Monday, April 4, 2011


As a younger man (which I am no longer), I saw a dynamic which concerned me greatly then and still concerns me today.  I had not been a Christian long when I began seeing  men who were then my age now developing a very unhealthy attitude.  They had subscribed to the train of thought of "I have put in my time. I have worked hard all my life and now am very comfortable.  I intend to enjoy life."  Well, so far, not too dangerous a set of thoughts, but wait.  They would go from there as say, not verbally, mind you, but with every fiber of their being, would say, "I have served God faithfully and now it's time for the younger generation to step up and do their fair share.  They have the energy and and mine is waining so I am going to sit back and relax."

Those desires are, not only unbiblical, they are downright dangerous.  Dangerous how, Dwight?  Glad you asked.  One of my favorite devotion books has become "The Complete Green Letters" by Miles Stanford recommended by by friend from Argentina, Will Herndon.  In the chapter entitled "Process of Discipleship," Stanford says,
           "So many seek to settle for this stage; saved with heaven assured-plus a pacifying measure of
           Christian respectablility, at least in church circles. Here we have the believer as a normal kernel of 
           wheat containing life inside a more or less shiny golden covering, in fellowship high up on the stalk
           with similar kernels of wheat.  This is but a stage, not the goal. And, like middle age, this can be a
           dangerous stage: one of seeking a 'much deserved' rest: of basking aimlessly in the fellowship of
           meetings, classes, etc.; of ignoring or forgetting the struggles and growing pains of the tiny green
           blades down at one's feet, and expecting and exhorting them to shape up and mature without delay."

My heart aches for those who are missing so much.  It is true that the physical body cannot do at 60 or even 50 what it could at 30 or even 40. However, we can do what we can do.  One of my heroes in the faith is Harry Piland.  Harry was the director of the Sunday School department at the Baptist Sunday School Board (now LifeWay) when I first became involved in Sunday School work.  Not only at 70 did Harry fuel a fire in my heart for Christian education but he set an example for us all in his last years.

After Harry retired from the Sunday School Board, he began serving as minister of education at churches.  This continued until brain cancer ended his life and took him to Glory.  Oh, how my desire is that my last years be my best years!  And I hope it's yours too.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

If Only...

Last Wednesday night Zannie and I both raised the average age in our mid-week service considerably.  The Decatur D-Now kick-off was at Decatur Baptist Church and we wanted to see what was going on.  The young man leading the concert was, so I was told, the worship leader for Andy Stanley's church in Atlanta.  Yeah, we were a bit out of our element-in the presence of about 1500 sreaming, rocking, jumping, worshipping, and praising high school students. 

I began thinking later about when I was in high school and the youth group events we had. I remember going to the youth evangelism conference in Nashville one Saturday and I remember serving for a Valentine banquet.  That's about all the activities besides an occasion pizza party we ever had.  I began to wonder how things would have been if we had 1st Priority.  We've had almost 200 students across our county saved already this year because of 1st Priority.  I wondered how many young people might have turned out differently in years past if the youth pastors were like the dedicated student pastors of today.  I know that there have been great youth leaders in my generation and we probably have some not so good ones today.  But that is not what I have experienced and am experiencing today.

I do actually envy students today.  I have seen in recent days some of the most dedicated young men of God anywhere!  I see young people being taught to not only live out their faith on a daily basis but I see students leading frineds to Christ and brining their lost friends to church.  They are not doing this out of obligation or peer pressure but from a deep desire to see their friends enter into a saving realationship with Christ.

There is hope for this generation.  In fact, we could learn much about their commitment.

Monday, January 31, 2011


I know it's not the Thanksgving season, but after all, isn't it always the season to be thankful?  I just had a brief conversation with my pastor who had shoulder surgery a couple of weeks ago and is in a great deal of pain all the time right now.  I have seen several emails today from people who are dealing with some very serious health issues.  Then there are those who are requesting prayer for employment.

And then there's me; I am blessed beyond measure.  I am convinced that no man living or dead has or had a better wife than me.  Few as good either.  God gave us three great kids and three awesome granddaughters.  I've healed pretty much completely from my recent knee surgery. I serve a church that has a staff so committed to their areas of ministry that it's a true blessing to come in to the office each day.   God has given me a ministry assistant who truly does keep me on track and doesn't just do her job (and extremely well, I might add) but one who has a standard of excellence and a haert for doing things above and beyond constantly.

The teachers I lead love God, love His Word, and love their flocks.They are as agreeable a bunch as I have ever had the joy and pleasure to work with.

The news is filled with articles of persecution and famine and tragedy.  I'll go home to a comfortable home and rest tonight with no fear.  Many today will make choices today as to which child gets fed; my biggest choice regarding food today has been toast or cereal for breakfast and what to order from the Crack Barrel menu at lunch.

I have the down payment of heaven in the Holy Spirit Who lives in me.  I truly am blessed!

My goodness!  I live a life for which I am truly thankful!

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Gift is Coming!

This Christmas is a bit different from all the ones of years before and not just because it's Christmas Present instead of Christmas Past.   Because Austin and his family have gotten stranded a couple of times in snow on the interstate in Indiana on their way south, we decided to do Christmas with all the kids and grand girls on the day after Thanksgiving.  Lots of fun to be with the girlies when they started opening presents!

So Christmas activities are, more or less, in the rear view mirror for us.  Zannie, Andrew, and I will be going to Gulf Shores for Christmas; that'll be a bit different.  And we have the staff Christmas party ahead of us but things are gearing down now; however...

There is still one more gift Zannie and I are waiting for.  Our house is listed on the real estate market and we are waiting for God to bring us a buyer but that's not all of the gift for which we are waiting.  Zannie and I both strongly feel that our house was exactly the one He wanted us to have when we moved to Alabama.  We are convinced of it!  We are equally convinced that He has a particular house in Decatur for us as well.  We've been praying that He will place us in a house where we can be actively involved in ministry to our neighbors particularly in the area of evangelism.

Just as convinced of His placing us on Blackburn Road are we that He has a very specific house for us in Decatur.  It may still be owned by someone who, right now, has no thoughts of selling it.  It may be in foreclosure.  It may not even be built yet.  It may have been on the market for a long time or just recently become available.  Only He knows but we are on His schedule and in His perfect time we'll know.  We are expecting to literally know which house it is when we see it. I told Zannie this morning that I feel like a kid who sees the gift under the tree; I know it's there but I just have no clue what is on the other side of the pretty paper.  Anticipation is high and gets higher every day but I will just have to wait. I can't cheat by slipping off the paper and rewrapping this gift (not that I would have ever thought of doing anything like that at any stage in my life).  I can't even shake this surprise.  I just have to trust that my Father will choose the perfect gift for us and we will be shown later.  The excitement is building!

I am thankful that we have Him as our real estate agent to sell our current house and we don't even have to pick out our next house.  He will pick it out for us.  We sure do have a great Father!  All good gifts and all perfect gifts, after all, do come from Him.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Ensley Kate

It's been a delight to have Grace and little Ensley in Alabama for a few days.  It's given me time to reflect a bit.  This afternoon as I held Ensley, I was taken back to earlier years.  Seeing her little legs almost involuntarily flail as she enjoyed a clean daper, I was given to the thought of how we often flail about in life.  I could see the generalities of her future-she will soon be sitting up, then crawl, walk, talk, and hug.  She will begin to make choices-some good and some bad. She will have to be disciplined and at times even punished.  The love of her parents and grandparents, as well aunts and uncles, will be no less, however.

Yesterday, as I held her innocent little body, I prayed that God would draw Ensley to Himself at an early age.  As much joy as there is in seeing your child win awards, excell in athletics and academics, as joyous the occassion is when they are married or even bear their own children, there is no greater joy than knowing they are born again. 

I have prayed the same prayer for our two other granddaughters and we continue to repeat that prayer. The same God and Creator who made heavens and earth, who has redeemed countless millions can do the same for Ensley.  I am grateful for His power, His willingness, and His desire to do so.

She, like all of us, can continue to flail about in life or she will have to opportunity to discover the plan He has for her.  Just like I pray for Ensley's salvation, I pray for her discovering and carrying out the plan God has custom designed for her.  Salvation secured in heaven and obedience in following Him on earth.  Both very good ideas!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Stick With the Basics

I was fed, taught, have studied, and have learned the most basic of Sunday School principles the whole time I have been involved in Christian education. Never have I had the desire to get "fancy, shmancy" with this very critical and effective ministry. For that I am grateful.

In recent days, many of those basic ideas learned have come to light in practicality. After a recent leadership meeting where there was a lot of discussion about "open" enrollment or spinning off the old Andy Anderson "Growth Spiral" statement of enrolling anyone anywhere anytime, my pastor asked me to teach enrollment principles to the whole church last night and next Wednesday. I had a great time and I trust the congregation did as well.

I was excited to enroll a young lady for Sunday School this Tuesday night while making visits then this morning our awesome Latino pastor came to my office with "buenas noticias" (good news). He said that after teaching open enrollment to his congregation they have enrolled two families this week. One of the moms said that we were an answer to her prayers. They had no idea as to where to go to church but knew that we were sent by God. Amen to that!

I've had the opportunity to see God Almighty work in such amazing ways, not only in our lives, but in the lives of others recently. I should not be surprised...just reminded! I will continue to stick with the basics.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Seek His Face

In recent days, there have been numerous occassions when I needed to know what choice to make in situations that would effect others as well as myself.  I know that my wisdom is limited, to say the least, and I also know that eventhough my choice matters, I don't know the "unseens".  However, I know that God knows and there are no unseens for Him.

I had to just say, "Lord, this is what I think but I don't want to choose X if You want Y or A or B or something else of which I don't even know.  Please make it very clear as to what I should do."  It should be no suprise that He did.  As a result of seeing Him work in my life, I have begun a daily prayer of  something like, "Lord, there will be things crossing my path today that I, in myself, am not equipped to make a decision on.  Please give me wisdom to deal with what comes my way today.  I am not asking for tomorrow yet, just today."

Earlier this week when I was solicited for advise, I made a couple of suggestions but said, "Ultimately God knows all the details and you just need to get on your face before Him and see what it is He wants."  They did and He did make it clear.

Now here is the problem with all that; why is it that I sit here and write of a principle that all Christians know but so few, including me, seldom practice?  We know the power of prayer. We know the omniscience of God. We have been taught since an early age to seek Him first.  We have head knowledge of the right things to do but flesh, self-will, lack of faith, and who knows what else gets in the way of the implementation.

But the good side is that I am growing.  I am moving closer to Him. And I am daily experiencing how much He can be trusted.