated new family housing, and dedicated a new administrative building. All of this is done without incurring any debt during an economic recession. To God be the glory.

Also, we recognized Dr. Kinchen at the occasion of his 19th anniversary as President of the college. When Dr. Kinchen arrived at the college plans were in place to close the college within one year. During his tenure he has provided extraordinary leadership. Endowments have grown exponentially, enrollment has reached an all time high, and his vision for the future of the college is clear and challenging. God has used Dr. Kinchen to create at the Baptist College of Florida one of Southern Baptists finest educational entities. What has happened under his presidency is a miracle of biblical proportion.

In a day when most educational institutions are straying from God’s Word and the Great Commission the Baptist College of Florida remains firmly lashed to the both. The motto: “Changing the World through the Unchanging Word” is strategic guidance for all that is happening at the college. I am honored to be associated with this wonderful school.

We congratulate Dr. Kinchen for his consistent, Godly leadership and nineteen wonderful years of God blessed victory.

Attempting to connect the dots…

Romans 1:16

“Everything in Baptist life rises and falls on leadership”
~ Dr. Lee Roberson

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

18 Years

This week I celebrate eighteen years as pastor of Southside Baptist Church. It hardly seems possible that I have served here this long. The time has gone by rapidly.

Ruthi and I have loved each place that God has given us to serve. He has always given us wonderful people who have loved us and encouraged us as we followed the Lord. This is particularly true of Southside. The people of Southside are God’s finest. They have been gracious to us and our family. They have been tolerant of my mistakes. They have been willing to follow leadership. I am proud to be their pastor.

Here are some things I have reaffirmed in eighteen years.

  • You can trust God’s people to follow Him.
  • It is imperative that the church maintain its evangelistic zeal.
  • The greatest challenge of leadership is training and education.
  • Southern Baptists with all of their weaknesses are still the finest missions’ force in history.
  • Florida Baptists have been given a magnificent opportunity to impact the world right here in our state.
  • I have been privileged to serve with some of the most committed people in God’s service.
  • Not every experience is good but across these eighteen years God has been good to the point of overflowing to me.
  • The most glorious moment in serving Him is the winning of a lost soul.
  • It is the supreme privilege of life to stand before a group of people week in and week out and proclaim the riches of God’s Word.

I am grateful that God called me to be a preacher and I am honored that He called me to be the preacher at Southside Baptist Church. Thank you my dear people for eighteen God blessed years.

Attempting to connect the dots…

Romans 1:16

"The successful man doesn't use others, other people use the successful man, for above all the success is of service."
- Mark Caine

Friday, May 15, 2009

A Wonderful Evening

Last night Ruthi and I were honored to attend a patriotic program performed by second graders at Ashton Elementary school where our daughter Marci, an ASL certified interpreter, works with deaf and hard of hearing children. It was one of the finest experiences of the year.

I was both humbled and challenged by the boys and girls. Marci works with 5 deaf and hard of hearing children who performed special music during the concert. One of her boys did a solo. What a blessing to see the joy and courage of these children.

As I sat and enjoyed the concert I experienced several emotions. First, I was very proud of Marci (I am also very proud of Ralph and Steven) and the work God has chosen for her. Her love for her children and her commitment to her craft is obvious. The work she is doing is making a difference in the lives of the families of these precious children. One parent shared, “It is wonderful to be able to enjoy a program without having to interpret.”

Second, I was reminded of how fortunate I have been in life. Some of these children go to homes where no one in the family has sign language skills. They live in an environment where no one is capable of communicating with them. I shall make an honest attempt to not take for granted my blessings.

Third, I reaffirmed my gratitude for America and those dear men and women who have laid their lives on the line for my freedom. The program was about our soldiers who fight for us. At one point during the program the second graders performed a reenactment of the raising of the flag on Iwo Jima. This was a very emotional moment for me. Our dear church member, Ralph Nifong, was present on Iwo Jima when the flag was raised. Freedom has been purchased and kept at great cost. These are the true heroes and role models in life.

But, my list of heroes has now grown by five boys and girls who have the courage to face a life that shall always be filled with challenges. Five boys and girls who need caring teachers and adult leaders to guide them. Five boys and girls that need compassionate adults to mentor them.

Thank you boys and girls for reminding this old preacher of the greatness of the land we call America.

Attempting to connect the dots…

Romans 1:16

“Children will not remember you for the material things you provided but for the feeling with which you cherished them.”
- Richard L. Evans

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Is America a Christian Nation?

Is America a Christian Nation?

There is legitimate concern as to comments by President Obama stating that America is no longer a Christian nation. Recently in Turkey, he said that, "We do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation; we consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values."

In all honesty I believe President Obama may well be correct. If the definition of a Christian nation is determined by our behavior we can no longer claim to be a Christian nation. As a nation we no longer honor the Lord. The Lord’s Day is no longer sacred. Sporting events, recreation, outings have all replaced the faithful worship of Christ on the Lord’s Day. The overwhelming majority of professing Christians never darken the door of their church. The way that we spend our money is more pagan than Christian. American Christians spend more money annually on cosmetics than they give to their churches. In a recent year Christians gave less than 2.4% of their income for the support of their churches. The way that we treat others is reprehensible. Life is no longer sacred. Legalized abortion and euthanasia strongly testify to our lack of respect for others created in the image of God. Biblical standards have disappeared in favor of high ideals and values that have no specific foundation aside from the current situation. Open immorality and preferred status for those who choose abominable sin is a reality. Christianity is rapidly becoming a persecuted faith in our land.

Our nation was founded upon men who sought after God. Fleeing religious persecution, they determined to provide a place where men could worship God to the dictates of their heart. It is sad but true that our forefathers would weep if they saw how the nation they sacrificed to found now behaves. While the president’s statement irks me, the reason he could make the claim stated above is that we have been a Christian nation that provided for freedom of religious expression.

How did we arrive here as a nation? While there are many contributing factors the overwhelming cause is the decline of commitment to the Lord on the part of Christians. We ceased to be salt in a decaying culture. We lost our missionary and soul winning zeal. We compromised our convictions and because of this our pulpits lost their spiritual and moral authority.

Is there value in being a Christian nation? Again, the answer is a resounding, yes! What has happened in America in our brief 233 years is nothing short of miraculous when placed in the context of history. Any honest individual can see the hand of God from our early days even to today. Our numerous victories in battle, our remarkable progress in the workplace and scientific advance, and our republic are the envy of the world. This began with Christian men praying for the leadership of God.

A nation may only claim to be a Christian nation when it is honoring the Lord. God help us to return to the Lord and once again be a Christian nation.

Attempting to connect the dots…

Romans 1:16

“It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible.

- George Washington

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Leagalizing Gambling

With an economy that is in recession and amoral and immoral legislators seeking new streams of revenue the legalization of gambling in Florida and the legalization of Internet Gambling are once again being considered by our political leaders.

It would seem that our politicians are more interested in revenue that the good of the people they represent. Every state that has legalized gambling has without exception counted a high cost in the lives and finances of its people. Gambling is wrong for Florida and Internet gambling is wrong for America for several reasons.

Gambling is wrong personally. It violates a fundamental premise of personal self worth. The person who works for a living has a much stronger self worth than the individual that relies on someone or something to provide for them. Ultimately gambling is a tax on the poor. Those who least can afford losses are most often the ones who are looking for a “big win” and suffer a big loss.

Gambling is wrong for the family. Often gambling and its consequent addiction create a loss of money, resources, and common sense that leads to the demise of the family.

Gambling is wrong for Florida. We are consistently deceived as to the financial benefits and uses of tax revenue related to gambling. In the late 1980’s Floridians were told that the State Lottery would provide for a financial Nirvana as relates to education funding. Since the adoption of the lottery we have seen consistent reductions in educational dollars.

Gambling is wrong for America. Gambling will take money away from the normal economic patterns of life, food, shelter, transportation, job creation, etc… The loss in these areas impacts every segment of our society.

Gambling is wrong with God. The Bible teaches, “… this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.” 2 Thessalonians 3:10. God intends for us to earn of living by the sweat of our brow.

We will not find solutions for our economic problems by encouraging people to that which will ultimately bring harm to them. I trust you will encourage our legislators to not walk down this dark path.

Attempting to connect the dots…

Romans 1:16

“There is no replacing hard work and consecration on the road to success.”

- Unknown

Friday, May 1, 2009

Lord, Make Me a Soul Winner

What is it that you would have God to do with your life? Do you desire to be a great preacher, a wonderful deacon, a wise parent, or even a Godly individual? While all of these have merit it is my belief that the greatest investment of life is in personal soul winning. The great need of our generation is for people who will give themselves entirely, without reservation, to the great task of personal soul winning.

All around us are the signs of this reality; pagan lives, pagan structures, pagan leaders, and pagan legislation are the norm. We will not influence them for righteousness until we lead them to the one who is righteous, Jesus. Change will only come when Jesus changes lives through His redemption.

Our world is lost and going to hell. We meet people each day that have no hope and no relationship with Jesus. Today, it was my privilege to make a hospital visit with a man in his early-eighties who was preparing for surgery. While I was there God allowed me to share the simple plan of salvation and they prayed to receive Jesus. I believe this was a divine appointment. God had prepared them to hear the gospel and receive His Son. I am grateful God allowed me to be a participant in His work of redemption.

Some would raise the question, “how will that help your church?” It may never help my church; however, this fine man and his wife are going to heaven and not to hell. It is not my work to build His church; Jesus said he would be doing that. It is my work to win souls.

My daily payer is that God will make me a more effective soul winner.

Attempting to connect the dots…

Romans 1:16

“Some men’s ambition is art, some men’s ambition is fame, some men’s ambition is gold. My ambition is the souls of men.”
– William Booth

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