Okay, been a while.   I am coming out of blogging retirement and shaking the dust off my keyboard to tell all 3.25 of you that read this blog why I think you should attend the Tennessee Baptist Convention this year. 

10.  Free Stuff.  Really, I rack up at least a dozen pens, a sack full of candy, and the occasional flashlight in the “exhibit area” every year.

9.  Everything I have ever learned about parliamentary procedure I learned at the annual meeting.  I go every year to hone my skills.  For real though. .  . I have ninja-like Robert’s Rules of Order skills! 

8.  Reading material.  I like to collect the vast amount of informational brochures, magazines, books, and flyers.  I proudly display these items in my church office to appear smarter and better connected than I really am.

7.  Nomination speeches.  I am waiting for the phrase “better than sliced bread” and “smarter than a 5th grader” to be heard while describing a candidate. 

6.  New this year. . . a 5k run.  I am just praying that the cardiac care unit from Vandy is on hand with a defibrillator to revive our “pot luck” filled pastors.

5.  “Other Business”.  This is the dangerous category of the meeting that follows all pre-determined business where we let any credentialed messenger come to a microphone and say, literally, whatever is on their mind.  Think I’ll come to microphone # 4 this year to make a motion that we ban the word “pastorium” from our collective Baptist vocabulary as it sounds just a little too much like crematorium. 

4.   I like being refered to as “credentialed”. 

3.  Name tags that identify everything I have ever done in Tennessee Baptist Life since I was on the cradle roll.   

2.  Dress casual vs. formal suit and tie guys.  As usual I will be scanning the crowd to see if we finally go over 50% dress casual. 

1.  Of course the best reason to go is that God is working through our convention and I just want to be a part of it.  I’ll see ya there!


Last week I took a few of my guys to IMPACT camp at Linden Valley Conference Center (or Camp Linden for those of us with a little gray in our hair).  I like to hear people’s stories.  I want to know how God has been working in the lives of His children.  As usual, I listened and observed all week.  My take away for the week?  Camp is a place where people become connected to God, connected to each other, and where ministries are launched.  Camp, for me, was a place where those connections became beautifully visible.     

Let me tell you about some of the connections I observed last week:

Allie:  I was minding my own business (napping on a bench) when 3 young people sat down on the bench across from me.  Turns out they were from FBC Parsons.  I told them that I used to be the Youth Minister at FBC Linden and that is when I met Allie.  Allie asked me “when were you at Linden”?  When she found out that I was there in the mid 90’s she lit up.  She said her mother was at FBC Linden then.  It turns out that I was her mama’s youth minister.  My bro. in law Jeff told me this constitutes a “GRAND YOUTH”.  Although I now felt as old as dirt. .  . I was overjoyed to find out that her mom was in a good church and that she was raising her children in church.  It was a very cool connection.     

Lifeguard Graham:  While floating the Buffalo river with my kiddos I started talking to our lifeguard for the trip.  She looked familiar so I asked her if she had ever attended First Linden.  Turns out that she did.  She was only two years old when we left Linden.  While floating we caught up on all the “goings on” in and around Linden.  It was a good connection.  

Two Brothers Two Youth Ministers Two Audrys Two Cities and a Wedding:  TBC life connects people in many different ways.  Jeff Williamson is my bro-in-law.  He and his best bud Larry Overton are both youth ministers on seperate ends of the state (40 years of expereince between them).  Jeff and and Larry met each other at. . . . CAMP Linden.  Been best friends ever since.  They are now responsible for IMPACT camp and they do a supurb job.  Their two youth ministries have done a lot of events and camps together over the years which brings me to the next connection.  Jeff’s youth group has produced two different Audreys.  Larry’s youth group has produced two brothers (Jordan and Josh).  Audrey#1 and Josh have been married for a while now.  Jordan and Audrey #2 will be married soon.  Here is the cool part.  Josh, Audry #1, Jordan, and Audry #2 are all committed to the Lord.  All 4 of them were at IMPACT camp as staff members, and all 4 minister within thier own congregations.  Where did all of this cross pollination begin?  CAMP LINDEN!   

Our camp pastor:  Robbie Robison.  He is a great guy with a great testimony.  Part of his testimony includes our Camp Linden.  He realized his call to ministry in Linden Valley’s Tabernacle.  Robie travels all over the United States sharing the Gospel and encourageing teenagers. . . and all of that began at camp.

I will always remember Linden Valley because I got to lead my youngest son to the Lord there.  He accepted Christ sitting in room #4 of Whipporwill cabin on July, 8 2011. 

Ministries launched.  Friendships forged.  Wedding bells rung.   Camp ministry is a very important cog in the wheel of what God is doing in TBC life.  I would encourage you to visit either of our fantastic conference centers and utilize them for ministry.  Click here to learn more!   

Spent a week worshiping with young people at IMPACT camp.   I am grateful to have been a part of it.  I am proud of the fact that our Tennessee Baptist Convention cares enough to invest in camp ministry.  I am prayerful that the “Declarations” that have been made at camp will, by faith, turn into deeds.   

Some characteristics of the Students I encountered this week:

They are Hungry for truth.

They respond to the satisfaction that comes from the bread of life.

They are uninhibited by our traditions.

They are unrestrained by our religion.

They are unimpressed by our buildings and programs.

They are unmotivated by our words but are stirred to action by His. 

They are untested.  The tests will come.  They will pass some and they will fail some.  Don’t write them off when they fail.  They need your experience to guide them along their journey of faith.  They need your encouragement.   They will need your admonishment at times.  They need you to answer theological questions that are beyond their understanding.  They need you to prod them by your godly EXAMPLE.  You will be tempted to guide them back into the trap of religiosity. . . . Don’t!  You will be tempted to temper their radicalization for Christ. . .  Don’t!  You will be tempted to mold them into your image or the image of your denomination. . . Don’t!   

Oh, wouldn’t it be great if the worship I witnessed in these young hearts translated into the revival we adults have been praying for?

When the volume of our words exceeds the capacity of our knowledge we should stop talking.

Go ye therefore 1/2 mile down the road from the church.  I got to share the Gospel today with a man who lives very close to our church.  Contrary to popular belief. . . not everyone in the rural south is saved.

I have been reminded in the past couple of weeks that God’s people have a high calling and that we must follow Him on His terms.   For example:  Carrying out the Great Commission while we compromise our integrity and character is not God’s agenda for us.   The highest and purest goals can be soiled through low living.   Doing the right thing the wrong way brings reproach on the process and the product.

Many of you have requested the video we produced for Sue Call’s celebration service.  So here you go:

Why did you skip church?  You probably had a perfectly well thought out excuse. . . right?  Here are a few reasons your presence at Church is required.  

Your presence in worship is a HUGE encouragement to your pastor who has worked hard to communicate God’s Word effectively.

Your presence in worship is an encouragement to your fellow believers who need to see others on the same journey. (Heb 10:25)

Your presence in worship is necessary for your own edification as your heart, soul, and mind are encouraged by the preaching of God’s Word. 

Your presence in worship communicates your priorities to a watching world. 

Most importantly. . .  your presence pleases God.  (Heb 10:25)