My heart goes out to the family of Rev. Fred Winters, pastor of First Baptist Church, Maryville, IL. According to news reports a gunman killed him in the middle of services at his church this morning. Read a news report HERE.
Cheryl shared the story with me this afternoon while driving back into town. It’s all I’ve been able to think about since. There’s not a sense of fear on my part as a pastor, I just can’t stop thinking about his family and his church. I don’t want to bring more undue attention to the family at such a time as this, although I’m sure the media will cover it thoroughly, but you can read about his family and even see a picture of them on the church’s website. (It wouldn’t surprise me if they take the site down for a couple days shortly.)
In looking through the site I was impressed with the church’s vision. Rev. Winters seemed to have great plans for the future. If you spend some time on the church’s website, check out the future building plans of the church. Wow! One thing that impressed me, and made me realize how God prepares us at times, is the current sermon series Dr. Winters was preaching through. You can listen HERE. Pastor Winters was teaching his church how to be happy in the midst of a scary world. Listen to his sermon from February 22, 2009. He says, “The number one factor in finding happiness in life is faith”, based on Philippians 4:4-9. He goes onto say that all of us desire something deeper than happiness. We want joy and it is not based on our circumstances, but our faith. The news report says Dr. Winters was a “happy” person. I think I know why. (He ends his faith message with a story about his daughters. Prior to the message on faith he had preached on the importance of family. I plan to listen to that sermon next.) I would say he left a great legacy to all who will follow. Let Reverend Winter’s message encourage all of us during the times of uncertainty in the world.
Please pray for this pastor’s family, the church, and the Kingdom of God in the coming days.
Regardless of your politics, we will soon have a new first family. Honestly, I’m excited about watching children growing up in the White House again. The Obama’s seem like a loving, close family, and it will be interesting getting to know them as they become the daily news focus in the coming months.
True story. This morning I was thinking about and praying for our new president-elect and the changes about to occur in his young family’s life. The thought occurred to me that the new president and first lady should help their girls acclimate to their new home by gifting them with a new puppy.
I did a quick online search to make sure the Obama family does not already have a family pet. According to published reports, President-elect Obama has promised his daughter Malia a puppy. The dilemma is whether to get her a pedigree to help with her allergies or support the animal shelter and get a mutt.
If you had to pick a first dog, which breed would you select? Could you see the Obama family with a Pembroke Welsh corgi or a West Highland white terrier? Or, are they a “pick the dog who needs the most love from the animal shelter” type of family? What do you think?
I’m a dreamer. I always want to do more with life. I believe dreams are a healthy way to stretch the mind, keep a person growing, and even stay emotionally healthy. (“Where there is not vision, the people perish.”) On a recent plane ride I jotted down ten goals that I still have for my life. God willing, I’m going to spend my life dreaming they come true!
1. Train young leaders to be “giant killers” for the Kingdom of God.
2. Help hurting pastors be restored to vibrant ministry.
3. See dying churches revitalized.
4. Help Cheryl fulfill her dreams; and help her dream bigger dreams for herself!
5. Watch more boys marry godly women.
6. Become a granddad! (I’ll take number 5 first, but I’ll be ready!)
7. Travel to Africa and Asia.
8. See patriotism restored as a personal value for all Americans.
9. Accept fully Christ’s love and forgiveness (with no regrets from the past).
10. Hear “Well done, my good and faithful servant!”
What dreams do you have for your life? What are your current goals? Feel free to share them here.
I’ve been asking lately to see some good news. Well I saw some today. It was the headline in our local paper. The headline in the Clarksville Leaf Chronicle reads: 101st begins mass return from Iraq 80 soldiers home from a 14-month deployment. We love our soldiers and their families. Welcome home heroes! Over the next few months our church and community will be surrounded with smiling faces, tears, and reunions as our troops come home from Afghanistan and Iraq! I can’t wait! God bless their speedy return.
Our community group is going through Purpose Driven Life. For some of us this is a refresher and for others it is the first time. (Interestingly, everyone in the group owned a copy of the book, but not everyone had read it.) Last night we considered week two. As a supplement to the book, I asked these questions. We had lots of good discussions and I’m still pondering my answers.
1. What does it mean “to please God”?
Do you believe your life brings God pleasure?
2. How do you feel about the statement: Worship is not for your benefit?
3. What is something your children do that makes you smile?
Would you rather have your children’s time or a plaque for the wall?
Do you want your children to trust you?
How do you think these the answers to these questions translate to your relationship with God?
4. If it’s true God smiles when we trust Him completely, is He smiling now about your trust in Him?
Where are you struggling/need to trust Him more?
Where are you struggling/need to obey Him more?
5. What is one fear/worry/burden you need to surrender to God?
6. What is the greatest barrier you have to prayer?
7. Have you weathered a time when God seemed distant?
What did you do?
8. How has your relationship with God changed over the years?
Spend some time considering these questions and your own answers to them.
The Psalmist David cried out, “To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul; in you I trust, O my God. Do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me.” (Psalm 25:1-2)
As you begin another work week, perhaps you, like me, would like to see God be God! Why not pray this prayer? “So, okay Lord, the rest is up to you. Do your thing! Make it happen! I’m counting on you. This is your week. Don’t let me down! May it be, (and I be), all you would have it/me to be!”
I don’t intend to sound irreverent, but isn’t that what we want? Don’t you agree that is basically what David was asking for in this Psalm? He wanted God to do His part as David did his.
Think of it this way; we are to put our trust in God and God alone. We are to give Him priority in our life; above all else! We are to rely on Him and look to Him to supply all our needs. We are to abide in Him; literally allow Him to take up residence in our life, as we rest in His tender, loving care and He guides us through each day. He is to be the source of our strength and the desire of our heart. We are to let Him be the Lord of our life.
But, then, we want Him to respond to our commitment, don’t we? We want Him to protect us. We want Him to shelter us from those who would seek to do us harm. We want Him to heal our hurts and dry our tears. We want Him to grant us success, peace and joy. We want Him to keep us from the shame and persecution of our energies. We want God to be God; don’t we?
If that’s true then on this Monday, let’s actually do it. Let’s let God be God! Let us wholeheartedly, unashamedly allow God to take over our activities, transform our hearts and minds into moldable instruments of His wonderful grace and glory. Let’s allow God to show off His best in us this week as we submit humbly to our Maker and wait on Him to supply all our needs!
(I know; that’s much easier to write than to do, but it’s my goal. How about you?)