Thank You Church

I don’t tell our church often enough what an amazing people you are, and how thankful I am to be your pastor. No, we are not perfect. We sometimes stumble, fall, doof and say the wrong things. However, this weekend reminded me again what a great church you are.

First Baptist Church El Sinai in the town of Santa Catarina Masahuat, El Salvador

Your response to the Compassion Experience Weekend has been phenomenal. As I write on late Monday afternoon, we are 14 short of reaching our goal of sponsoring all of our assigned children from our church partner in El Salvador. I have no doubt that we will find sponsors for those remaining kids by next Sunday. This is incredible! I am thankful!

No doubt many of you were moved by the Compassion Experience exhibit. Others certainly were moved by the testimony in Sunday’s morning service. Others have been thinking for some while about doing something like this. But, I also know something else, which challenges me, checks me, humbles me, and quite frankly, scares me a little bit. For some of you, the biggest contributing factor for sponsoring a child is because I asked you. If that is you, please know that I am thankful and will never take that kind of response for granted. I will always be careful to lead us to do as God calls.

As we begin this new sponsorship journey, please be challenged that praying for your child is a most important component of this program.

Thank you again. Sunday was a great day!

A Bad Friday

By now you all know that another school shooting has happened—this time in Santa Fe, Texas. Closer to where I live, in the town of St. Martinville, LA, my wife’s hometown, several students died this morning in a car accident. Fun events for seniors, who were anticipating their last day, have been canceled. As I sat down to put some thoughts down, I got a news alert that a plane has crashed in Cuba.

Meanwhile, high school graduations in my area are happening all weekend.

Keenly aware that these graduating seniors aren’t reading my blog today or any day, if I could address every graduating senior, my words would go something like this.

Be Thankful. Life is fragile. Life is short. Life is far from perfect. The only way to live life to the fullest is to be thankful. Be thankful because you know you didn’t get to where you are by yourself. Be thankful for parents, teachers, coaches, ministry leaders, the military, police, first responders, doctors, dentists, nurses, and many others. Most of all, give thanks to God. I went to a high school sports awards program the other night put on by our local paper. I was thankful and impressed that most every student gave thanks to God.

Alex Haley, author of Roots kept a picture of a turtle sitting on a fence post near his desk. He said about the picture, “Anytime you see a turtle sitting on a fence post you know that the turtle did not get there without some help.”

Every single one of us is just like that—we did not get to where we are without a lot of help, including the help of God.

Keep Seeking Truth. This is probably not what high school seniors want to hear as they graduate, but “You are never finished learning.” We are always learning. We will face tests every day of our lives, and we better know truth to face these tests. My college roommate is a medical doctor. He studied hard as a college student, medical student, and resident. When he had finished all of his formal education and had begun his medical practice, I said something really stupid to him. “You must be so happy to know that you will never take another test again?”

I will never forget his answer. “I am studying harder than ever before. I take a test with every patient that I see, and if I fail that test, the result will be much worse than a failing grade.”

He’s right. Life is a test. School is just the preparation for us to take tests the rest of our lives. Today is a test. How do we process all that is happening in our world today? We must know truth.

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus. This gets us through these tough Fridays. Life is hard to explain. We better be armed with fundamental truth for the complexities of life.

This is not just for graduating seniors. This is for all of us.

God, help us. God, help Santa Fe, Texas. God, help St. Martinville, Louisiana. God help Cuba. There’s a lot of hurt in our world today.

The More Things Change, The More Things Stay the Same

Billy Graham

Billy Graham

I have been enjoying on Satellite Radio the preaching of Billy Graham. I have noticed several common denominators in Graham’s preaching. Regardless of his subject, he made, as some have said, “a straight line to the cross.” Whether his subject was heaven, hell, sin, or a topic like loneliness, Graham made his way to the cross as soon as possible.

Another thing that I have noticed is how Graham used contemporary events. Graham was truly a man like the ones spoken of in 1 Chronicles 12:32, who “understood the times and knew what Israel should do.”

One other thing I have noticed, that I knew already, but I have paid special attention to it, is that Billy Graham closed all of his messages in essentially the same way. He called people to a decision. Not only did he call people to a decision, but he used almost the exact same words every time. He called people to believe, and then he explained what Biblical belief is. And then, he called people to repentance, and he explained what repentance is. Repentance is a change in your view about God, in your view about yourself, and in your view about sin. He called people in repenting to make a change.

I remember reading years ago of Graham’s answer to a reporter’s question about the difference in preaching at the beginning of his ministry and the end of his public ministry. His answer is classic:

Nothing has really changed in terms of the needs of people. Whenever or whatever you preach, you must remind them of their sin, speak to them about Heaven and Hell, show them to the cross, and urge them to come to the Savior.

Truly, the more things have changed, the more things have stayed the same.