Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Of Dreams and Demons...

I was lying down on a cot in the living room of a great three story house. On my right was the owner of the house--a middle-aged man with glasses. One my left was his son--a shadowy figure who was there sort of like I imagine a ghost would be. The father was not completely aware of his son's presence--like he had died or something. The boy was scared and I held his hand as we lay there on our three separate cots. The purpose of my presence was to exercise a demon that had been tormenting the man. The demon was expected to manifest his presence at 9:00pm by slamming doors. This apparantly was his habit. The man had attempted to stop the disturbance in the past by shooting a shotgun at the doors. The 9:00 hour came and went with no activity. The three of us were leaving the house and had made our way about 2-3 blocks away when a loud and distinct voice came from the house addressing me. The voice was cursing me and was trying to shame me by openly declaring my sins in a ridiculing manner. We went back to the house and I began to quote Scripture over and over again--John 3:16. It was at this moment that my wife awakened me because I was talking in my sleep--speaking loudly, "For God so love the world that He gave his only begotten son..."

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Team Honduras Update...

Jaren's Honduras Mission Update from CTI:

Team leader Laura Schuh called yesterday and gave us a personal update. She says "we've done 10 concerts in the last 4 days and it's been AMAZING. We've been having a blast touring Honduras. It's a beautiful country." The team is especially enjoying the time they spend with Mauricio Erazo (YFC Honduras National Director - in center of picture below) and his family.
Laura also updated us on a recent political development in Honduras. There is a vote on a controversial referendum scheduled for this Sunday, and the possibility of some disruption in civil services is anticipated (mostly in the capitol city of Tegucigalpa - the team is based in San Pedro Sula, which is 120 miles from the capitol.) Laura assures us that "so far there's been no violence, and we are completely safe." YFC Honduras had already been planning to take the team to neighboring El Salvador this weekend to participate in some ministry there. In order to avoid any potential disruption in travel, they decided to leave a few days early. We have also taken the additional precautionary steps of registering the team's presence with the US Embassy in Honduras, which will allow them to notify the team in the unlikely event that the US advises citizens in Honduras to leave the country.
We received e-mails from the team leaders and Mauricio's wife this morning indicating that all was well, and the team was safe in El Salvador. They expect to be there into the early parts of next week. Once they return to Honduras, they are scheduled for ministry at La Entrada, a YFC camp in the western state of Copan.Laura isn't sure what kind of internet access they'll have in the coming days, but she promises further updates whenever possible.
Please continue to pray for Jaren and his team as they travel and minister.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My Alumni Luncheon...

One of the events of the Southern Baptist Convention that I look forward to each year is the gathering of the alumni of my seminary. The event is normally marked by good food and a brief report concerning the health of the seminary. The good food has consistently been BBQ at least for the past three years. You can imagine my shock when I realize that our alumni luncheon is nothing more than turkey sandwiches and soup. I'm not talking about the fancy kind of turkey sandwiches on fancy bread with subway-type fixings. I'm talking about white bread and lunchmeat. Now you may not sympathize with me yet but please realize that I paid $10 for the priviledge of making myself a turkey sandwich. This compares with the "free" chicken sandwich-wrap-kind-of-thing that I received the day before at the B21 luncheon. It was tasty, came with chips, sweet tea, and even a brownie. I guess to be completely truthful--I did get a strawberry/lemon tart thingy today with my sandwich. Now I am not completely unsympathetic with budget shortfalls that the seminary may be facing. I really don't expect them to feed me a free lunch (remember I paid for this one). I just was really disappointed not to get what I expected--BBQ. It may be that that is all that my $10 would buy this year at the convention center--if so I would have preferred to have purchased a burger in the snackbar. Now perhaps I was a little miffed to be making my own sandwhich (for $10) when I was on the same plane as the president of my alma mater sitting in Coach while he was in First Class. Maybe it's the fact that he had his personal vehicle driven to Kentucky (while he flew) apparently so that he would have his personal ride available. By the way I have no idea what the purpose was or how it may have actually been necessary. May it's the fact that the meeting went on and on...

Ok, I feel much better now...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

North American Mission Board Trustee...

I am both humbled and honored to have been elected today by the Southern Baptist Convention as a Trustee for the North American Mission Board. This is especially meaningful for me in that my mom and dad were missionaries with the Home Mission Board (older version of NAMB) as I was growing up. To have the opportunity to serve our denomination by providing oversight of such a strategic entity is truly amazing. May God grant me wisdom, integrity, and courage to be whatever He needs me to be in my time as a NAMB Trustee.

SBC - Tuesday - 10:14pm

Tuesday's convention activities are now posted at the sbc.net website. You can view them here.

Great day for the most part. I'm very tired and I have another full day ahead. I have lots of opinions and adventures to share. I'll have some time tomorrow to catch you all up on a few things. Good night...

Monday, June 22, 2009

SBC - Monday - 7:35pm

I just have time for a very quick update. The boys and I finished dinner at Spaghetti Factory and headed by the hotel for a brief rest. We're headed back to the convention center in just a few mintutes. Let me just quickly say that this morning's speakers were all tremendous. My favorites at the conference so far in order of preference would be #1 Francis Chan, #2 Ed Stetzer, #3 J.D. Greear, and #4 Tom Elliff. These are all worthy watching from the archives. You can find them at www.sbc.net. I'm expecting Johnny Hunt to be exceptional as well tonight. Let me add that Pastor Eric like Francis Chan the best of all so far. Scott like Fred Luter the best. I should note that two days of listening to preaching (even great preaching) has left me exhausted.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

SBC - Sunday, 10:05pm

It was a great day at the SBC Pastors' Conference. The highlight for me was a reunion of sorts of several of my college friends. We had great time laughing and telling stories for several hours this afternoon.
The music at the Pastors' Conference was excellent tonight. My favorite speaker was J.D. Greear. He distinguished between Religion and Gospel and there was much that I found applicable. I am happy to report that all three of us were alert and present through the entire evening. We picked up our credentials making the three of us legitimate messengers.
Following the meeting, Pastor Eric, Scott, and I stopped by White Castle. This was the first time for the boys--they were not impressed.
I haven't seen Pastor Fernando, Donna, and the boys yet. Pastor Eric texted him and The Caballeros will be leading worship for the Hispanic gathering at 8:00 in the morning. We're going to show up and participate at least for a portion of their meeting.

SBC - Sunday - 8:32am

I'll start the day by sharing a little from my time alone with God. I was up a 7:00am and headed down to the lobby in search of coffee. I found a quiet corner, a $2.15 cup of coffee, and some great time with the Father.

God is: "The Head Over Every Power and Authority" (Col. 2:10). This is good to know with so much chaos going on in the world. He is head over President Obama. He is head over the Iranian president. He is head over the North Korean president. He is head over our SBC leadership. He is head over me!

Proverbs 17:19 says, "Anyone who loves to quarrel loves sin; anyone who speaks boastfully invites disaster". The SBC has been guilty of both quarrelling and boasting. May I be careful today to practice peace-making with a healthy dose of humility.

Luke 7:36-50 describes the account of an immoral woman lavishing love upon Jesus by washing his feet with her tears and kisses. Jesus' explananation is that those who have been forgiven much will love much. Passionate and loving worship of our Savior comes easy to those who understand their depth of depravity and the amazing and gracious forgiveness that Jesus provides. I want to prepare myself to lavish love upon the Father in my worship times today and tonight.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

SBC - Saturday - 9:48pm

Wow! Busy Day! We arrived safe and sound around 2:00pm, gathered our luggage, found our rental car and headed for the hotel. Persons of note on our flight from Dallas to Louisville included Dr. Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (my seminary) and Dr. O.S. Hawkins, president of Guidestone Christian Resources. There were many pastors on the plane--you can always spot them!

After checking in, we headed out to TGIFridays for lunch/dinner. I was shocked to see Scott Coltor order some kind of green-looking wrap thing. Pastor E. and I ate manly food. Next we found our way to The Southern Baptist Seminary and showed ourselves around. It is an impressive campus with an impressive history.

I was dropped off across the river in Indiana at my good friend Richard's hotel. He and I then headed out for dinner/snack at some Italian place on the edge of the river. I had soup and salad (already stuffed). We had a great discussion about both of our ministries. Richard was my student minister when I was in college and also allowed Tina and I to serve on staff under his leadership at FBC, Monterey, Tennessee. Richard is currently on staff at Two Rivers Baptist Church in Nashville and directs the Sight Ministry. He writes a blog here. His primary ministry is to individuals struggling with same-sex attraction. Richard is a brave man of God doing cutting edge ministry that is impacting lives. I'm proud to call him friend!

SBC - Saturday - 6:23am

We made it through security and to the gate without incident. I don't know why but I always get real stressed going through security. It's the fear of the unkown. Our flight is delayed until 8:00am and so we get a little more time to chill at the airport. I've already downed an Egg McMuffin Meal. Eric called Scott in Fort Worth and woke him up . He is going to be on our flight out of DFW.

SBC - Saturday - 3:40am

Eric will be by to pick me up in about forty-five minutes. I'm insanely diligent to make sure that I'm at the airport two hours before my flight. I'm not sure if that is still the recommended time frame or not--I just know that I always have a couple of hours to wait at the gate. I don't mind. I am planning on finishing Conlan Brown's novel "Firstborn". I started a month ago and then my wife somehow got it away from me andI haven't seen it since. She coughed it up last night when I was packing. Conlan is a very talented young man who attended Cornerstone at one time.

The highlight of the day will be dinner with Richard Hollomon. Richard is a good friend who has been influential in my life. He was my BSU director way back at Union University. Tina and I were able to serve together under his leadership at FBC, Monterey. That was my first full-time ministry position. Jaren was just baby at the time and so we're talking sixteen years ago.

BTW, if you don't know already, he covention proceedings including the Pastors' Conference will webcast at http://www.sbc.net/. I would encourage both of my readers to watch some of the convention to get a sense of what it is all about. The Pastors' Conference is a giant worship service with maybe a dozen sermons over the period of a day anda half. The convention itself is just a "ginormous" business meeting. The convention center has wireless and so I should be able to interact with the blog/facebook/email throughout the time that I'm there. I'll try to give a big "heads-up" if something significant or entertaining is going to happen. For example, on Tuesday at 8:40 the agenda calls for "Introduction of Motions". This will be the first opportunity for messengers to bring motions from the floor. This is where we will get a sense of what may be coming...

Friday, June 19, 2009

SBC - Friday - 8:00pm

Tomorrow is the big day when I fly to Louisville for the Southern Baptist Convention. This is only the sixth national convention that I have memory of attending. It is possible that I attended a few when I was kid that I don't recall. It's easy to forget...especially as a young man. I'm working on three in a row: San Antonio--2007, Indianapolis--2008, and now Louisville--2009. I don't know the year but I clearly remember going to St. Louis with my parents. I remember because we were the guests of the Womens' Missionary Union and they paid all of the bills which meant that we ate well and stayed in a very nice downtown hotel. We even went to Six Flags one day--awesome time. I was around 13 or 14. I also remember befriending a bum on the street and inviting him up to our room. I know it seems insane but I was allowed to wonder around downtown St. Louis all on my own. I'm lucky that the guy didn't rob us or something. He just seemed nice and I guess he was. The other convention that I remember was in Salt lake City. I was pastoring in Lipan, Texas and my youth pastor and I along with another friend went to the convention together. We had a blast as I recall. We spent some time up in the mountains, we drove out into the Great Salt Lake Desert, and we toured the Mormon Temple. We also participated in "Cross Over" which is an evangelistic outreach that is accomplished every year in the host city. We stayed in a really dumpy motel in the bad part of town. Every morning we had new chalk art in the parking lot in the shape of a fallen man.

This year I will be joined by Eric and Scott. Eric is my youth/associate pastor and Scott is a student at Southwestern Seminary. We think that Scott is on our flight out of Dallas. I have plenty of pranks in store for young Scott . I am just about finished packing and my lovely bride Tina is ready to go for a walk. Talk at ya later!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Shin-Soo Choo wins game by hitting a bird

There are a lot of distractions in life. Sometimes they cost you the game...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Jaren's Mission Team...

Here is an update from Jaren's Mission Team:

Hello!!!! This is Team Honduras checking in!!!

We’ve been really busy over the last week learning music (16 songs in 5 days!), learning about how to share our testimonies, and just having fun as a team. Last night we had our first practice concert and were blessed with the opportunity to share our excitement with the Hong Kong team as well. Our Bible studies and devotions have been teaching us what it means to be a servant. Philippians 2 has been our focus for all of training - imitating the servant posture of Christ. Other than that, it’s been really fun getting to know each other and learning how to be a team. We’re looking forward to another week of learning about what our ministry will look like in Honduras. It’s going to be an amazing summer, and we’re so grateful for all of your support. If you’d like to be praying for us, here are some specific requests:

Memorization: 12 of the 16 songs are in Spanish, and instrumentalists have a ton of chords to remember!

Health: Don’t worry! We’re all still healthy, but we’d like to stay that way! Pray for rest and rejuvenation daily.

Unity: God has brought together 12 very different people and we are learning what it means to put those differences to good use- covering each others’ weaknesses and drawing on each others’ strengths- to become one unified body working together to serve God’s Kingdom.