Category Archives: Christianity

Observations from a Middle-Georgia Pastorate: The Convention

I haven’t written much over the last week, especially since the weekend. The biggest reason is that I have been pretty busy with ministry and church-related stuff.

Now, when I say “stuff,” it could be interpreted as things that don’t matter much in the big scheme of things, things that just take up time and make us look busy. That kind of stuff is bad, for we should make the best use of what time we’ve been given.

However, the stuff I’ve been doing (at least from Sunday evening through Tuesday) was centered around our denomination in the state of Georgia. This week we attended the 198th Georgia Baptist Convention Annual Meeting.

Conventions

When hear the word convention, they often think about wild parties and lots of nonsense. The convention I went to for two and a half days was anything but parties and nonsense; it was where 1,300 delegates from Southern Baptist churches all over the state of Georgia came together to do business, worship, and be encouraged.

For those of you who don’t know, congregations within the Southern Baptist Convention are independent, autonomous, self-governing churches – the SBC doesn’t tell us what to do. However, what unites us is a common set of beliefs (Baptist Faith and Message 2000) and a desire to reach the nation and the world with the Gospel by participating in the Cooperative Program. State conventions operate in similar fashion, but deal more with regional needs.

Changes

This year is a big year for Georgia Baptists! The reason is that the whole convention was restructured to become more effective in serving the needs of our churches and pastors.

If you haven’t already, you can click on the link above (or here) and see exactly what’s going on. But if you are short on time and/or curiosity, let me sum things up with a few bullet points.

  • The Georgia Baptist Mission Board has been restructured into FIVE main ministry areas:
    • Georgia Baptist Women
    • Research and Development
    • Strategic Church Planting
    • Church Strengthening
    • Pastor Wellness
  • The Georgia Baptist Mission Board is now regionalized into six new areas. Each region will have a team of consultants that are serving our pastors, their families, and churches. Each region team includes consultants from:
    • Evangelism, Missions, Next Gen, Discipleship, & Worship and Music.
  • The Georgia Baptist Mission Board is committed to three guiding principles:
    • Pastors Are Our Heroes
    • Churches Are Our Priority
    • Georgia Is Our Mission Field

Why the Changes?

As stated in the video you can watch on the website, the main reason for all the changes in the structure and guiding principles of the convention is that there are over 7 million lost people in Georgia. We have to get “wiser, stronger, and more efficient in reaching them.”

There is a great need for discipleship. However, you can’t be a disciple of Jesus unless you are a follower of Jesus! We must get back to the primary mission of the Church, which was the primary mission of Jesus: “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).

I am proud to be a Georgia pastor. It is a great honor to be counted among those who will recommit to “making a big deal about Jesus” in the communities where we serve, and beyond.

Georgia pastors standing to be blessed with prayer.

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Filed under baptist, Christianity, Church, ministry, Southern Baptist

I Just Don’t Give a Care!

Photo from a Foxnews.com story

Believe it or not, the drama has already returned. 

Starbucks didn’t put “Christmas” on their coffee cups.

Folks, I’m going to make this short and sweet (even though I like my coffee tall and black), I couldn’t care less what Starbucks does with their coffee cups.

There are a ton of other coffee shops (I went to 14 in Charleston, remember), and most of those had NOTHING on their cups. If anything, their cups were either ceramic or paper with their own logo on the side.

Heck, I’d rather go to McDonald’s for coffee! Their coffee is better than Starbucks’, and I can get 2 cups for the price of one! And McDonald’s cups keep coffee warmer longer, too.

Look, Starbucks is not a Christian company. It’s not even a Christian-friendly company. If anything, it’s blatantly liberal and apologetically so. Why would anyone expect them to promote Christmas?

This is one hill I don’t want to die on.

For that matter, you can have that hill; I’m going to the double arches. 

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Filed under Christianity, Christmas, Food

It’s What’s In the Bottle that Matters Most

Ole Doc Bell

Last month, as you may remember, I went to a Civil War reenactment nearby (you can read about that in this previous post, if you’d like). But the part where the soldiers get together and shoot at each other is only a small part of the experience.

Just like back in the old days, the soldiers (reenactors) usually camp out somewhere not too far from where the mock battles will take place. It’s there where you will find period reenactors living life like they did back in the 1860’s, and that includes people like Ole Doc Bell (I don’t know his real name, or if he is really a doctor).

The bottles in the above picture were meant to hold your choice of beverage. I thought is was a pretty cool idea. You’d get free refills in the bottle you purchased, and when it was all said and done – or drank – the keepsake would be a lot prettier than a plastic cup.

Regardless, whatever the bottle looked like, and regardless what the label said, it was all Doc Bell’s products on the inside: root beer, birch beer, lemonade, or cream soda.

Ole Kanye

That being said, I just want to make a loose connection to the bottles and say a quick word about Kanye West and his profession of faith.

I don’t know Kanye’s heart, only God does. However, his actions of late have boldly proclaimed the name of Jesus Christ to the world, while I know others who claim to be Christians that haven’t shared their faith in 20 years.

I listened to his album Jesus Is King. I was impressed with the lyrics, especially the ones in “Hands On.” There’s room to take issue with his lament over other believers making him feel unloved by doubting him – I mean, it was just a short while ago he claimed divinity for himself. Yet, when he said what he really needed right now was “hands on,” as in people praying for him, I totally agreed.

Kanye West is a different bottle all together. But what really matters is what’s inside. If that is the legitimate product, he could make a huge and lasting impact on many, many people.

And therein lies the danger: he’s a threat if he’s legit. Ask Paul.

All I can say is “hands on,” everybody. Hand’s on.

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Filed under Christian Unity, Christianity, current events, Faith, salvation, Witnessing

Great Is His Faithfulness, His Mercies, His Love

It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. – Lamentations 3:22-23

I’m in my office, my study, finishing up my sermon for this coming Sunday, “Thankful for His Holiness,” and I have instrumental music playing in the background. The song that is playing right now is “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.”

Folks, because God is holy, all of His other attributes are sure! And because He is faithful, I can know that His mercies endure forever and His compassions, well, they fail not!

If it wasn’t for that, I’m very sure He would have changed His mind about me a long, long time ago.

But He is faithful and ever-loving! He is true to His promises! And every morning I’m awash in His mercies and goodness, whether I recognize it or not!

I don’t deserve to be loved like I am, but He loves me, anyway.

If you don’t know what it’s like to be loved, if every human on earth has left you, then may I just ask you to look to the Cross? “When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died…” Oh, my friend, you are loved, you’ve just got to accept it.

So often we ask things like, “How could you love me?” You may think that about God. You may wonder, after all you’ve done, how could He love you?

If God was like other people, any other human, He’d probably give up on us, too. But here’s the thing, as He told Hosea (and you should read that story), “I am God, not man.”

God doesn’t simply love, as in what He does; He IS LOVE! It is His very nature! He defines what true love is! And if HE said He loves you, you can count on it. You can depend on it! You can rejoice over it! You can shout about it!

No! You and I don’t deserve it! Who wants a deserved love, anyway? You want a love that’s undeserved, unmerited, and not based on anything you could or can do!

Man, without Jesus I don’t know where I’d be right now, if not dead and in hell. I’ve just got to worship Him.

“I’ll never know how much it cost to see my sin upon the cross, but here I am to worship, here I am to bow down, here I am to say that You’re my God!” …that’s the music that was playing as I wrote the previous sentence.

Well, I guess I better get back to my study 🙂

As always, if you need to talk, I’m always available. If you would like to call someone who can introduce you to Christ and tell you more about His mercies and His love, call 1-800-NEED HIM.

God bless!
Anthony

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Observations from a Middle-Georgia Pastorate: Doing a Q&A

Inside Bethlehem Baptist Church (built on the congregation’s Centennial in 1890)

This past Sunday evening I did something I never thought I’d do: I did a question and answer service (Q&A) with my congregation at Bethlehem Baptist.

Look, I’m no Ravi Zacharias, so going into an hour’s worth of questions without any idea what was going to be asked was a little nerve wracking. Granted, I had prepared a cheat sheet with some verses that would apply to some of the more common questions I figured they might ask, but they could have asked anything, and I could have looked really ignorant.

Fortunately (at least for me) only four questions were addressed in the entire hour! Actually, four were asked, but only three got answered. The fourth one required me going home and getting on the computer, then following up with a phone call to the lady who asked the question.

So what were the four questions? I’m glad you asked!

I will paraphrase them for you:

  1. Based on Luke 23:43 and 1 Thessalonians 4:17, why did Jesus say that the thief on the cross would be with Him in paradise the same day, yet we read of the “dead in Christ” rising? Did Jesus make a special exception for the thief on the cross, or was there something else at play? Do we immediately go to heaven when we die, or something else?
  2. Is it wrong or a sin for a Christian to get tattoos?
  3. What should the Church’s response be to the issue of suicide?
  4. What is a “busybody” and where to we find it – if that word exists – in the Bible?

Now, if you would like to hear my answers to these questions, well, I didn’t record the service. And if you would like for me to tell you right here and now what my answers were, you’re out of luck…I don’t want to write that much right now! All I will say is that what started out as a Q&A turned into a sweet time of fellowship and sharing.

But here’s the thing…people have questions and they deserve answers.

Zig Ziglar used to say that people will never care how much you know until they know how much you care. Sure, I could have been blindsided by a question for which I did not have a good answer, but I cared enough to put myself in that position for their sake. If they don’t know I care, it doesn’t matter how much I know.

But what if I didn’t know the answer? Was I afraid of that? Honestly, I told my congregation up front that I might not have a good answer for some of their questions, but if that happened I promised I would do my best to find an answer and get back with them.

Funny thing, the only question that stumped me was the one about where to find “busybody” in the Bible! That, for the record, is found in 2 Thessalonians 3:11; 1 Timothy 5:13; and 1 Peter 4:15.

What did I learn from this adventure? First, I knew more than I thought I did. Second, cheat sheets help. And third, the people loved it so much they want to do it again!

So, we will!

Next time they’ll probably ask about Cain’s wife and predestination 🙂

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Filed under Apologetics, baptist, Bible Study, Christianity, Church, ministry

Observations from a Middle-Georgia Pastorate: Stay On the Float, Don’t Give Up

I’m going to be totally honest with you, OK? There was a post I published for just a few minutes this morning, but then I took it down and added it to the “draft” bin. Even as I was writing it, it seemed forced. So, no matter how I tried to edit it, it never seemed “right.”

So, what did I do? I decided I’d try to do a video blog ( a Vlog) post. I mean, hey, I’m a preacher, so why not just TELL my story? Yet, what happened? After multiple recordings, multiple edits, and multiple times trying to upload, only to see “Upload Failed,” I almost gave up.

Nothing was working!

YET, I still felt I needed to post something, almost like it was imperative that I do so. Why the pressure? Why the stress?

So, I decided to try one more thing – record straight to YouTube. No editing, not fancy camera work, no script…just raw, unedited video of me sharing what’s on my heart.

As I’m writing this, I’m waiting for the video to upload to YouTube (it’s taking awhile). If it uploads with no problem, you will see it below.

It’s taking a looooooonnnnng time.

Ah, finally 🙂

God bless!
Anthony

 

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Filed under blogging, Christianity, current events, Depression, Life/Death, ministry

I Just Had to Write

I was just sitting here in my office, working on my sermon for this Sunday morning, and about to turn around to my desk, my back to the computer.

That is when, as the background music on my computer was playing (some Christian instrumental piano music), I felt a warm, heavy feeling come across me…a warm, compelling feeling…a sense of love for my God, combined with a sincere desire to talk about Him, came across me.

So, here I am, telling you – whoever you are, wherever you are in this wide, beautiful world – that God loves you so much! He loves you so much that He made a way to forgive you of all you’ve done, create in you a clean heart, and not only restore fellowship with Him, but make you a beloved child of God!

Here is the proof…here is the evidence…here is the Way… Jesus.

Friend, I don’t have all the answers. I don’t know everything. But this thing I do know: Jesus is the most important Person in my life! Without Him I would be hopeless!

And to think, the very one who spoke the worlds into existence is speaking RIGHT NOW to YOU! All He wants you to do is come to Him, give yourself to Him, yield your will to Him, and trust Him for the care of your eternal soul. In return, guess what you get?

HIM!

Oh, that’s all you need!

If you only knew Jesus! The love that He poured out on a cross so that sinful, hateful, bitter, wounded, broken mankind could be healed, forgiven, and saved!

What they did to Jesus on the cross 2,000 plus years ago was not a “crime;” it was the proof, the evidence, of His love for you and me.

You…yes, YOU were worth the nails!

I just wanted to tell you about Him. He means everything to me. And I love Him.

IF you would like to learn more, go to the tab at the top of page and click on “Eternal Life.” If that’s not enough, call 1-800-NEED HIM.

Thanks for reading.

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