Strangers in the small church

Assemble the people, the men and the women and children and [a]the alien who is in your [b]town, so that they may hear and learn and fear the Lord your God, and be careful to observe all the words of this law." Deuteronomy 31:12
The people of FBC Sutherland Springs gathered yesterday for church just like they had for decades and decades.  By now you know how the story ended.  In a terrible, tragic, act of evil that is beyond words a man walked into the church and killed over 20 people there to worship.  Those who died ranged in age from 5 to 72. It’s the deadliest mass shooting at a church in history.  It’s crazy that there is even a category for “mass shootings at a church.”  
If you go to FBC Sutherland Springs Youtube page you can watch the services over the past several weeks.  The church looks just like dozens of churches that I have been over the years.  Churches this size make up the majority of the Southern Baptist Convention, and the majority of churches in America.  Chanc…

Big Data and the Holy Spirit

It has happened to me, and I bet that it has happened to you.  As I mindlessly scroll through Facebook, I saw it,  There was an ad for something that I had been looking at a day before on Amazon. Maybe it was eBay or Amazon,  or  it could've been Facebook or Twitter.  It's easy to get the feeling that we are being watched, and we feel that way  because we are.  You are always being watched.  Corporations like Facebook and Amazon are always collecting data on you.  Everywhere you go on the internet they are collecting data.  They know about your shopping habits, about your diet needs, and about your special love for all things 90's.  That is why you see these ads everywhere.  It's called targeted advertising.  It's as if someone followed you around Walmart keeping track of everything you looked, everything you picked up and put down, and then suggested items to you that might be interested in.  if you are like me, there have been times I have just thought about som…

To the one who feels forgotten

If someone asks who your father is, you can probably answer that. That’s not that impressive.You can probably name your grandfather also.How about your great grandfather?“Grampa Holmes” is all I know, but I know if I dug around some in an old bible I could find it.How about your great great grandfather?Now it’s getting harder.Could you name your great-great-great grandfather?Unless you have an account on a genealogy website, you are pretty much done after going back 1 or 2 generations.
In a world where so many are focused on getting their 15 minutes a fame, it’s a sobering reminder that most of the people in the world will be forgotten in 2 or 3 generations. We don’t even know our own family members, let alone the billions of people who lived on the east 200 years ago.
Even those who engage in God’s work are often forgotten by the world.There are some names who stand out.Names like Spurgeon, Ryle, Calvin, Luther, or Edwards stand out. Around those men that are remembered were multitud…

Preach like Carl Sagan, not Neil deGrasse Tyson

There were thousands of articles written about the recent solar eclipse.Scientific explanations, helpful advice, and lots of information about those glasses.Many people walked outside to look up, some traveling hundreds of miles to be in the path of totality.

Many news channels had wall to wall coverage, each with their own man or woman of science to explain things.Some were meteorologists, some were actually astronomers, and others just people who found it all very interesting.I was not in the path of totality, but as I flipped around the channels on the tv, it became clear that not all the broadcasts were the same. Some of the newscasters were very interested in it and it showed. Some were only covering it because their boss made them, and it showed too.
Later that day I came across this description of the the movements of the sun by famed scientist Carl Sagan.A noted atheist, he was nonetheless very eloquent in his description of the cosmos.

The way that Sagan wrote provokes a sense …

Words that Don't Go Together

There are some words or phrases that just don’t go together.“Jumbo Shrimp,” “New Antiques,” “kind of pregnant,” or “sort of married” are some that come to my mind. Other phrases can become part of our standard english, like “virtual reality” or “Icy Hot.”In the English language we call them “oxymorons,” a funny sounding word in and of itself.That word has a greek origin, and could be translated as “pointedly foolish.”Another way to say it is that it’s a statement that makes a self-contradiction. All that intelligence I got from Wikipedia.(And that sentence is another oxymoron.)
We all slip up in our speech sometime, but the Bible often uses these pointed phrases to drive home a point. The Bible often takes words that don’t go together, and puts them together, to grab our attention and help us see the point more clearly. For example, Paul writes “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live” in Galatians 2:20.The Gospels tell of“Virgin birth,” and Jesus says that “the first shall be…

My Falls Creek Spot

Get off at Exit 51, go past the fried pie place, and head towards what is officially called 77D, but what most people just call the “High Road.”  If you are one of the millions who have been to Falls Creek Baptist Campgrounds over the years, then you recognize these directions.  Falls Creek has been a special place in the heart of Oklahoma Baptist’s for 100 years now, and those campgrounds have seen God move mightily over the years.  It was reported this summer that over 2.3 million people have camped at Falls Creek over the years, more than 66 thousand have been led to Christ there, and over 36 thousand felt that God called them to serve in vocational ministry.  God has worked in many more lives than that to be sure, drawing people to Himself through the work of preachers, sponsors, youth pastors, camp staffers, and more.
If you continue on up the “high road,” then you will come to the new gate.  Enter through that gate, and drive up to the first intersection and turn right at the Hea…

The Cliffs of Preaching

I wouldn't say I'm afraid of heights. I'd just say that I don't like being up high. This came into full view recently with my first visit to the Grand Canyon. Being in Gods nature has always been good for my soul, and this was no different. The glorious views remind me of Gods goodness, power, and glory. 
But when I walked up to the edge the first time, I was torn between my desire to look over the edge and take in the view, and my overwhelming desire for personal safety and to step away from the edge. Sometimes there was a railing, which I made it a little better. I gripped with white knuckles, forcing myself to look out at the view and not look down. Other places there was no rail, just cliffs. I wanted to do it, to see it, to take in the view. We hiked a trail down the side of a cliff, with severe drop offs, and I loved every minute that I wasn't terrified. 
Loving it when I'm not terrified also sums up the way I feel about preaching.  When I was called to pre…