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Shoes Can Take You Anywhere

Good Shoes

Mama says they was magic shoes. They could take me anywhere. – Forrest Gump

Warfare always requires walking. And often, it requires running. Either way, good shoes are essential.

Shoes offer us protection. Any parent who has stepped on a lego checking on their kids at night understands this. They protect our feet from the harsh ground on which we walk, from the elements, and from infection and disease. In the same way, it is the gospel that brings peace that has covered us with an eternal and irreversible protection.

Shoes also take us places, as does the gospel. The freedom we find in the good news of Jesus initiates an adventure of unimaginable wonder.

And shoes leave prints – a record of where our steps have taken us. When we walk in the power of the gospel, we leave a mark on the places we go, or at least the gospel itself does. It changes everything around us.

So…

Lace up. Value the gospel and know it intimately. Wrap it around you tightly and securely. Walk around in it daily and spread peace wherever you go.

And in the security and serenity of the gospel’s peace, walk confidently, run freely, and dance gracefully.

photo credit: Môsieur J.

To God’s People: In Times of Gloom… Shine!

No Snow, Just RainbowsEarly mid-morning yesterday, reports began trickling in from various sources that Walmart was laying off people from the home office (located here in Bentonville, Arkansas). By day’s end, I think the number was around 850, maybe more. Walmart, McDonald’s, and Dunkin’ Donuts were three of the only companies that I had read about in the last month or two that seemed to be doing well in the midst of the recession.

Something about the news reports, emails, and phone calls brought a sense of locality to the recession – it has hit the somewhat shielded northwest Arkansas economy now. Like an approaching thunderstorm, it’s here on top of us now. So the clouds have gathered. The thunder rumbles. Jobless people lie awake at night wondering where they will go next.

Poverty isn’t a new challenge to the church. In the New Testament, an interesting story unfolds about the church in Jerusalem’s suffering. People didn’t know where their next meal would come from. The churches across Macedonia (ancient Greece) were suffering from th economic downturn as well, but they responded in an amazing way… they gave. Without ever knowing or meeting their family-in-Christ across the Mediterranean, they dug deep into their pockets (and their hearts) and gave. Paul said it this way…

For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power (ability) they were willing of themselves; praying us with much entreaty (begging us) that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. ~ 2 Corithians 8:3-4 KJV (emphasis mine)

In dark times, God’s people have the opportunity to shine! How?

  • By realizing and valuing the connections we have with the eternal family of God, regardless of geographic, cultural, and racial distances.
  • By praying… after all, God has obligated Himself to do certain things only in response to prayer.
  • By giving… even until it hurts.

I’m proud to be a part of Bethel Baptist Church in Bentonville. I’ve watched us give away about 1,000 pair of shoes in the last year. We’ve helped families within our church family, and without. Our people have made themselves available to neighbors and friends in whatever way is most helpful. And we’re in the planning stages of a major food supply initiative in our community.

We chose the slogan “the church on the hill” for two reasons. One, we’re on a hill and that’s how people identify us… “Yeah, you guys are that church on the hill!” Yep, that’s us. But then there is the issue of our mission within our community. Jesus said “a city set on a hill cannot be hid.” He went on to challenge God’s people to “so let your light shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” That’s the real reason I’m proud to be a part of the church on the hill.

So, God’s people, shine. Pray, give, love, go, and tell the life-changing story of Jesus. Interrupt the darkness with some real sunshine!

Creative Commons License photo credit: macfanmd

Stories About Giving… Starting with Shoes

Shoe GiveawayThis past Sunday, I talked about giving. Toward the end of the message, I challenged people to take off their shoes and leave them at church. We give away shoes several times per year and hundreds of people come with a need. As people walked out of church barefoot across the cold, hard concrete, they were to feel just a bit of what it is to be homeless and shoeless. So dozens left their shoes and our lobby is now covered with them!

What has really encouraged me is the stories I’ve heard since Sunday. I wanted to relay a few that might encourage you also…

[Read more…]

Everybody’s Got Shoes, My Lord!

Everybody's Got Shoes

That’s a lyric from an old gospel song about needing new shoes to walk around heaven someday. Well today, we gave away almost 500 pair of shoes at Bethel Baptist Church. Two news crews even showed up and we’ll be on the evening news on 2 channels (and I wore horizontal stripes!) – KNWA and 4029. I’ll see if I can find news stories about it later to post, and I’ll also be posting a couple of photos on Bethel’s web site in the next day or two.

This happens to be a difficult time economically in Northwest Arkansas (everywhere in the USA for that matter) and with school starting back, families were in need. It’s an exciting thing to watch kids put shoes on and run around in circles. [Read more…]

In the Beginning

This week is very monumental for me. I am preparing to begin preaching through the entire Bible this Sunday morning. It has been a ministry-long dream. Since reading the autobiography of Dr. W. A. Criswell, who preached through the Scriptures over an almost eighteen year period at First Baptist Church in Dallas, it has seemed an unreachable and impossible task. I can’t tell you how much I’ve thought and prayed about this assignment.

In my mind, I’ve tried to place myself into the shoes of my church members, some of whom may not survive to hear the end of it all in the Revelation. Won’t we get bored? Won’t we get bogged down in the law, the plans of the tabernacle, the genealogical tables? Will people really be interested? Will the messages be relevant to my life? Nobody has asked any of these questions yet, except for me, but they have lingered in my thinking.

Then I think on the positive side. God’s Word is the source of all the divine wisdom we have at our disposal. He grows people through His Word. My calling to ministry is a call to shepherd God’s people by feeding them the truth of God. No book is more special, no other subject matter is appropriate. Why not preach “all the counsel of God?”

One dominating thought, however, is “what if I mess this up?” What if I don’t cover enough material? Life is too short to rely on “do-over’s” and I will probably get only one or two shots at a series like this in my lifetime. From that thought flows the bottom line issue – I have only this life to spend for God’s glory. This may very well be the last series of sermons I ever preach. Will it be worth it in the end? Absolutely! My life and the lives of the people God assigns to me to shepherd will be forever changed and enriched by hearing the whole counsel of God.

The question I’ve come to grips with is, if preaching through the entire Bible in a single series was the only feat I ever accomplished, it would be worth it – I would have to do nothing in addition to it to have fulfilled my calling as a Pastor.

Already, I’ve become familiar with the greatness of modern science. Many Christians today are at war with the scientific community over evolution, the Big Bang, and other modern ideas. I’m not threatened by these, but rather encouraged, albeit for a strange reason. Both of these theories, hard to swallow as they are, actually substantiate the greatness of the Bible. Let me explain…

The Big Bang proposes that the universe is not infinite, that it had a beginning in time. Until 1913, the world thought the universe was infinite, that it had no beginning and would have no end. But because of the discovery that the universe is expanding rapidly, we can postulate that if you work backwards, everything was once together, before the expansion began. In other words, the universe had a starting point. What baffles modern scientists is, what then? What did things look like before the universe began its explosive expansion? To this the Bible says, in the beginning… God!

And what of evolution? Why in the world would I appreciate this crazy and impossible to believe prognostication? Because evolution is really a fragment of a larger idea that there is a logical progression to the development of life on this planet, and that development concurs with the first chapter of Genesis in its order and structure. The only differences are that what science assigns to billions of years really happened in six literal, twenty-four hour days. First the rocks, then water, then marine and plant life, then the beasts of the earth, and finally man. I was taught in Astronomy 101 that all of this took place over about thirteen billion years. The Bible declares God did it in six days. I choose the Bible, but I stand amazed at science’s validation of the order of creation. I’m no more impressed with the Bible, I’m just more impressed with scientists.

Ultimately, what I’m discovering is that Genesis was never intended to be a science or history textbook. It was not intended to stir up debate over the literal nature of the word “day” or whether there was a gap included for the geological ages. Rather, Genesis’ creation account is a hymn of praise to the Creator! Don’t miss this. The story of creation wasn’t given so that we might use it as a source of scientific data (though I believe its perfect, literal accuracy). It was given that we might know our Creator, be impressed with His creative acts, and choose to serve and glorify Him for eternity!

What an awesome discovery for me! I can’t wait to share it all with the congregation of Bethel Baptist Church. Please pray that I will have the necessary time to invest in the study of God’s Word so that I might not fail to present the whole counsel of God with pastoral wisdom and compassion. Pray that I’ll always see the relevance of each passage to our daily living. Pray that lives will be changed for the glory of God as we “journey through the word” together!