About the Author
Husband to Patty. Daddy to Kimberly and Tommie. Grandpa Doc to Cohen, Max, Fox, and Marlee. Pastor to Snow Hill Baptist Church. Graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Reading. Photography. Golf. Colorado. Jeeping. Friend. The views and opinions expressed here are my own and should not be construed as representing the corporate views of the church I pastor.

New read …

The flight from Denver to OKC did not provide enough room to work on the laptop. I read instead. An editor suggested Donald Miller’s, Blue Like Jazz. I’ll have a link to the book through Amazon later today.

I made it through about 50 pages before a conversation broke out with the gentleman in the seat next to me. He chronicled his story. An auto accident a year and a half ago in OKC left him in need of surgery. Seems he was hit from behind and propelled into an intersection where he was hit again. He only remembers the first. His back is in need of repair. He was flying back for an arbitration hearing. The insurance company wants to pay after the surgery – he is required to have some up front. The surgery will cost $250,000. He has already doled out $90,000 in prescriptions for pain. Now unable to work the heavy equipment he will need to rehab and learn a new trade. He will likely be on some form of disability for the rest of his life. His first marriage ened with increased bickering and discontent. He sees his two children a couple of times a month. He moved in with a lady who left him after the accident – seems she wanted a more active life and so she moved on to more mobile men. He orderd a Harley as incentive to rehab. He knows it will take some time – he wanted something for which to look forward.

My take is he needs something more than a Harley to get him through. He needs a relationship with Jesus. Pray for Larry. He began his hearing this morning at 9:00 a.m.

As you can imagine this set me to thinking. In my younger days, I hear a story like this and think, “What a loser.” “If he would just get his act together and follow Jesus, he would avoid such disasters.” Now, I wonder how it is we ever survived with any kind of “smell” of Christ with such an attitude. I thought of the woman at the well in John 4. I thought how Jesus handled her. He knew her story and rather than suggest, “What a loser”, he engaged her and she was never the same.

Donald Miller describes growing up in church with a view of God something like s slot machine. When you need something you plug a prayer into the machine and hope for the best. There was little discussion of what it meant to live life following Jesus. Not much help in dealing with the crises and tragedies wihout some verbal piety to get you by. He soon realized he was broken and needed fixing. I suspect by the time I finish the book there will be a great deal to explain his Author’s note,

“I NEVER LIKED JAZZ MUSIC BECAUSE JAZZ MUSIC doesn’t resolve. But I was outside the Bagdad Theater in Portland one night when I saw a man playing the saxophone. I stood there for fifteen minutes, and he never opened his eyes.

After that I liked jazz music.
Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way.
I used to not like God because God didn’t resolve. But that was before any of this happened.” (p.ix)

Left behind …

Sorry, not a commentary on the ever popular Tim LaHaye series, not even connected.

I spoke with a friend of mine from college days. We roomed together at OBU. He still plays a little basketball as do I. Playing after 40 is both fun and difficult. There were days when what I intended to do in my mind could easily be accomplished physically. I did not say with success. Now my left knee hurts because I believed I could do at 40 what I could at 20 or even 30. There are times I feel left behind. A younger player steals a ball and I cannot catch him or a pass whizzes by and I intended to get it but did not get there – just a little late.

Over ten years ago I finished Doctoral work at Southwestern Seminary. I found out in some of my first seminars I was behind. I was younger and maybe more energetic so it was not physical. I passed all the entrance requirements like the others so it was not intellectual – I don’t think. I simply did not have the same information. Books had been written I knew nothing about that would be a great help to pastor/minister/study etc. I had not read them, did not know they were out there.

I called the Seminary and sought a way to get current reading lists. While Solomon wrote there was nothing new under the sun, our times change and finding ways to apply truth or understand life as we now know it comes with different peculiarities and nuances. There just was not enough interest. For years I tried to find ways to keep current. I attended seminars at the seminary and that helped.

A couple of years ago I participated in a learning journey that sated my desire to hear what God is doing in the world and in the church. A phrase kept ringing in my ears – lifelong learning. I finally found a way to describe what I longed for – continued learning and challenge. I find this the life of the disciple. Jesus calls us to a life long journey of learning, what it means to follow him and be his. There are days when my energy wanes and I feel a bit behind. During those times I have found spiritual practices helping keep me focused.

I have been working with a friend to find ways to helps seminaries move to the edge; a way to keep them connnected with what God is doing in and around the world and how we should respond. We met with Fuller Theological Seminary and will be contracting with them to provide ongoing learning opportunities. We will instill in young leaders, pastors, church planters that a piece of paper on a wall does not mean you have learned all you need to follow Jesus – keep learning. Hopefully we will help others not feel “left behind.”

Some of you have known about this “project.” Thank you for your prayers. Keep praying God will lead. We want pastors to be fresh and invigorated learning what God is doing around the world in hearts as well as minds – careful not to separate the two!

What language do you speak …

Language presents some interesting conundrums. “Conundrum” – a paradoxical, insoluable, or difficult problem; a dilemma.” We play games with language. “What did you mean by that?” expresses -an interogative question to clarify a statment. Arguments often stem from the collision of one’s world of language with that of another. Ron Martoia responded in an interview,

I’m in the middle of an intentional “re-lexiconning” of Christianity. The well-worn categories and definitions of Christianity have been so diluted that they’ve lost their power. If you ask a hundred pastors, “What is the kingdom?” a hundred definitions emerge. If you ask people on the street, “What is the gospel?” you get even more varied definitions. We need to rework the language of Christianity to remain viable in our culture.

We do not mind “re-lexiconning” but we do not want to consider what this means when we hope to communicate Scripture to people who do not speak with the “King’s English.” Someone has likened this disdain from putting the Scripture in modern idioms to asking someone who speaks Spanish to learn English before they can come to faith in Christ.

The New Testament comes to us in “koine” Greek – the language of the common person. You might call it “everyman’s language.” The intent was to make it readable and available for every person. Yet, today we want every person to learn a form of English and expression in English not used anywhere else today. Definitely not “everyman’s language.” If we are going to maintain this posture then everyone needs a Greek New Testament – and needs to learn Greek.

However, we are glad someone has translated the “koine” Greek so we, everyman/everyperson, might understand the Word of God. When someone undertakes to help people hear/understand the Word of God, they stand in a great tradition dating back to the very writing of the Words we value and cherish. So, when people like Eugene Peterson undertake to preserve Scripture by putting it in “everyman’s” language, I applaud.

Some of our young adults around here have been introduced to this project called, The Message.

They have found a “re-invigorating” reading experience. They grew up on another translation. They still read those. Yet, this experience for them helps make the connection in ways not experienced before. It really helps them consider ways of making their faith relevant to those they hope to reach with the gospel of Jesus, the Christ.

A new perspective does not diminsh the value – it enhances.

Informed decisions …

The article I am investigating came in the form of an editorial on impending action to be taken by the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee. People need to have as much information as they can before making a decision. Great advice for churches – both leadership and members alike. It appears that in a couple of weeks the Executive Committee will vote to “defund” the Baptist World Alliance. No formal report has been given. A preliminary report provided to the BWA is circulating.

A quick read of the preliminary report seems to indicate an attempt to hold the BWA responsible for a renegade notion or two. Questions arise as to what is the nature of the association of churches participating in the BWA. And, is it possible to reign in every Baptist Christian represented by the BWA. It is not possible, though attempted, in the SBC. For instance, when we agree to associate under a confessional banner, we leave room for some levels of differing interpretations. Certainly we want to hold fast to what would be considered “core” doctrines of the faith. But, in some matters there will by design be “disagreement” on “non-core” issues. This happens in our churches and cannot be kept from institutions.

Were we a “creedal” group there would be an easier means of dealing with differences on the periphery. Some will take exception with my use of the word periphery when it comes to certain doctrines. For example, some would make the role of women in ministry a matter of fellowship. So as to imply that one might not be a “true” follower of Christ if the “right” position were not taken. And yet, when it comes to Scripture, one’s coming to faith in Christ is not equated with one’s position on the role of women. Regardless of my position or yours, there is no scriptural grounds for impugning one’s character much less their position before Christ.

Likely the real issue has something to do with personalities and their differences. These are the tough ones, especially when it comes to religious/spiritual contexts. That is why, the best advice is gather all the informaiton you can before making your decision.

I am still gathering information. It might be a good habit to develop for all of our decisions. Before jumping off, take the time to become informed. To neglect to do so leaves you imperiled by emotion and lacking in good reason.

Investiaging an article …

I am going to investigate the sources of an article I read last week. I will let you know how it comes out. Informed decisions are the best decisions.