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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!   

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.

How will 3 thousand Tennessee Baptist Churches impact 3 million lost people in Tennessee?  Our churches have 3 options

1.  Stay the course with little or no impact. (do nothing) 

 2.  Tweak our evangelistic programs  and be satisfied to add a few here and there. 

3.  Transform our members into people who proficiently and personally propagate the Gospel where they live everyday.  

We must pick option 3 if we are going to make a real difference.  We have expected little of ourselves in recent days.  We have treated God as if He was some sort of small anemic deity who is barely hanging on.  We have experienced little power because we have passively practiced our faith.  It is high time that we expect more from the transformational power of the Gospel.  It is past time that we multiply through evangelism believing that God can transform the sinner.  3 thousand churches can make a deep impact on 3 million lost people because it is God’s desire to save.  His desire is that none should perish.  He didn’t even withhold His only Son so that redemption could be possible.  His plan is that we (we meaning all of us) go. 

I am excited about the fact the Tennessee Baptist Convention just brought on Bobby Welch to develop, coordinate, promote and equip Tennessee Baptist churches in a statewide strategy of church planting, church revitalization and evangelism.   I can’t wait to see how God will use Dr. Welch but hiring one man will not reach 3 million.  I am sure Dr. Welch will inspire us and instruct us along the way. . . . but only the obedience of 3 thousand Baptist Churches will make a real difference. 

 

This is Cottage Grove’s redneck missionary to Puerto Rico.  I thank God for him!

Read Alvin Reid’s article HERE.

43 kids.  2000 eggs.  100 future cavities.  Last week our church invited our community (a function of ACROSS TN) to our Easter egg hunt and to our Easter worship service.  result: 4 new families came today with their children to hunt eggs and hear the REAL Easter story. 

Ephesians 2 Made Alive in Christ 1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

1.  The way my iPod seems to suddenly weigh 5lbs as it dangles from my clothing.

2.  The way my ear buds never seem to stay in the appropriate position while running.   I might as well just poke them into my nostrils.

3.  That wheezing noise I make when I get about 1   1/2 miles into the run. 

4.  People who pass me in their cars and smile at my pain.

5.  People who pass me in the car who not only smile while they pass, but also feel it necessary to wave. . . . and expect me to have the energy to wave back.

6.  The fact that I constantly have to fight the urge to walk. 

7.  That pain in my side that always develops and persists even though “experienced” runners (who are all liars) keep telling me, “Ahhhh just run through it.  It will go away”.  

8.  Hills.  Why can’t it all just be slightly downhill? 

9.  People who want me to stop and talk after I have spent considerable time convincing myself to keep running.

10.  Other runners who actually look “happy” while they glide along efortlessly up steep hills at a pace I will never attain. 

Yes, there are some things about the run that I do not enjoy, but I love the benefit of running.  My health has improved significantly since running.  I have set goals and reached them.   My diet has improved b/c I want to have the energy needed to atain my goals.  The greatest lesson from running though is endurance.   Long suffering is listed in Galatians 5:22-23 as one of the Fruits of the Spirit.  Endurance (patience) is a quality that must be cultivated in my life.  It doesn’t come naturally.  Running through the pain doesn’t come naturally.  While your instincts tell you to stop and rest, your drive to win the race tells you to keep running.  I have found that my spiritual life is very much the same.  We must keep running the race set before us.  The benefit of endurance is awesome.  The finish line, although not visible yet, will be worth the run.

Matthew 7:24-26    24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

It is frustrating to build on sand.  Nothing stands for long on a flimsy foundation.  Frustration with my spiritual life is almost always the result of trying to reach higher than my foundation will allow.  Knowing what action I need to take for Christ is not the same thing as knowing how to perform that action.   Trying to attain spiritual heights your wisdom won’t allow for is like building on sand.  . . it’s gonna fall.   God’s Wisdom is the foundation that we act upon.  Acting without that wisdom is frustrating, at best, disastrous at worst.

I don’t always like the music that accompanies what my 14-year-old is listening to but the biblical message is unmistakable.  I have hope for generation “next”.  The message of the cross is still relevant and will always be to those who are paying attention.

This first clip is a band called Skillet.  The song is about the regret and shame that follows in the wake of an abortion.

This is Lecrae.  Rap is not my thing at all but this song is what I pray my son continually embraces.  Notice Mark Driscoll (pastor Mars Hill) preaching through the chorus.