Monday, December 27, 2010

Francis Chan's Tremendous Example


“Christian famous” pastor quits his church, moves to Asia
By, Eric Marrapodi, CNN


He pastored a 4,000-member church in California. He was a sought-after speaker at major conferences, wrote two best-sellers and launched a DVD teaching series.

Then he abruptly resigned and left the country.

But in Francis Chan’s unexpected journey there apparently is no hidden scandal, no money trail, and no ‘other’ woman.

“I just want to disappear for a while,” he said in late September as he prepared to leave Cornerstone Community Church in Simi Valley, California for an undisclosed location in Asia.

Before selling his house and packing up his wife and three children, Chan was becoming “Christian famous” in Evangelical circles.

“Even in my own church I heard the words, ‘Francis Chan’ more than I heard the words, ‘Holy Spirit’,” he said.

That was a big part of the reason he walked away at the peak of his professional career.

“I think there has been too much emphasis on me. I want to be used by God, but I think we have this desire to make heroes out of people rather than following God and the Holy Spirit.”
For the rest of the article, click here.

Later on in the article it says, "His fame was straining his work as a pastor." Note that his church was continuing to grow, he did not have a problem delegating, or caught in some scandal. He simply viewed his image as detracting from God, so he walked away for a season. It is my hope and desire to make Jesus famous, and now there is an example to make sure He is always more important than me!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Is December 25 Really Jesus' Birthday?


The reality of Jesus’ birth – Jesus was not born of December 25, in fact the true date is not known (most think it is April or August). It is clear from the scriptures and history that it was not in December. Shepherds did not spend the chilly December nights on the hills in that part of the world, they took their sheep inside to shelter overnight and out again in the morning.

During the 4th century the Church of Rome decided to celebrate Christ’s birth during the winter solstice in an attempt to Christianize these popular pagan celebrations. These popular Roman pagan festivals of celebration, drunkenness and making merry ran from December 17-24. Gifts were exchanged and on the 25th they would celebrate “The Birth of Unconquerable Sun.”

We celebrate the marvelous story of the birth of Jesus Christ at this time to point the eyes of men on the true birth of the Conquering Son Jesus! Our goal is to turn the eyes of all men upon the true Creator and Son of God, Son of Man, Jesus. As you think of December 25, do so with joy in your heart as we realize that Jesus came to change that which is evil into good… Christmas on the 25th of December screams of His mission, which is our mission as well!

For me, this makes December 25 even more special than before
.

Other Articles on the Topic:
Biblical Archaeology.
Grace To You.
Just Ask.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Discover Hope Sermon Series


This Christmas we had a series called, "Discover Hope." The first sermon contrasted the difference between Jesus' home in heaven, on earth, and in our hearts. The second message dealt with Hope in Hardships and how we as believers can rejoice in sufferings... as backwards as that may sound. Last Sunday, we took at look at Revelation 5 and how we need to Stop, Drop, & Roll more often than we might think! It was fun to have the opportunity to preach this series.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My Top 10

A friend of mine recently created an app call My Top 10. It is a Facebook, iPhone, iPad, iPod app that will allow you to like and share your favorite things with others. In addition to that, you also get a visual of the product and an easy link to purchase or find more information out about that product. Here are a couple of videos about how it works. Try Top 10 on Facebook: www.facebook.com/mytopten

My Top 10 Bad Santa from My Top 10 on Vimeo.



My Top 10 How To Video from My Top 10 on Vimeo.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Relocation Highlight

Recently, our church underwent a complete relocation. My favorite part of the new building is the entrance. When you walk in, you see a picture of "Jesus Loves You!" in the form of Him embracing children. It demonstrates our focus on families, children, and the mission of Jesus at First Baptist Jenks. Recently, the company that we used for our artwork focused on the work. Here is a highlight of it:

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Monday, November 15, 2010

Apologizing Well


This is an old post from Scott Hodge worth reading. I thinking admitting when you're wrong is a key aspect of leadership. Although we all want to avoid mistakes, they are bound to happen, and when they do we need to own them! Here is the article:

Apologizing has become somewhat of a lost art, don't you think? And to a large degree it's understandable because no one likes to admit failure - it's humiliating and when done well, there's no room for pride to stick around. Which is why it's so hard to do! Yet.....you know this as well as I do...apologizing well is one of the most powerful gestures we could ever show another human being.

So here's five quick thoughts on how to do it well.

1. Acknowledge your failure.


"I have failed you. I've let you down. I have done wrong."

2. Acknowledge the impact of the failure.

"I have failed you....and as a result, I know I've caused you a lot of pain....I've put you in a very precarious position.....I have hurt you."

What NOT to say: "I'm sorry you were offended by what I did." NO. That sucks. Take responsibility.

3. Tell them you're sorry.

"I've failed you....and I know it has caused you a lot of pain....and I just want you to know that I am truly sorry."


4. Commit to change.


"....and I'll do whatever I can to make sure that never happens again."

5. Be Quiet.

This is where we get into trouble. Because the tendency is to add on:

"I'm sorry....it's just that..."

"I'm sorry....but I didn't mean it!"

"I'm sorry...it's just that you..."


No. Don't make excuses. Don't complicate it. Don't qualify it.

Monday, November 8, 2010

LeBron James Response

In my opinion, the new LeBron commercial is one of the worst attempts to regain credibility that I have ever seen. The city responded in a fair way, especially concerning the pathetic manner he left the team and city he gave up on. Here is Cleveland's response:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

iPhone, Germs, and Public Toilets


Here is a distrubing article on the iPhone and germs.

It’s flu season again and it seems like the biggest carrier of germs could be that sleek little smartphone you just can’t live without.

That’s right. Personal touch-screen devices like iPhones, iPads, Droids and BlackBerrys carry more germs than a toilet in a subway bathroom, according to a study published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology.

And that’s not even the half of it. The study also found that these devices are so good at spreading viruses, that sharing them may be as bad as sneezing in someone’s face.

"If you're sharing the device, then you're sharing your influenza with someone else who touches it," Timothy Julian, a Stanford University doctoral student who co-authored the study, told the Sacramento Bee.

"If you put virus on a surface, like an iPhone, about 30 percent of it will get on your fingertips," Julian said.

And if you’re really worried about getting the flu – stop by your local drug store or call your doctor to get the seasonal flu shot.


This was taken from here.

Friday, October 8, 2010

East Asian Food

Recently, I was in East Asia and here are some pictures of the food I was served:


Octopus, Broccoli, & Egg Plate = Just wrong!


Hot Pot = One of my favorite meals, really good stuff!


Whole fish: bones, head, everything else = Not so much!


Sweet & Sour Prok = Maybe the best I've ever had.


Sushi with Mint Tea = Not bad.


"American Chicken" = Not American, but pretty good.


Seafood Fried Rice = Seafood-y.


Hand Pan Noodles = Not my favorite, thick noodles are gross!


Some sort of Tofu soup = disgusting!


Spicy bloody noodles = had peanuts, I had a taste of the noodles, not good.


Fugnus, not mushroom = No one should ever be forced to eat this under any circumstance!


Ramen Noodles with beef (I think) = Very good.


Fried Chicken with Pepper Sauce = Very good.


McDonald's (gross), KFC (okay), Burger King (eeh), & Dairy Queen = Blizzard!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Why Kids Get Sicker at Night

I saw this article from parenting magazine and wanted to remember it, so I put it on here:

Why Kids Get Sicker at Night
Sickness never comes at a convenient time, but when your child awakens in the middle of the night with distressing symptoms, chaos often follows.

Everyone is half asleep and not thinking clearly. The doctor's office is closed, and you don't know whether you should call and wake him or try to deal with the ailment yourself.

Let's relieve some of the stress of that decision right now: Anytime you think your child's health may be in serious danger -- for instance, he has a high fever and is acting poorly, has trouble breathing, has a strange rash, or is having a seizure -- call your doctor (or 911) immediately. And almost any symptom in a baby under 4 months old merits an immediate call to the doctor, no matter the time.

9 Pediatric Emergency Essentials
So what are you supposed to do the other 97 percent of the time when your child wakes up at 2 A.M. worse off than when he went to bed?

Symptoms of many children's illnesses routinely worsen at night, and though there's nothing life-threatening about them, they can make your child miserable.

Fortunately, with a little planning and the help of our middle-of-the-night health guide, you'll have what you need to get your kid (and you!) feeling better by morning.

Asthma and allergies
Why they're worse at night: If your child has asthma or certain allergies, you're probably all too familiar with the challenges of helping her through the wee hours.

There are many factors at play: "The body's level of cortisol drops at night, and cortisol has some preventive effects on asthma," says Santiago Martinez, M.D., pediatric allergist and clinical assistant professor of medicine at Florida State University Medical School in Tallahassee. Plus, the levels of histamine rise, aggravating many allergy and asthma symptoms. And finally, some allergens, such as dust mites and pet dander, may be more prevalent in a child's room, increasing her exposure while she sleeps.

What to do: If your child has an allergy attack at night, an antihistamine should quell her symptoms (ask your doctor for the best one to have on hand for your child). Should you find that her attacks are frequent and occur year-round, you may want to consider immunotherapy shots, which introduce tiny amounts of the allergen into the body, slowly allowing immunity to build. You can also consider using HEPA filters in your vacuum and a HEPA air filter -- these are designed to trap the minuscule particles that can aggravate symptoms.

Croup
Why it's worse at night: This barking-seal cough is usually the result of a viral infection that has settled in the upper airway and voice box, and typically strikes while the child has a cold. Because it causes swelling of the vocal cords, the cough also may be accompanied by noisy, rapid breathing.

Croup is almost always at its worst at night, partly because blood flow to the respiratory tract changes when a child lies down. Plus, dry air can aggravate it.

Earache
Why it's worse at night: Whether the infection is in the middle ear or in the ear canal (also called swimmer's ear), these puppies can hurt. Lying down increases the collection of fluid and puts extra pressure on the inflamed tissue.

What to do: Ibuprofen (for kids older than 12 months) or acetaminophen can help relieve the ache, but you can also try this remedy for severe pain from middle ear infections: "Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in the microwave so it's warm -- but not hot -- to your touch," says Leeds. "Put two to three drops of the warm oil in your child's affected ear. It relaxes the membranes and brings almost instant relief." Applying a warm, damp washcloth to your child's ear also can help.

Fever
Why it's worse at night: Body temperature rises naturally in the evening, so a fever that was slight during the day can easily spike during sleep.

What to do: First, take your child's temperature (do it rectally if she's under 6 months old -- and, ideally, for as long as she'll allow this method). Any fever above 100.4°F in an infant under 3 months warrants an immediate call to the doctor. Same goes for an elevated temp in any child that's accompanied by lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, stiff neck, or an unusual rash.Otherwise, try a dose of acetaminophen, wait half an hour, and check the temperature again. In the meantime -- and if you're not too delirious -- you can give your child a room-temperature bath to help cool her down. And definitely help her stay hydrated by offering some water (or formula or breast milk if she's a baby) before she goes back to sleep.

Itchy skin
Why it's worse at night: When your child is lying still, it's a whole lot easier to focus on the itchiness, whether it's due to poison ivy, bug bites, eczema, or even sunburn. And if the itchy skin is rooted in some kind of allergy, you've got the higher nighttime levels of histamines to thank.

Dealing with an allergic rash or lots of bites? An antihistamine can bring relief. A topical cortisone cream can help as well, but again, avoid using this type of product before you have specific instructions from your ped.

Stuffy nose

Why it's worse at night: Too bad kids can't sleep standing up like horses -- then their nasal passages wouldn't swell more when they sleep!

What to do: For immediate relief, use saline nose drops or spray. Both will moisten the membranes and loosen the secretions, making it easier for your child to blow out the mucus, or for you to remove it with a bulb syringe if you have a baby.

You may be tempted to offer your child a decongestant, but they're no longer recommended for kids under 2, and many doctors advise against giving them to older kids.

Vomiting

Why it's worse at night: It's not that kids are necessarily more likely to throw up at night; it's more that it feels about ten times worse because you usually end up having to change bedsheets, clean up rugs, change and wash pajamas -- all when you're bone tired. Then you have to worry that it could happen again. (Oh, and it's pretty awful for your kid.)

What to do: First, make sure your child isn't throwing up anything green or bloody; if he is, call the doctor, as this could indicate a more serious condition. Same goes for vomiting accompanied by pain in the lower right side of the abdomen. If he's still awake an hour later but hasn't vomited again, try giving him small sips of flat cola or ginger ale, if you have it.

The middle-of-the-night survival kit: A little preparation can go a long way toward making those 2 A.M. sick calls easier. Some things to have on hand:

In the medicine chest:
• Pain and fever relievers. Stock both children's ibuprofen and children's acetaminophen (or the infant formulations for kids under 2) and jot down the correct dose for each approved by your doctor.
• A children's antihistamine and cortisone cream (with doctor-approved instructions)
• Saline nose drops or spray
• Nasal aspirator
• Medicine dropper
• Prescription pain-relief eardrops (if your child is prone to infections)
• Petroleum jelly
• Digital thermometer

In the kitchen:
• Olive oil
• Canned peaches or pears in syrup
• Ice pops
• Flat cola or ginger ale

In his room:
• Cool-mist humidifier
• Facial tissues

Original post can be found here.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Be Our Guest


When I opened up this email, it struck a nerve with me immediately. It told me that although I was not a part of what was going on with Direct Buy, I could participate… but only for a short while. The main take away for me what how I do not belong, probably the opposite of what was intended to be communicated, but nonetheless it was the message received.

From the start of my time at First Baptist Jenks I have communicated that we have guests, not visitors. The term visitor represents someone that does not really belong. “Visitor” screams of a disconnect between us and them, and is an unfriendly word we need to avoid. When a visitor comes to your house, you stand at the door and listen to what they have to say until you deem the conversation to be over. When a guest visits, you welcome them in, offer them your choice seat, and offer a beverage or even food.

To give credit where credit is due, Disney taught me this through one of my first first employers and their coined phrase, “Be our Guest, Be our Guest…” In church life (and business), we should all strive to make those who grace us with their presence feel like welcome guests, not visitors.

In short, the language we use matters… may we use the right words!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

FASTING AND PRAYER By Pastor Rick Warren

WHAT IS FASTING?
Fasting is a spiritual discipline that is taught in the Bible. Jesus expected His followers to fast, and He said that God rewards fasting. Fasting, according to the Bible, means to voluntarily reduce or eliminate your intake of food for a specific time and purpose.
"When you give up eating, don't put on a sad face like the hypocrites. They make their faces look sad to show people they are giving up eating. I tell you the truth, those hypocrites already have their full reward. So when you give up eating, comb your hair and wash your face. Then people will not know that you are giving up eating, but your Father, whom you cannot see, will see you. Your Father sees what is done in secret, and he will reward you." Matthew 6:16-18 (NCV)

WHY FAST?
There are many good reasons, and even health benefits, for fasting. However, our the 40 Days is for three primary reasons:
1. Fasting gives you more time for prayer. You can use the time you'd normally spend eating as time in prayer for what God wants to do among us during this Campaign.
In the Bible, fasting is always connected with prayer.
"While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, 'Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.' So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off." Acts 13:2-3 (NIV)
2. Fasting demonstrates the depth of your desire when praying for something. It shows you that you are serious enough about your prayer request to pay a personal price. God honors deep desire and praying in faith.
"Declare a holy fast; call a sacred assembly. Summon the elders and all who live in the land to the house of the Lord your God, and cry out to the Lord.” Joel 1:14 (NIV) "Even now," declares the Lord, "return to Me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning." Joel 2:12 (NASB)
3. Fasting releases God's supernatural power. It is a tool we can use when there is opposition to God's will. Satan would like nothing better than to cause division, discouragement, defeat, depression, and doubt among us. United prayer and fasting has always been used by God to deal a decisive blow to the enemy!
"So we fasted and prayed about these concerns. And he listened." Ezra 8:23 (Msg) "God says, "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?" Isaiah 58:6 (NIV)

THE IMPORTANCE OF FASTING
Often in the Bible, God's people fasted immediately before a major victory, miracle, or answer to prayer. It prepared them for a blessing!
• Moses fasted before he received the Ten Commandments.
"Moses was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant--the Ten Commandments." Exodus 34:28 (NIV)
• The Israelites fasted before a miraculous victory.
"Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, "A vast army is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the Sea. It is already in Hazazon Tamar" (that is, En Gedi). Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah." 2 Chronicles 20:2-3 (NIV)
• Daniel fasted in order to receive guidance from God.
"So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes." Daniel 9:3 (NIV)
"While I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came tome in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice. He instructed me and said to me, 'Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding.'" Daniel 9:21-22 (NIV)
• Nehemiah fasted before beginning a major building project.
"When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven." Nehemiah 1:4 (NIV)
• Jesus fasted during His victory over temptation.
"For forty wilderness days and nights he was tested by the Devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when the time was up he was hungry." Luke 4:2 (Msg)
• The first Christians fasted during-decision making times.
"While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, 'Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.' So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off." Acts 13:2-3 (NIV)

TWO CAUTIONS
1. Remember that fasting is not "earning" an answer to prayer. God cannot be blackmailed by human effort. God wants to answer our prayers and He answers out of grace. Fasting simply prepares us for God's answer.
2. Fast only if your health allows it at this time. If you are able to do only a partial fast - do it in faith and God will honor your intentions.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

40 Days of Prayer & Fasting


Our (First Baptist Jenks) 40 Days of Prayer and Fasting Begins tomorrow, here is an online copy of the guide:

40 Days of Prayer & Fasting (For our Relocation)
Wednesday, August 4 – Pray for Dependence (John 15:5)
Thursday, August 5 – Pray & Fast for Unity (Ephesians 4:1-3)
Friday, August 6 – Pray for Love (1 Corinthians 13)
Saturday, August 7 – Pray for our Community (Matthew 25:31-46)
Sunday, August 8 – Pray for Church (Mark 8:27-30)
Monday, August 9 – Pray for Boldness (John 14:12-15)
Tuesday, August 10 – Pray for Kindness (Romans 2:4)
Wednesday, August 11 – Pray for Sanctification (John 17:17)
Thursday, August 12 – Pray & Fast for Greater Things (John 14:12)
Friday, August 13 – Pray for our Foundation (1 Corinthians 3:11)
Saturday, August 14 – Pray for Preparation (1 John 5:14-15)
Sunday, August 15 – Pray for Blessing (Isaiah 43:19)
Monday, August 16 – Pray for Protection (Luke 10:3)
Tuesday, August 17 – Pray for Action (Matthew 7:24-27)
Wednesday, August 18 – Pray for Fruit (Galatians 5:22-24)
Thursday, August 19 – Pray & Fast for Repentance (Titus 2:11-14)
Friday, August 20 – Pray for Proof (James 1:22)
Saturday, August 21 – Pray for Perseverance (James 1:12)
Sunday, August 22 – Pray for Baptisms (Matt. 16:18-19)
Monday, August 23 – Pray for Effectiveness (1 John 4:9)
Tuesday, August 24 – Pray for Finances (1 Corinthians 16:1-4)
Wednesday, August 25 – Pray for Marriages (1Corinthians 7:1-5)
Thursday, August 26 – Pray & Fast for Freedom (Romans 8:1)
Friday, August 27 – Pray for Resolve (Matthew 18:19)
Saturday, August 28 – Pray for Wisdom (Proverbs 1:7)
Sunday, August 29 – Pray for Salvations (Matt. 16:18-19)
Monday, August 30 – Pray for Righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Tuesday, August 31 – Pray for Giving (2 Corinthians 8:3-5)
Wednesday, September 1 – Pray for Endurance (Matthew 11:28-30)
Thursday, September 2 – Pray & Fast for Life-Changes (Ephesians 2:8)
Friday, September 3 – Pray for Graciousness (Romans 8:32)
Saturday, September 4 – Pray for Offering of Self (I John 4:10-12)
Sunday, September 5 – Pray for Strength (Joshua 1:9)
Monday, September 6 – Pray for Prayerfulness (Philippians 4:4-7)
Tuesday, September 7 – Pray for Holiness (Romans 12:1-2)
Wednesday, September 8 – Pray for Evangelism & Discipleship (Matthew 28: 19-20)
Thursday, September 9 – Pray & Fast for Service (1 Peter 4:10-11)
Friday, September 10 – Pray for Peace (John 14:27)
Saturday, September 11 – Pray for Power (Matt. 16:18-19)
Sunday, September 12 – Pray for Impact (2 Corinthians 4:5-6)

Monday, July 19, 2010

No Such Thing as "the Gift of Evangelism" by Ed Stetzer


This is from Ed Stetzer's blog: Recently, I spoke at the Church of God Triennial meeting in Decatur, IL. One of the things I talked about was my belief that there is no such thing as "the gift of evangelism." Part of my concern is that I hear many people saying they don't have the "gift of evangelism" and thus believing it is not their responsibility to do evangelism (since they don't have the "gift"). And, since evangelism can be a challenge at times, that seems to be a "gift" that people don't want.

In the mid-90s, a well-known leader who created a "spiritual gifts test," told me that about 10% of people have the gift of evangelism. Yet, that number seems to be on decline. Barna recently released research saying, "Among the interesting facets of the research was that just 1% of believers claim to have the gift of evangelism (down from 4% five years ago)."

Hmmmmm.

I don't think this means there is a widespread growing realization that no one has the gift of evangelism. My best guess is that it is because people are talking themselves out of their obligation to do evangelism.

I think that the current challenge of evangelism is why an increasing number of people do not think they have the gift.

Here are four proposals I made at that meeting.

1. All believers are given the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18). That is, their role is to be agents of reconciliation and share how men and women are to be redeemed and changed by the power of the gospel.

2. Timothy was called to do his work in evangelistic ways (2 Timothy 4:5) but based on the fact that all are called to present the gospel of reconciliation, it makes sense that we can heed that admonition in all our lives. Thus, I encourage pastors to do ministry in evangelistic ways, but particularly church leaders (since Timothy was a church leader). Like in 1 Timothy 3, leaders are almost always commanded to do the things believers do-- just more so.

3. The church is gifted with evangelists (Eph. 4:11) who help us be faithful doing evangelism. We should talk more about the gifted people called evangelists.

4. It is unhelpful to refer to evangelism as a gift because it removes the responsibility of all believers. In other words, many think that if they don't have the gift, it is not their job. Evangelism is not a gift, it is a call to all believers.


What do you think?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Keys to the Kingdom


I've decided to start posting the sermons I preach on my blog. They will be listed on the right side bar (-->) from now on, and perhaps as a main post as well. Click on the Keys to the Kingdom for Sundays Message from Matthew 16:13-20.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Epcot for Preschoolers: My Suggested Preschool Tour (2 of 2)


This is my Epcot Preschool Touring Guide. If you are not spending multiple days at Disney World, do not waste your time here, stay at Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom. If you have 4 days or more, Epcot will be well worth your time! Here is my Epcot Preschool Touring Guide:

1. Test Track (if you child is 40” or taller)
2. Epcot Character Spot
3. The Seas with Nemo & Friends
4. Turtle Talk With Crush
5. Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros (Mexico)
6. Stop in the Mayan Ruins to make a mask for your child – this will give them something to do and keep them entertained… and it’s free! You can get this stamped at each country if you so choose, but you will have to decide if that is worth it to you or not, we got 2 stamps and were more than satisfied.
7. Character Meet & Greets
8. Stop in Japan for Kaki Gore (snow cone) at a kiosk as you enter
9. Finish your Character Meet & Greets and head back to your hotel!
10. After your rest & relaxation, head to a different theme park.

Helpful tips:
• Arrive at the park by 8:15AM or 45 minutes before it opens.
• Arrive at the park by 8:15AM or 45 minutes before it opens.
• Arrive at the park by 8:15AM or 45 minutes before it opens.
• Purchase your tickets before your get to the park.
• Take advantage of the Disney photographers. Even if you do not purchase their photos, they will also take pictures for you, so do not be afraid to ask them to do so!
• Bring your own snacks – Disney allows you to brings food and dinks (at least plastic bottles) into the parks
• Stop for a Kaki Gore (snow cone) at a kiosk as you enter Japan, probably the most reasonably priced item in all of Disney World.
• Purchase most of your souvenirs from Magic Kingdom, but know Target has cheaper items just down the road.
• If you do not get a park hopper pass, do not go to Epcot, no way it is worth it. If you do get a park hopper pass, only spend a morning here.

Related Articles:
Magic Kingdom for Preschoolers: Best and Worst
Disney World for Preschoolers

Epcot for Preschoolers: Best and Worst (1 of 2)


Epcot is hard to judge for preschoolers. While the rides are not very friendly, we found this to be the best place for our kids to meet the Disney characters. In fact, they met everyone they cared to meet here: Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofey, Mulan, Jasmine, Snow White, and more. So I would agree with the majority who say this park is not toddler friendly, but I think Disney has as countered that by creating an environment where children can meet all the characters without waiting in long line (aside from Epcot Character Spot).

Please keep in mind that this is based upon the Preschooler’s (birth-5) experience and not older kids. There were no rides worthwhile for our children. Our 4 year old did enjoy Test Track, but our 2 year old was not tall enough to ride it, thus it was an overall fail. Neither child road Soarin. The other rides were blah at best.

Even with the fact that Epcot is not really kid friendly, I would recommend for you to bring your preschooler here for a morning. You can meet the beloved Disney characters, head back to your hotel for rest and relaxation, then spend you evening at a fun park (I would suggest going to Magic Kingdom in the evening for some attractions, the parade and fireworks display). Here is my best and worst preschooler’s guide for Epcot:

Best Rides
1. Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros (Mexico)
2. The Seas with Nemo & Friends
3. Test Track (40’ minimum height)


Best Shows/Attractions
1. Epcot Character Spot
2. Character Meet & Greets (each country has a different character – i.e. meet Snow White in Germany. A list of character meeting times is available upon arrival to the park, along with a map)
3. Turtle Talk with Crush

Worst Rides
1. Maelstrom – as boring as Norway
2. Soarin – Great for children, not preschoolers
3. All the other shows and rides toddlers find boring or are too little for

Worst Shows
• Take you pick of those not listed on the best shows!

Helpful tips:
• Arrive at the park by 8:15AM or 45 minutes before it opens.
• Arrive at the park by 8:15AM or 45 minutes before it opens.
• Arrive at the park by 8:15AM or 45 minutes before it opens.
• Purchase your tickets before your get to the park.
• Take advantage of the Disney photographers. Even if you do not purchase their photos, they will also take pictures for you, so do not be afraid to ask them to do so!
• Bring your own snacks – Disney allows you to brings food and dinks (at least plastic bottles) into the parks
Stop for a Kaki Gore (snow cone) at a kiosk as you enter Japan, probably the most reasonably priced item in all of Disney World.
• Purchase most of your souvenirs from Magic Kingdom, but know Target has cheaper items just down the road.
• If you are there for more than one day, leave the park for a few hours in the afternoon to rest, eat, swim, relax, and head back… you will still have plenty of time to do everything in 2 days at Magic Kingdom with your preschoolers.

Related Articles:
Magic Kingdom for Preschoolers: Best and Worst
Disney World for Preschoolers

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Animal Kingdom for Preschoolers: My Suggested Preschool Tour (2 of 2)


If there was a park where I wished we had spent more time, it would be Animal Kingdom. We made some poor decisions with our time, but still thoroughly enjoyed this theme park because our kids loved it so much.

Here is my Animal Kingdom Preschool Touring Guide:
1. Kilimanjaro Safaris – Go early for your best chance to see the animals
2. Camp Minnie-Mickey – let your kids dance and play with the characters, and participate in story time with Pocchohantas
3. Festival of the Lion King – Best show at Disney World
4. Kali River Rapids
5. TriceraTop Spin
6. The Boneyard
7. Finding Nemo-The Musical
* To be fair, this is a half-day touring plan based on our experience.


Helpful tips:
• Arrive at the park by 8:15AM or 45 minutes before it opens.
• Arrive at the park by 8:15AM or 45 minutes before it opens.
• Arrive at the park by 8:15AM or 45 minutes before it opens.
• Purchase your tickets before your get to the park.
• Take advantage of the Disney photographers. Even if you do not purchase their photos, they will also take pictures for you, so do not be afraid to ask them to do so!
• Bring your own snacks – Disney allows you to brings food and dinks (at least plastic bottles) into the parks
• Purchase most of your souvenirs from Magic Kingdom, but know Target has cheaper items just down the road.
•Take your time and enjoy Camp Minnie-Mickey. Your kids will love dancing and playing with the characters, as well as story time with Pocahontas.


Related Articles:
Magic Kingdom for Preschoolers: Best and Worst
Disney World for Preschoolers

Animal Kingdom for Preschoolers: Best and Worst (1 of 2)


When we were preparing to go to Disney World we were told to avoid Animal Kingdom. The consensus told us that there was too much walking and that it simply was not worth the time… they were TOTALLY WRONG! Animal Kingdom was fantastic.

Their unique approach to theme parks and the real life animals made this one of our favorite spots of the entire trip. The only problem with Animal Kingdom is that it has probably ruined our Tulsa Zoo experience, which wouldn’t take much to do anyways.

As with any of the Disney theme parks, it is important to get their early to beat long lines at the premier attractions. Also, the fast passes are inactive here for some reason, which was annoying to me! Finally, be prepared to have a great time. While you will have to walk from place to place, it was not overwhelming for us or our preschoolers. Here is the Best and Worst list for Preschoolers at Animal Kingdom:

Best Rides:
1. Kilimanjaro Safaris
2. Kali River Rapids
3. TriceraTop Spin


Best Attractions:
1. Camp Minnie-Mickey – there is a stage on the left as you enter the park where you preschooler can dance, sing, and have story time Pocahontas
2. Festival of the Lion King
3. Finding Nemo-The Musical – know this show was a little long, still worth seeing though

Worst Rides:
1. Rafiki’s Planet Watch = waste of time

Worst Attractions:
1. All walking trails – our kids did not care to search for animals, plus this is the part that can tire everyone out.
2. It’s Tough to Be a Bug – Great for older children, too much for preschoolers

Helpful tips:
• Arrive at the park by 8:15AM or 45 minutes before it opens.
• Arrive at the park by 8:15AM or 45 minutes before it opens.
• Arrive at the park by 8:15AM or 45 minutes before it opens.
• Purchase your tickets before your get to the park.
• Take advantage of the Disney photographers. Even if you do not purchase their photos, they will also take pictures for you, so do not be afraid to ask them to do so!
• Bring your own snacks – Disney allows you to brings food and dinks (at least plastic bottles) into the parks
• Purchase most of your souvenirs from Magic Kingdom, but know Target has cheaper items just down the road.
•Take your time and enjoy Camp Minnie-Mickey. Your kids will love dancing and playing with the characters, as well as story time with Pocahontas.

Related Articles:
Magic Kingdom for Preschoolers: Best and Worst
Disney World for Preschoolers

Monday, July 12, 2010

Magic Kingdom for Preschoolers: My Suggested Preschool Tour (2 of 2)


This is my Magic Kingdom Preschool Touring Guide. If you are planning on spending multiple days at Magic Kingdom, do what you can the first day and do the rest the second day. Whatever you do, stay late one night to catch "Summer Nightastic Fireworks," you will be glad you did!

My Suggested Preschool Tour:
1. Dumbo the Flying Elephant
2. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (Indoor)
3. “It’s a Small World” (Indoor)
4. Prince Charming Regal Carrousel
5. Fairytale Garden – Storytime with Belle
6. Jungle Cruise
7. The magic Carpets of Aladdin
8. Lunch at Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Café
9. Country Bear Jamboree
10. Take Walt Disney World Railroad from Frontierland to Mickey’s Toontown Fair
11. Toontown Hall of Fame Tent (Meet the Princesses)
12. The Barnstormer at Goofy’s Wiseacre
13. Tour Mickey & Minnie’s house
14. Mad Tea Party
15. Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe
16. Tomorrowland Speedway
17. Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin (Indoor)
18. Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor
19. Nighttime Electrical Parade
20. Summer Nightastic Fireworks

Helpful tips:
• Arrive at the park by 8:15AM or 45 minutes before it opens.
• Arrive at the park by 8:15AM or 45 minutes before it opens.
• Arrive at the park by 8:15AM or 45 minutes before it opens.
• Purchase your tickets before your get to the park.
• Take advantage of the Disney photographers. Even if you do not purchase their photos, they will also take pictures for you, so do not be afraid to ask them to do so!
• Bring your own snacks – Disney allows you to brings food and dinks (at least plastic bottles) into the parks
• Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Café – reasonably priced, roomy, good selection = best place in the park to eat!
• Purchase most of your souvenirs from Magic Kingdom, but know Target has cheaper items just down the road.
• If you are there for more than one day, leave the park for a few hours in the afternoon to rest, eat, swim, relax, and head back… you will still have plenty of time to do everything in 2 days at Magic Kingdom with your preschoolers.
• Stay for the Nighttime Electrical Parade and Fireworks.

Magic Kingdom for Preschoolers: Best and Worst with Tips (1 of 2)


Best Rides for Preschoolers:
1. The magic Carpets of Aladdin
2. Mad Tea Party
3. Dumbo the Flying Elephant
4. “It’s a Small World” (Indoor)
5. Prince Charming Regal Carrousel
6. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (Indoor)
7. Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin (Indoor)
8. Tomorrowland Speedway
9. Jungle Cruise
10. The Barnstormer at Goofy’s Wiseacre
11. Walt Disney World Railroad – not exciting, but gives you rest

Best Shows for Preschoolers:
1. Summer Nightastic Fireworks
2. Country Bear Jamboree
3. Fairytale Garden – Storytime with Belle
4. Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor
5. Nighttime Electrical Parade

Worst Rides for Preschoolers:
1. Snow White’s Scary Adventure – title says it all
2. Tom Sawyer Island – a total waste for little ones
3. Pirates of the Caribbean – too much for preschoolers

Worst Shows for Preschoolers
1. Mickey's PhilharMagic – the 3D freaked out my kids
2. The Enchanted Tiki Room Under New Management – inappropriate and uninspired

Helpful tips:
• Arrive at the park by 8:15AM or 45 minutes before it opens.
• Arrive at the park by 8:15AM or 45 minutes before it opens.
• Arrive at the park by 8:15AM or 45 minutes before it opens.
• Purchase your tickets before your get to the park.
• Take advantage of the Disney photographers. Even if you do not purchase their photos, they will also take pictures for you, so do not be afraid to ask them to do so!
• Bring your own snacks – Disney allows you to brings food and dinks (at least plastic bottles) into the parks
• Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Café – reasonably priced, roomy, good selection = best place in the park to eat!
• Purchase most of your souvenirs from Magic Kingdom, but know Target has cheaper items just down the road.
• If you are there for more than one day, leave the park for a few hours in the afternoon to rest, eat, swim, relax, and head back… you will still have plenty of time to do everything in 2 days at Magic Kingdom with your preschoolers.
• Stay for the Nighttime Electrical Parade and Fireworks.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Disney World for Preschoolers


Last month my family had the opportunity to go to Disneyworld. When we told our kids that they would be able to meet Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and the Princesses (for my daughter), they were elated (as were we)! My wife did her due diligence in researching the parks, finding out all the helpful information, and even finding “touring plans.” My first thought was that she was doing way too much work for what was supposed to be a relaxing time, but I was WAY WRONG!

We read through some online websites and the Unofficial Guide To Disneyworld. Through this we found some very helpful advice, but there was much to be learned by experience. This series of blog posts is intended to help parents with preschoolers plan for a fun trip to Disneyworld.

Throughout this series, it is of the utmost importance to remember a few things:
• This is for preschoolers (2-5 not older kids)
• Keep it Fun
• Understand you will sweat, a bunch
• You, your kids, and others are all going to get warn out
• Keep your cool when others don’t
• Don’t be a jerk – like pushing your way past others
• Disneyworld should be experienced by every child!

Helpful tips:
• Arrive at the park by 8:15AM or 45 minutes before it opens.
• Arrive at the park by 8:15AM or 45 minutes before it opens.
• Arrive at the park by 8:15AM or 45 minutes before it opens.
• Purchase your tickets before your get to the park.
• Take advantage of the Disney photographers. Even if you do not purchase their photos, they will also take pictures for you, so do not be afraid to ask them to do so!
• Bring your own snacks – Disney allows you to brings food and dinks (at least plastic bottles) into the parks
• Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Café – reasonably priced, roomy, good selection = best place in the park to eat!
• Purchase most of your souvenirs from Magic Kingdom, but know Target has cheaper items just down the road.
• If you are there for more than one day, leave the park for a few hours in the afternoon to rest, eat, swim, relax, and head back… you will still have plenty of time to do everything in 2 days at Magic Kingdom with your preschoolers.
• Stay for the Nighttime Electrical Parade and Fireworks.

Friday, July 2, 2010

47 Best Church Practices

I found this series interesting and have wanted to share it. Mark Waltz shares his "47 Best Church Practices," and I wanted to share the overview with you. You can find all the article here: Mark Waltz

#1: Create Your Own Best Practices | Feb 12, 2010
#2: Pray | Feb 11, 2010
#3: Vision… Say It Again… and Again | Feb 10, 2010
#4: Learn from the Marketplace | Feb 9, 2010
#5: Get Unstuck | Feb 8, 2010
#6: Follow-up | Feb 1, 2010
#7: Plan the Understated | Dec 17, 2009
#8: Don’t Just Fix It | Dec 17, 2009
#9: Listen to Complaints | Dec 17, 2009
#10: Imitate Jesus’ Attitude | Nov 18, 2009
#11: Value Your Volunteers | Nov 10, 2009
#12: Expect New People | Nov 9, 2009
#13: Make Room | Nov 5, 2009
#14: Get Dressed! | Nov 4, 2009
#15: Tell Stories | Nov 3, 2009
#16: Diversify | Oct 27, 2009
#17: Create a Schedule | Oct 23, 2009
#18: Surprise Your Guests | Oct 22, 2009
#19: Think “One Chance” | Oct 12, 2009
#20: Team is More than Task | Oct 9, 2009
#21: Hang a Sign | Oct 8, 2009
#22: Everyone Can Greet! | Oct 7, 2009
#23: Stock Toilet Paper | Oct 6, 2009
#24: Answer the Phone | Oct 5, 2009
#25: Be in the Moment | Sept 24, 2009
#26: It’s Not About You | Sept 24, 2009
#27: Bust Up Your Party | Sept 24, 2009
#28: Brew Good Coffee | Sept 22, 2009
#29: Meet Them Where They Are | Sept 22, 2009
#30: Use Real Language | Sept 20, 2009
#31: Build a “I’ve Been Here” Space | Sept 21, 2009
#32: Don’t Forget the Kids | Sept 21, 2009
#33: Thank Your Guests | Sept 21, 2009
#34: Serve with Friends | Sept 11, 2009
#35: Have Fun | Sept 8, 2009
#36: Smile. Just Smile. | Sept 3, 2009
#37: Say “No” Creatively | Sept 1, 2009
#38: Ask for Feedback | Aug 20, 2009
#39: Make Everyone a Host | Aug 17, 2009
#40: You’re Always On | Aug 13, 2009
#41: Keep It Clean | Aug 12, 2009
#42: Never Assume | Aug 11, 2009
#43: Let ‘Em Lead | Aug 7, 2009
#44: Information Matters | Aug 6, 2009
#45: Understand Base Fears | Aug 5, 2009
#46: Names = Value | Aug 4, 2009
#47: Read Body Language | Aug 3, 2009

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

My Condition: Alopecia Areata

2 or 3 months ago I noticed that a spot of hair on my chin had turned white. At the time I simply thought I was getting older and did not pay it much attention at all. Then one day, I noticed the white hairs were gone and I had an odd bald spot on my face.

My initial thought was that my kidneys were failing (or had some sort of cancer) and was dying – while that may seem humorous, it was my legitimate fear/thought. Fortunately, I already had a dermatologist appointment scheduled and saw my doctor a few days later. The good news is that I am not dying and this is not a life-threatening diesease.

He looked at it, examined me, and diagnosed me with a disease called Alopecia Areata. It is a condition that causes round patched of hair loss. While only my chin is affected now, it can lead to loss of all scalp and body hair! Anyway, I bring this about to let the world know that I am aware of the bald spot on my chin. According to my doctor is it brought about by stress (thank you very much and I stressing out about trying to relax now ) and he thinks it will be a temporary thing. Anyway, if you have any more questions, here are some highlights and links about Alopecia Areata:

• No fully effective treatments are available.
• Irritating drugs may be applied to hairless areas to cause the hair to regrow (my treatment)
• The cause of alopecia areata is unknown (1/5 of people with this condition have a family history)
• Full recovery of hair is common.
Google Health’s Breakdown.
Miss Delaware has it.
• Alopecia Areata according Wikipedia
eMedicine’s Breakdown

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

21 Things You Should Never Buy New


This is an interesting article taken from Yahoo finance: If you're looking to get the most value for your dollar, it would do your wallet good to check out secondhand options. Many used goods still have plenty of life left in them even years after the original purchase, and they're usually resold at a fraction of the retail price, to boot.

Here's a list of 21 things that make for a better deal when you buy them used:

1. DVDs and CDs
2. Books
3. Video Games
4. Special Occasion and Holiday Clothing - odd to me.
5. Jewelry - another odd thing... here is your used wedding ring?
6. Ikea Furniture - Can find on Craigslist already assembled.
7. Games and Toys
8. Maternity and Baby Clothes
9. Musical Instruments
10. Pets - I agree, adopt!
12. Craft Supplies
13. Houses
14. Office Furniture - seems like an odd thing to be on the list.
15. Cars
16. Hand Tools
17. Sports Equipment - and I am thinking about buying a New Putter.
18. Consumer Electronics - I would only buy new, so I disagree with this.
19. Gardening Supplies
20. Timeshares
21. Recreational Items

Friday, June 25, 2010

SBC 2010: Award Winners

Here are my award winners for the 2010 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in Orlando:

Best Sermon – Tony Evans, if people would have listened to him they would have listened to Evans they would not have made the asinine comments about Stanley


Worst "Message" - Joshua Shank, Acts 29 Rap... on the path to being the next Wiley Drake!

Most Popular – David Platt, the twitter trends for him were ridiculous!


Least Popular/Most Helpful – Andy Stanley, if people would get off their high-horses and listen to his wisdom, their churches would be better for it.


Best speech – James Merritt for the GCR, it was fantastic!


Worst speech – The recent grad from one of our SBC seminaries against the GCR… whatever seminary that was should still thanking God he did not claim them!

Best Dressed – Anyone wearing shorts in the humid hundred degree weather

Worst Dressed – Ronnie Floyd, don't get me wrong, Floyd did a great job with the GCR, but this Miami Vice suit is TERRIBLE!


Worst Logo Ever – Love Loud, this logo is embarrassing for so many reasons... absolutely horrendous - even worse than Floyd's suit!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

SBC 2010: Great Commission Resurgence (GCR)


The biggest thing about this year’s convention was the passage of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force Report (GCR). When I first heard about it, I personally felt like it was an indictment against Southern Baptist that we had strayed so far from what we (The Church) were created to do that we needed to push for the Great Commission to be our focus again, after all, what else is there for the church! Now, a little part of me still feels that way, but more of me is excited that we as a convention noticed the need to change our course and move in God’s direction for us.

There are 7 main parts of the GCR that can be read here, but basically it can be summed up by saying our goal as Southern Baptists is to penetrate the lostness in our world for the cause of Jesus Christ (fulfilling that which He called us to do). The main point of contention came with component three, “Celebrating and Empowering Great Commission Giving.” The reason this was controversial is that some thought it would take away from the CP (Cooperative Giving as established by the SBC in 1925). This point was minimized many times by Ronnie Floyd, NAMB, and the GCR task force as it only really includes giving to SBC causes and not rogues efforts – something I find silly since the Great Commission is not centered on the CP, the CP should be centered on the Great Commission.

Danny Akin addressed this at the B21 lunch when he said, “The CP has not become a golden calf, it’s worse than that.” (I am pretty sure I quoted that correctly, and I am pretty sure Danny Akin was the one who said it) Anyway, this component was changed a little bit to make some feel better about the sanctity of the CP, but I found the change unnecessary.

Some called this the most historic moment in SBC life ever, some called it he most historic sin the Conservative Resurgence, I call it getting focused on what we should be focused on. I am glad it passed, was happy to vote for it, and pray that we as church whom make up the SBC will be Kingdom minded Great Commission churches!

Here are some articles on the GCR:
The GCR
The GCR Campaign Page
SBC messengers approve GCRTF report
Hunt, Floyd discuss their increased CP commitment
GCR passage won't change SBC

Another important Resolution passed was on the Centrality of the Gospel, click here to follow (on Timmy Brister's blog).

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

SBC 2010: The Dumbest Moment

During the SBC 2010 convention, immediately following the discussion and passage of the GCR, some dude stepped to the microphone and began to introduce a motion via rap. The group of friends I was sitting with came to some conclusions about it. We thought he lost a bet, took a dare, or was in desperate need to attention… I think the third guess fits the best, but I’m still not sure.

In the aftermath of the "rap-motion" Timmy Brister has come out of one of the brains behind the motion. Apparently, he, Charlie Mitchell, & Josh Shank (the rapper) decided to either punk the SBC or make a "contribution" to the business meeting. The motion was "expressing appreciation and affirmation for the investment of the Acts 29 Network for their work in planting gospel-centered churches in the SBC."

Timmy Brister now claims the rap was history making... my hope is that history does not repeat itself (See Wiley Drake for reference). Here is Joshua Shank presenting his motion affirming the work of Acts 29 church planting network in a rap/rhyme.



For the record, I have nothing against Acts 29, Joshua Shank, Timmy Brister or Charlie Mitchell.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

SBC 2010: B21 Lunch


For the first time I went to something called the B21 lunch. It was a collection of younger minds (honestly there were 3 younger minds and the establishment there) to discuss topics going on in Southern Baptist life. It was phenomenal to hear what the younger minds said. According to their literature, "Baptist21 is a group of young Southern Baptists pursuing Gospel-Centrality through the Local Church among the Nations to the glory of King Jesus in the 21st Century: We believe this is best stated: Gospel. Church. Mission."

Dr. David Platt (Pastor, Brookhill Church)represented the changing of the guard for what the long-lived establishment wants the new guard to look like (conservative, thoughtful, expository, biblically minded, great example). With one exception – Platt challenges the lifestyles of those living the American Dream and calls them to live sacrificially for the cause of Christ. His message is that God has called us to sacrifice everything for the Great Commission, therefore we must follow Jesus in Radical fashion to live out the Great Commission. My favorite part of his emphasis was not what he said, but how Johnny Hunt responded to it, saying that he had been challenged by Platt to give up some of his own comfort already having accomplished the American dream… Dr. Johnny Hunt (Pastor, FBC Woodstock) is phenomenal leader and his genuine heart/transparency is what makes him truly great!

Matt Chandler (Pastor, The Village Church), was also on stage. He is on the board of directors for Acts 29, and is also a Southern Baptist, thus his church is dually aligned. He was quizzed about why he is dually aligned. To summarize his message, he is Acts 29 because he loves and has a heart for church planting. He is Southern Baptist because he is conservative in his theology and loves our seminaries. He was also quick to point out that the GCR had a major role in bringing him back into the SBC fold. It is my hope that the denominational leadership will listen to his critique of SBC church planting efforts so we can properly resource, train, coach and equip church plants (something Acts 29 does exponentially better than SBC).


Dr. Jimmy Scroggins (Pastor, FBC West Palm Beach) was the last guy who caught my attention. Although he is the pastor of a very influential church, I really had never heard anything about him or the work he had accomplished. He is the pastor of FBC West Palm Beach, Fl. What I appreciated about his comments is that he expressed concern over many of the things many of us have been thinking. He said that although he likes the idea of the Cooperative Program, there are many things he dislikes about it. For instance, he does not agree with the way all the dollars are spent. There are concerns over the structure, overhead and such as well that bother him. It was an honest, fair, and much appreciated expression of concern.

With all this being stated, the best part of the B21 lunch was the free books that came with the affordable $7 lunch price tag. Everyone received 4-6 books, which was awesome. The one book I wanted (Radical by David Platt), was one of 5 I received. All in all, it was a great event to attend and I’ll look forward to attending in the future.

* I did not take any of these photos myself, I found them online.

Monday, June 21, 2010

SBC 2010: Pastor's Conference


This was my second Southern Baptist Convention to attend, and just like the first, the highlight was the Pastor’s Conference preceding the annual business meeting. When I saw the speakers list my first thought was, “Wow, this is going to be great!” Tony Evans, Francis Chan, Andy Stanley and others would be speaking… those were the ones that caught my attention first.

In my humble opinion, Tony Evans is the greatest preacher on the planet and he did not disappoint. He spoke about the need for pastors to take the side of Kingdom and not the side of individuals or the church, something that needs to be heeded by all pastors in attendance. He stated that, “the church does not exist for the church, the church exists for the Kingdom… the authority is in the Kingdom not the church.” He was exegetical, direct, practical and challenging. He ended with a paraphrase of Jesus and why he came, “I did not come to take sides, I came to take over!” It was an awesome message.

The other speaker I’d like to discuss is Andy Stanley. His message was the most helpful for churches, and the one that received the most hostility. He did not preach a 3 point sermon with a poem or song from the Bible, in fact some said it was not a sermon at all… right or wrong, I will say that it was the most helpful for churches on an everyday practical level. Throughout the message he repeated that he believes that every person will spend eternity somewhere, so they strive to win people to Jesus. He also says he (his church) believes that heaven rejoices more over one lost person accepting Jesus than 99 righteous people being righteous – both points taken directly from Scripture.

His message had 3 main points: Evaluate Everything (you do as a church), Acknowledge what your replacement might do, and own up to why you are unwilling to do it yourself, and Identify and remove unnecessary obstacles to people coming to faith (his most quoted line on twitter was, “The Gospel is offensive, your parking lot does not need to be.”) In his first point, he quoted Howard Hendrix, “Experience does not make you better, experience only puts you in a rut… only evaluated experience makes you better.” In his second point he stated, “Some of you are married to Southern Baptist life and you flirt with the Great Commission. Your organization should be organized around the Great Commission. What would it look like to organize your organization around the Great Commission. If it is not about bringing people to faith, don’t do it.” In his final point he focused on Acts 15 and stated, “The gravitational pool of the local church is always towards the insider, not the outsider… You cannot afford to babysit things that are unimportant and ineffective. Embrace the value of reaching people, not just keeping people.

To me, this spoke to the nature of many pastors to coddle their members at the expense of effectiveness for the Kingdom. For instance, many pastors are far to concerned with whether or not Baptist Bob or Deacon Dave will be offended by doing something out of the ordinary, that they stay within their rut and are thus ineffective as pastors/churches to reach people for the Gospel. The point was to challenge those in attendance to focus on that which Jesus commissioned us to do instead of catering to the self-centered church members. Some took this as Andy saying not to worry at all about those who are members of your church – this is ridiculous and all you have to do is research his church to find out that is not what he believes or practices.

All in all, there was nothing unbiblical about his message, although some harbor on how he took Acts 15 out of context. Andy Stanley also said nothing immoral or illegal. His talk was focused on trying to get pastors to look at how they “do church” and focus on how they could improve their effectiveness for the Kingdom. He even said, “If you are not on a relentless pursuit to make your church better, you will be critical of those that are”… which is exactly what many pastors did to him and his message.

I was blown away by the response some had towards his talk. I am not sure if they were upset that they would not have an extra sermon to claim as their own – yes, many pastors are elated to head home with a handful of someone else’s sermons claiming them as a word they heard from the Lord, taking them as their own. I find this practice disgusting, immoral, and offensive. It is uninspired and represents a heart far from God, disconnected from personal spiritual growth, having a genuine walk with God or hearing from Him. To be fair, there are things to be gleaned and shared with your church family that come from others, but give credit where credit is due and do not claim it as your own.

Back to Stanley, a common theme was that he was just talking about “me, me, me and you, you, you,” which is inaccurate and unfair; those who said it did not pay attention to his message. Many pastors have a negative predisposition towards him because his church runs over 25,000 weekly, thus "Northpoint Community must be doing something wrong" – which is one of the most ignorant criticisms I have ever heard. Anyway, it is true that his message was not a biblical exegetical sermon, it was a practical message that would make pastors and their churches more effective if applied.

I know this was my own tangent on the bashing of someone I respect and admire (Andy also has one of, if not the, best children’s ministry and discipleship programs in the world). The Pastor’s Conference was fantastic, some said they best they have ever attended – I agree, but can only compare it to Indianapolis 2004. It would be great for the sermons to be made public online, but they are extremely difficult to obtain.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

SBC 2010: Official Wrapup


SBC WRAPUP: Taken from sbcannualmeeting.net
Thursday, Jun 17, 2010


By Staff
ORLANDO, Fla. (BP)--After months of debate, Southern Baptist Convention messengers meeting June 15-16 easily adopted an amended version of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force report and also elected a new president, Bryant Wright.

It was the first time Southern Baptists had gathered in Orlando since 2000, the same year they debated and passed another significant document, the 2000 Baptist Faith & Message.

The 23-member GCR Task Force, formed during the 2009 meeting by then-SBC President Johnny Hunt, released a preliminary report in February and a lengthy final report in May. Discussion on the report in newspapers, Internet blogs and social media led to the largest messenger total at an annual meeting -- just over 11,000 -- since 2006.

In other top annual meeting news:

-- messengers passed a resolution calling divorce a "scandal that has become all too commonplace in our own churches" and an oil spill resolution asserting that "our God-given dominion over the creation is not unlimited, as though we were gods and not creatures."

-- the convention voted in its first presidential runoff since 1982.

-- the Executive Committee elected Frank Page its next president.

But the GCR report dominated messengers' attention. It had seven components, none of which drew more floor discussion during the Tuesday afternoon session than the third component's call for a new category, "Great Commission Giving," that would encompass not only Cooperative Program giving but also designated giving to all SBC causes.

Critics argued the new category would de-emphasize CP giving, and when messenger John Waters (Ga.) offered an amendment striking the new category from the report, a vote via a show of ballots appeared too close to call. Rather than putting the amendment to a ballot vote that possibly would push discussion of the report into the evening, task force members offered two compromise amendments that strengthened the report's CP language. Both were amendments to Component No. 3 and both passed overwhelmingly.

The first amendment said Southern Baptists "continue to honor and affirm the Cooperative Program as the most effective means of mobilizing our churches and extending our outreach." The second amendment -- which was written during a discussion on stage between task force members and Waters -- said Southern Baptists affirm "that designated giving to special causes is to be given as a supplement to the Cooperative Program and not as a substitute for Cooperative Program giving."

Waters, pastor of First Baptist Church in Statesboro, Ga., spoke from the podium and said the compromise amendment was offered by him and task force members "in the spirit of unity and togetherness" so as "to find some common ground on which we can stand for the sake of" the Great Commission.

After the final amendment passed, the report itself passed via a show of ballots by an estimated 3-to-1 margin.

Following the historic vote, task force chairman Ronnie Floyd recalled the statement issued by northern and southern Baptists after the 1845 founding of the Southern Baptist Convention. He told messengers: "Following the pattern of our leaders of old, we also would say to the watching world that the differences between those who support the Great Commission Resurgence report and recommendations and those who do not should not be exaggerated. We are still brothers and sisters in Christ. We differ on no article of faith.

"We are guided by our shared commitment to the Gospel itself and to the articles of faith identified in the Baptist Faith and Message 2000," he added. "The Southern Baptist Convention is a convention of churches that is committed to a missional vision of presenting the Gospel of Jesus Christ to every person in the world and to make disciples of all the nations. We are a Great Commission people."

Task force members said the amendments strengthened the report.

"The bottom line is that in an inelegant way we have a superior recommendation," task force member R. Albert Mohler Jr. said of the amendment process. "I think it's, in one sense, Southern Baptists at their very best -- sometimes a bit clumsy but determined to get to the same place together. And I appreciated the spirit of the messengers."

Said Floyd: "We just thank all of Southern Baptists for believing in the Great Commission. And now we move forward."

Bryant Wright, pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, Ga., was elected in a runoff for SBC president, winning 55 percent to 44 percent for Ted Traylor, pastor of Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola, Fla. Speaking to reporters shortly after he was elected, Wright emphasized his church's spotlight on missions and said he would like to see more churches and pastors take mission trips.

"The pastor needs to experience what it's like to be out there in another culture, sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ," Wright said.

Wright supported the task force's report.

"The task force leadership has led the convention in taking a very courageous step, but it is really just a beginning," Wright said. "If we're going to be radically serious about reaching this world for Christ, we as individuals and we as churches are going to have to really be prayerfully committed to fulfilling what God has called us to do with the Great Commission."

Wright also talked about how he and his church, frustrated with the amount of Cooperative Program dollars that remain in the United States, lowered their CP giving in order to raise contributions to the International Mission Board.

"We would very much prefer that all those funds go straight through CP," Wright said, "but there needs to be a radical reprioritization of that money."

Asked about a column he wrote urging state conventions to retain only 25 percent to 30 percent of undesignated CP gifts from churches, Wright said, "I'd love to see states move in that direction, knowing it will be a long, long process." Even a goal of splitting receipts 50/50 between state and SBC causes would allow funding for many more missionaries, he said.

Wright said state convention leaders "can be the real heroes in carrying out the Great Commission" since they control budgets and decide how much goes out of state for distribution to Southern Baptist causes.

RESOLUTIONS

The divorce resolution, which passed with what appeared to be a unanimous vote, says the "acceleration in rates of divorce in Southern Baptist churches has not come through a shift in theological conviction about scriptural teaching on divorce but rather through cultural accommodation." It urges churches to "to proclaim the Word of God on the permanence of marriage" and for "Southern Baptists in troubled or faltering marriages to seek godly assistance and, where possible, reconciliation." It further calls on churches "to proclaim God's mercy and grace to all people -- including those who have been divorced without biblical grounds." Resolutions Committee Chairman Russell Moore said it was the convention's first resolution since 1904 directly to address divorce.

The resolution on the Gulf oil spill, which passed nearly unanimously, calls on Southern Baptists to help those in the region who are hurting and to pray for an end to the tragedy. It also acknowledges that "this tragedy should remind us to testify to the love of God in His creation and to the hope through the blood of Christ, of a fully restored creation in which the reign of God is seen 'on earth as it is in heaven' (Matthew 6:10)."

Messengers also passed resolutions:
-- calling for reaffirmation of the centrality of the Gospel of Jesus.

-- supporting family worship.

-- opposing the proposed Employment Non-Discrimination Act and the overturning of the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy.

PAGE ELECTED

Frank Page, vice president of evangelization for the North American Mission Board, was elected the next Executive Committee president during a closed executive session of the EC meeting June 14, the day prior to the annual meeting. He said he hopes to be a unifying voice in the convention.

"There's great division amongst the brethren and to pull us together is going to be a God-ordained task that I shall deal with as best I can," he said. "One of my goals is to be a unifier. We've got to, based on John 17:21. It is imperative for our evangelistic efforts that we be unified."

In other matters:

-- More than 1,500 people accepted Christ during the pre-convention Crossover evangelism emphasis, which had 1,900-plus volunteers.

-- International Mission Board President Jerry Rankin delivered his final report to messengers, applauding Southern Baptists for giving nearly $149 million to the Lottie Moon Christmas offering but saying it still was not enough to send all the Southern Baptists waiting for missionary appointment. "What will we sacrifice?" he asked. "What will we be willing to change in order for the missionaries that God is calling from our churches to go and touch the lost nations and peoples who are dying without Christ? I pray that that question will be implanted in our minds and stir our conscience with conviction."

-- Richard Harris, interim president of the North American Mission Board, told messengers that three out of every four people in North America have no personal relationship with Christ. Yet Harris recounted several reasons for optimism, including a church in Painter, Ala., that saw its Easter attendance double by using the God's Plan for Sharing (GPS) evangelism strategy. Harris also said that 85,000 Haitians have accepted Christ since the earthquake. "I have never been more excited than this day to move forward to penetrate lostness in North America, and the North American Mission Board is going to help you do it," he said.

-- Executive Committee President Morris H. Chapman delivered his final report to messengers. "As you may know, I do differ with the last five recommendations that shall be recommended by the Great Commission Task Force," Chapman said minutes prior to debate on the report. "My heart is heavy because these recommendations do not challenge us spiritually and shall never bring us to our knees, much less take us to the ends of the earth. We can accomplish all of these recommendations without the power of God and the moving of God's Holy Spirit." A resurgence, Chapman said, "must be ignited by the Holy Spirit of God and stoked by faithful people in the pulpits and pews of this land."

-- Messengers elected Tennessee evangelist Ron Herrod as first vice president and Eric Moffett, pastor of First Baptist Church in Sparkman, Ark., as second vice president. Earlier in the convention Moffett's church received the Executive Committee's M.E. Dodd Award for its commitment to the Cooperative Program. Over the past 30 years the 100-member church has given an average of 32 percent to CP. By acclamation, messengers elected John Yeats, director of communications for the Louisiana Baptist Convention, as SBC recording secretary, and Jim Wells, director of missions for the Tri-County Baptist Association in Nixa, Mo., as registration secretary. Messengers also elected David Platt, pastor of the Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala., to preach the convention sermon at the 2011 annual meeting in Phoenix.

-- The SBC Pastors' Conference spotlighted adoption and used the surplus from the conference offerings to fund a series of $2,000 scholarships for adopting couples. (Information is available at SBCAdoption.com). "Adoption is not God's Plan B ever. Adoption is always God's Plan A, if that's what He's called the family to," Cissy McNickle said during a short video that told her family's adoption story. She and her husband, Buff, received the first scholarship.
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Story based on reporting by Tammi Reed Ledbetter, news editor of the Southern Baptist TEXAN; Michael Foust, an assistant editor of Baptist Press; Mark Kelly, an assistant editor of Baptist Press; Erin Roach, staff writer for Baptist Press; Tom Strode, Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press; and Norm Miller, a freelance writer based in Richmond, Va.