Monday, December 17, 2012

The Day Everything Changed

I was in the office most of the day on Friday, December 14th only two days after I had posted a blog in regards to 12/12/12 and to the wonder and joy of Christmas. It was a fun blog, but today we don't laugh, we cry.  We cry with families from a small community in Ct., perhaps a little like Camden.

 It caught my eye as the headlines began to scroll on the 14th and I began to see that a shooting, the Sandy Hook School shootings, were worse than tragic.  Twenty first graders and six teachers shot and killed in the sanctuary of their elementary school and classrooms.  How can this happen in America? Innocent kids, faithful teachers, and a principal that loved here students.  Anger, disbelief and pain.  Oh, pray for the hole and the emptiness of loss that is in each families heart tonight.

We have a number of teachers in our church family, and our children are both teachers. Sunday was a very emotional day in our pupit and no doubt in most.This merciless killing spree has torn the heart of every American. Our hearts once again bleed together as a nation.  One that comes together in times of need and loss.

As the President searched for words, he spoke as a father, not just the President.  He was moved to tears and brief moments of pause to regain his composure.  He mentioned prayer, and quoted Scripture, reminding us all, that there is only one place we can turn to for help when there are so many unanswered questions.That place is to the Lord God.

Psalm 46:1  says that God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Psalm 121:1-8 I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. [2] My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth. [3] He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber. [4] Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. [5] The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.

I pray right now for these families that have suffered great loss.  I pray for the survivors whose lives will never be the same.  Lives that will be scarred with the ringing of gunshots and the screams of frightened classmates.  I pray for the parents that are looking at empty beds tonight and those that are placing their hands on a cold casket today and in the days ahead.  I pray for those who have lost spouses, and mothers, and sisters. I pray for the teachers as they try to go forward with their students in Newtown, as well as across the country. I thank God for those who tried to stop him and for those who stepped in front of a killers aim to protect her kids. I pray tonight for the family that remains behind of the one responsible for these senseless killings. Oh if he would have known Jesus he would have understood that there was hope for whatever problems he had.  How many of us have held our kids or grand kids tighter, looked at them longer, prayed for them with more conviction and urgency.

My daughter Stacy teaches third grade.  One of her students told her parents that if that had happened at her school, Mrs. Herrmann would have done the same thing. Oh I pray that we never see this again. 
God help us! If anyone understands it is God, as he watched an innocent Son die unjustly.  Through the pain and fog of grief, what man has intended for evil, may the Lord bring about something good.

Take our hand precioous Lord and lead us.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12/12/12 and Christmas

It is hard to believe that Christmas is less than two weeks away.  Today as I write on December 12, 2012 it is the last time in our lifetime that the month will match up with the year.

Today at as I left lunch, the person checking me out asked, "Do you think the end of the world is coming on December 21?"  

The Lord opened up a door for me to share Christ, and that the world will end one day.. at the Father's command, not the prediction of a person here on earth.

The first Christmas was about Light coming into the darkness.  About Hope that would be born so we can have peace about the future and what is ahead of us.  While 12/12/12 is a day that will be the last of it's kind for our generation, it is symbolic of this season as well.

While past Christmases bring wonderful memories, and perhaps even some pain, we can't go back and relive it the exact same way.  God allows us to make new memories right where life meets the road, the here and now.

If God allows and we celebrate one more in a few days, here are some things I want to do more of this Christmas.

1.Listen more and talk less
2.Thank God and people more and complain less.
3. Forgive more and have a shorter memory when hurt. 
4. Give more and receive less.
5. Sit in the floor with the grandsons and just watch their excitement and energy.
6. Realize that tears of gratitude are a good thing not to be ashamed of.
7. Thank the Lord more for the greatest family in the world.
8. Recognize and pray more for families that are hurting this Christmas.
9. Be a better pastor and leader to those God has entrusted to me.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Bigger than the Buckeyes?

 Having been home a few days from the 59th annual State Convention of Ohio Baptists, I now have an opportunity to share some things that greatly blessed me. It was at a waterpark! A new standard for the other states to follow.
I must say that I have been a little withdrawn from our State Convention lately. Don't get me wrong, we still are a strong CP giving and mission going church, and we do appreciate all the SCBO has done and continues to do to help us reach Ohio and over 7 million without Christ, but I have not been too involved lately.

1. The fellowship was good. Not only with Renee and my mom and dad,   I have forgotten how much preachers need each other to encourage each other on the journey of ministry.

2. The reports were encouraging :  The many reports of folks who came to Christ and were baptized, 44 church plants, some good unexpected financial blessings that allowed for property mortgage burning, great ministry reports, and tremendous cooperation with NAMB while working together to obey the Great Commission. The Next Factor looks like a solid model.

3. Did you know that Ohio had a National Champion Bible Drill Winner?

4. Perhaps one of the greatest takeaways was the preaching. It was tremendous and each speaker brought God's Word in Power and Truth. Dr. Jack Kwok, President Mike Wilson, Pastor David Starry, and wrapped up by S.B.C. President Fred Luter. (Pictured above with Doug wolf and myself) What a great convention of preaching. Dwayne Lee led a great band that led us in worship and three of the ladies from 4Real were his praise team.

I love the Buckeyes, but the biggest news in Ohio is still Jesus Christ, He's on the throne and changing lives!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Does Revival Really Make A Difference?

After experiencing one of the greatest weeks of Revival I have ever been a part of with Dr. Phil Hoskins and Greg Lockridge here in Camden, I praise the Lord for allowing us to be part of something bigger than us.  What a blessing to pastor a church that loves the preached Word, each other, this community, and not only their pastor, but preachers.

Revival?  You just don't hear too much about Revivals any more.  Most of the time it seems that the context in which the word is used is when we are talking about our nation or world.    Now please understand, we desperately need it as a nation. But why have so many pastors and churches abandoned the concept of having revival meetings? why is it becoming common to hear, "We don't have revivals anymore."

I recognize that some pastors have been humiliated in front of a guest speaker by a church that didn't support it, by being present or by sacrificial giving.  Many churches that once scheduled revivals regularly have stopped simply due to competing for time with other things families are involved in.

Revival doesn't come riding in with a preacher, yet I believe as a pastor, that God uses a fresh voice not only for the church but for me as the pastor.  This was also the first time that we had brought  in a Music Evangelist, and this was great for our Worship Team to learn from him.

Old School and conservative traditionalist  may be just a few things that people may think of me and of the ministry here in Camden, but that's ok. We rejoice over the two young adults that gave their hearts to Christ and for the many decisions of recommitment that were made by believers.

Revivals and Evangelists do make a difference. We all need a fresh touch from God.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Cookies, Golf Carts, and Ministry

This past week we arrived Sunday evening at Ridgecrest Conference Center for a Lifeway Trustee Meeting.
Upon checking in, I was greeted with a smile and an offer. "Would you like some cookies and a bottle of water?" After a brief glance, I said Ann! I could tell at first she did not recognize me, then she said, "Greg, you look just like your dad! John is down flipping burgers. We  have been here most of the summer."

Ann and John Bailey are retired from ministry and John was the Music Director at North Dayton Baptist church  and we were neighbors when I was a boy, in the early 70's. I couldn't believe that the Lord would put our meeting at a time when I would be reunited with a couple that shaped some of my early church life.

Following a late plenary session meeting I walked to Clouds Coffee Shop to get something and began to walk up the hill when along side of me pulled a golf cart passenger car.  Who was driving it?  John Bailey! We rode together in the front seat and reminisced about days gone by. After a lot of laughter we prayed there in the dark in front of Mountain Laurel Inn.

What did this reunion teach me?
1.No task is too small when it comes to serving Jesus.
2.Joy is contagious.
3.We never really retire from ministry.
4.An encouraging word goes a long way.

1 Cor. 15:58
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. 

Who would ever think that Cookies and Golf Carts = Ministry? It does for me.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Revival In July?

Two great bits of advice I received from my boyhood pastor/ mentor Bro. Joe Baker was: Never evaluate your ministry on:  1) Monday 2) or in the month of August.  Well , yesterday was certainly the exception as we close out July.  July 29, 2012 will go down as one of those days that may be part of a Revival that God is blessing our church with.

After a tremendous Vacation Bible School, and twelve decisions, we followed up immediately. Several returned calls and we planned to baptize three, God blessed as we baptized 8.  You talk about a Holy Hallelujah! This may well be the second greatest harvest day in the baptismal water that I have ever witnessed.  To top it off, a teenage boy came forward and shared he was ready to give his life to Jesus.  I am telling you that God blessed us with a day that we pray and long for.  Four of those that were baptized were sisters with the youngest being a leukemia survivor that God continues to heal.

I am not sharing this to boast somehow about us, because it is evident, when God shows up big things happen. Ephes. 3:20   Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,

 Anything good that happens here is because of the grace and mercy of Christ.
 Galatians 6:14  But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. 

Looking forward to trusting God with the days ahead.  What a journey!
Revival in July? Can it happen?  Yes, and Praise the Lord!

Monday, July 2, 2012

One Shot To Make A First Impression

   The man you see pictured here is Pastor Bill Combs of Trinity Baptist Church in Parma, Ohio. I had the privilege to travel with a group of 21 from Camden to serve on a Mission Trip last week.
   Pastor Bill has been there a little over a year, and the church seemed to have some history that had led to splitting and people leaving. I am grateful for this preacher of 30 years to step in at an hour of great need.

   I sensed as if part of our time in Parma was to encourage the Shepherd of this local congregation.  Our folks did a great job of just that.

  One way we did that was by cleaning and getting their sign updated.  Not a big deal to most, but it was a reminder to me that first impressions are huge.  You don't get a second shot with some folks, so it is important to make the most of every opportunity.

  The same is true in worship.  We may get only one shot, so it is imperative that people hear a message from God's Word, and that the message points a person clearly to Jesus and his saving work on the cross of Calvary.  What a privilege we have to preach the precious gospel of Jesus Christ.

  My summary of the trip would be that they taught us a lot more than we really helped them.
God help us to always be ON MISSION.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Stacy's Song Pt . 2

We are now officially in a group of parents known as empty nesters. Here is my review of the wedding of our daughter Stacy to Kyle Herrmann this past Saturday. Two alterations to my tux. Had I worn the second pair of pants with white socks we would have been moonwalking to Thriller. A good cry on Thursday helped relieve some feelings. Beautiful day! Renee looked beautiful! She is a great wife, mom, mamaw. Have never witnessed a more pretty group of girls standing beside the bride. Two nieces, daughter in law, and the rest of the girls I have performed their weddings. One word when I saw Stacy; STUNNING! Her dress was perfect for her. She looked elegant and comfortable. Loved her hair. Packed house! Never knew the impact of four short words as a dad. "Her mother and I." I stepped in at that point and we had a great service. I thank God that I did not ruin it by breaking down. The Lord gave me a great peace through the service. Many friends,tremendous support from both churches. Reception was packed,folks were gracious, food was good, people had fun. But most importantly Stacy and Kyle were pleased. We are blessed to welcome Kyle into our family. The name may have changed for sis, but dad will always be singing her song! Congratulations Mr. And Mrs. Herrmann!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Stacy's Song

This Saturday I will walk Stacy down the aisle to become Mrs. Kyle Herrmann.  I am so blessed as a son, brother, husband , and dad, and now father in law and papaw.   

Day 1 I will never forget.
The day she was born.  What a beautiful healthy little girl who has been nothing but a blessing to her mom and me. 
Day 2 I will never forget.
The day she gave her life to Christ. Some people talk about Jesus yet never live for Him.  Stacy has been a faithful witness, and has not wavered. I praise the Lord for that.
Day 3 I will never forget.
This Saturday, her wedding day. This Song by Steve and Annie Chapman is special to our family, and there is no way, I could hear this Saturday and stay composed enough not only to give her away, but to perform the service so here are the lyrics.

Stacy is a special girl.

Daddy Don't You Know 

She skipped across the room in her pretty new dress
Did a ballerina turn in her patent leather shoes
And to say the very least
I was impressed
She was my little girl

And we played our little game again
I said "Who's the only man in your heart?"
And she smiled as we held each other's hands
And she said, "Daddy don't you know?
Daddy don't you know?
You're the only man in my heart"

A few years later in her life
I saw her walking home from school
She had her books in her arms
And a young man at her side
And I felt a jealous pain
And I felt just like a fool
But when the young man told her bye
I said, "Can I walk with you?"

And we played our little game again
I said "Who's the only man in your heart?"
And she smiled as we held each other's hands
And she said, "Daddy don't you know?
Daddy don't you know?
You're the only man in my heart"

Now it's hard to believe this day has come and gone
He put a ring on her hand
That held her Daddy's heart
And I'll always remember as they played her wedding song
The words my little girl said to me

"Daddy, can we play a little game?
Who's the only little girl in your heart?"
And I cried as I softly called her name
And I said, "Honey don't you know?
Honey don't you know?
You're the only little girl in my heart"

"You'll always be that little girl in my heart"

You're The Only Little Girl
© 1986 Steve & Annie Chapman / Shepherd's Fold Music

Friday, May 25, 2012

Confessions of a Sponsoring Church Plant Pastor

From time to time I will be giving some principles and lessons I am learning as we plant Hope Community Church @Old North Dayton. The first preview service this past Sunday night took off  and what a great blessing it was.  There were 92 in attendance and one that we know of invited Christ into their life.

We have been involved in several church plants, but never the sponsoring church. This night was special and we believe this work is going to be special. 21 of our folks made the trip and we had a great time of serving, worshiping, along with the fellowship that followed.

Here it goes:  A few confessions as the pastor of a church that is sponsoring a church plant. 

Here are 10 initial thoughts.

             #1. There has to come a time where you quit talking about planting a  church it and just do it.    #2.  It is a great blessing to see a traditional church recognize that God wants to use us in other  places. It energizes the home church. # 3.  Sponsoring a church will cost you.  There is no cheap way to do it. # 4. Sponsoring a church may cost you people.  God will bless. # 5. It is crucial for you to have a plant pastor that is trained for the task  ahead. #6. One church can't do it by themselves.  I praise the Lord for the partners  He has given Hope Community. # 7.  I am amazed that many pastors claim to be planting a church, yet offer no support,  whether  in  the area of people or finances. # 8.  Planting a church is not for the lazy. #9.  I respect our church planter.  He seems to respect me. We are learning from each other. #10. Not sure why it has taken 19 years for me and us to get to this point in ministry.    
The best is yet to come.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Mr. Know It All!

Today I returned from the Woodstock Church Planting School that came to Columbus. Had a great time with our Church Plant Pastor Randy Chestnut and came away with a few new takeaways. Lessons that God used to once again humble this Camden pastor. #1 Church Planters have to walk by faith #2 Church planters have a Heart to reach the Kingdom #3 Not all church planters are young #3 Church planters must partner to survive #4 Church planters are more concerned about conversion growth rather than transfer growth. #5 Church planters work hard. #6 I have pre judged many young planters thinking they thought they knew it all. God forgive me. These planters have a great deal to teach me. Lord help us to be reminded that we are laborers in the field .... Together...We need you and we need each other.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Reality Check!

When I am afraid, I will trust in You. Ps. 56:3

With Stacy's fast approaching wedding date of June 9, it is hard to believe that time is drawing near. A member called with a word of encouragement and asked me to read the devotion from Lifeway's Stand Firm for April 9.

Wayne Watson's lyrics to "The Class of 95" have a prophetic ring to them in the stage of life I now find myself as a husband, son, dad, and now two time Papaw!

"Every living thing is sure with time to come of age,

Just like girls and boys outgrow their toys and reach to turn the page,

So this is what I bargained for, A hushed hello and a rushed goodbye,

Old folks said I'd be amazed at how quickly time would fly,

Even so I'm thankful that God saw fit to lend,

this child into my unworthy hands, who's less a child now,

and more a friend...."

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

What's Wrong With Religion?

Last night I took part in a revival service and was blessed to hear one of our favorite evangelist, Dr. Ronnie Owens from Tennessee. Taken from Matthew 6, the question was asked, "Why do we do what we do?
The title of his message captivated me. "The Top Ten Things Wrong With Religion." I believe this is a message that every christian should hear, as well as those who do not know Christ and are searching.

Have you have ever found yourself in any of these? With his permission, here they are?

1. Religion is more interested in what you do, rather than who you are.

2. Religion is more concerned about coming to church than being the church.

3. Religion builds up a few to tear down everyone else.

4. Religion creates clones not changed lives.

5. Religion adds it's own set of rules to the Bible.

6. Religion complicates things. Jesus made it simple.

7. Religion asks the wrong questions. Do you go to church? The right question to ask is do you know Jesus?

8. Religious people are obsessed with recognition.

9. Religion looks good at first glance.

10.Religion cares more about keeping rules rather than relationships.

Lord forgive me when I fall into this rut. Just give me Jesus!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

It's Not Just About Tim Tebow

The NBA's strike shortened season has already been forgotten, due largely to one Jeremy Lin, the young sensation who is turning the Knicks into real contenders.

He is humble, more interested in team, and takes public opportunities to glorify the Lord. Sounds a bit like a quarterback this year who played for the Bronco's doesn't it?

The lesson that I am learning is that God always has a person ready to step up and shine for Jesus. It will be interesting to see what the media does with the faith of Lin. The great thing is that young fans and the world of media are hearing the same message. It is Christ who has blessed and it is Christ who will be glorified by a consistent testimony.

Tebow at times seemed embarrassed by all of the attention. Let us pray for Jeremy Lin that He too will not allow the lights to take away the focus from the True Light.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Staying Hungry

Recently my daughter in law shared that our grandson Aiden is waking up in the morning now hungry and ready for breakfast. That is the sign of a healthy growing body desiring to be fed.

This year in my own spritual life, I want to wake up, live the day, and retire at night hungry to live in obedience to the Lord. As a Christian, too many times we desire to fill the hunger spot in our heart with the junk food of the world. I am asking God to give me and to give our church a hunger for the word of God this year like we have never had.

I have once again discovered that in reading through the Bible so far in 2012, that you don't have to go too far to find a sermon and an outline. The Bible speaks for itself and is the best source for sermon illustrations to support the text.

I am embarking on a self study of the Greek language. While I will never master a foreign language, I need all the tools I can get to help me be a better preacher and expositor of the Word of God.

Recently as a church, we have been surveying the Old Testament. I am humbled by how much I don't know, and challenged and stirred by how much we can know.

My prayer for myself, and my prayer for you. Lord keep us hungry!
Open your Bible and dig in! There is plenty for all of us.