Tuesday, June 19, 2012

All Things According To His Purpose

Perhaps you have never wondered, but just in case you have, my experience this week at the Southern Baptist Convention in New Orleans is that God truly does cause all things to work together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). At different times different parts of scripture stand out. What speaks loudly to me from this verse today is that God does call people according to His purpose. His purpose really is all that matters. Pastors always fall prey to the purposes of people, most of them people who are seeking the Lord. Occasionally, however, individuals rise up who have some other purpose. Satan wants us to spend our time trying to decipher those purposes because doing so would distract us from the purpose of the call. We can go literally crazy trying to work through the purposes of those who mask themselves under knightly disguise claiming to fight for "the common good" - often using the "several people" motif to decorate their speeches. How did the powerful preachers who spoke at the SBC Pastor's Conference know what My bride and I needed to hear to provide clarity in the midst of confusion (of which God is not the author)? How did they know? Because the Holy Spirit in them and the Holy Spirit in us is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The Comforter who came after the ascension of our Lord is still active today - even in the life of a small town boy in New Orleans, Louisiana. This small town boy, back in the city of his call, is overwhelmed by the thought of God in my direction and in the direction of my family. I am thankful for Southern Baptist pastors who have the courage to speak candidly, personally, passionately, and boldly on the importance of our staying true to our calling, because only then do we remain an active part of the eternal plan of God.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Full Circle

Our journey through Panama City, Florida, started almost 19 years ago.  After seminary Karen and I moved to Panama City.  A pastor who had no clue about me gave me a chance at ministry, and since then our lives have never been the same.  I could list many stops along the journey that have enriched our lives.  The one that has caught my attention in the last few days, however, is the relationship that we formed with one particular family.  Two sisters with families who made a decision prior to December of 1993 that they wanted more than the status quo for their kids.  Exposure to the word of God was the call of the day, and the Lord graciously allowed me to be a part of it all.

While we were in Panama City we met a young girl.  Seventh or eighth grade, I'm not sure, but either way over the years God did an amazing work in her life.  If you ever wondered if you can look at someone and really see the reflection of Christ you haven't met Katy.  Everything about her reminds me of Jesus.  It's a family trait, I believe.

The occasion for my thoughts about Katy are closely related to mine and Karen's trip to New Orleans this week.  We are attending the Southern Baptist Convention in the place where we first fell in love.  We tried to decide who we could leave our children with so they could all be together for the week.  Not many people are close enough that we would dare to ask them to keep a fourteen year old, a ten year old, and a four year old.  As I prayed about this important decision, Katy came to mind.  She and her husband have two precious daughters of their own, and I hoped that she would be willing to let our three kids stay with them for the week.  Actually it is a family affair, seeing that Aunt Sherri lives right next door.  Kathy, Christy, Ben squared, and Sammy will also be there to help.  Still, it's a big deal that she was willing to help us out.  

While Karen and I were driving and talking we found ourselves in a place remembering who Katy was and who she had become.  Suddenly we were struck with the fact that this young lady who we had in our very first youth ministry now had children of her own and was raising them in such a way that we felt comfortable leaving our three kids in her care for the week.  What a humbling experience for us.  Not that we had anything to do with the kind of parent she is.  It's just that rarely do you have the privilege of seeing fruit in ministry.  Katy had great parents and an encouraging family that did most of the work in the name of Jesus.  The Lord did allow us a little part of the journey, however.  Maybe one day our boys will find a Godly woman like Katy.  Maybe one day our little girl will grow up to reflect Jesus like Katy does.  In the mean time we are thankful for the exposure that she will have in their lives this week.  As David has taken to saying, "Praise God!"