One of the worst parts of turning the calendar page from one year to the next is that we are inundated with messages intended to convince us that something is radically wrong with us and we need to commit ourselves full-bore in the New Year to make the necessary changes. You know what I’m talking about. These sorts of ads are relentless, promising to help us lose weight or exercise more or drop a bad habit – and all for a bargain price. While these ads always seem to get our attention (and strike a guilt chord or two in the process), we never seem to be able to follow through in seeing the changes materialize. To quote Jesus, “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”
By this time in the season, my guess is that you’ve pretty much finished up with everyone on your Christmas list. If you haven’t, let me remind you that the time is running out. You’ve only got a couple of days left, and you’d better get on the ball this afternoon or tomorrow.
Each of us has his or her favorite Christmas carol, and to paraphrase Luke’s birth narrative, we are “sorely disappointed” when it doesn’t get sung during the season. Of course, some we enjoy more than others, but the carol that most likely rates a place on everyone’s list is the old standard, “Silent Night, Holy Night,” which we sing at MBBC every Christmas Eve.
Some news simply was never meant to be kept close to the vest, like the news of Christmas. From the very beginning, the very core of the Christmas message was an angelic announcement that a Savior was to be born “to all people.” No one is to be left out of the Christmas celebration. Everyone is invited to join in on the “glad tidings of great joy.”
Music tends to take center stage in this season of the year more than any other, and rightfully so. Some messages are simply best conveyed in song. Spoken words are hardly sufficient in conveying the good news of Christmas. Perhaps that’s why on the night of Jesus’ birth when the Word became flesh, the message was conveyed in angelic song.
Sunday begins the season of Advent, which is a time of preparation intended to make sure that our souls are set to receive the Christ Child as Christmas draws near. Each of the Sundays in Advent will focus on one of the “gifts” of Christmas: hope, peace, joy, and love.
I doubt I’m the only pastor who’s ever been accused of being a “parrot head,” but I don’t know of many other pastors who have a deeper appreciation for the music of the legendary American country, folk, and rock fusion icon Jimmy Buffet than I. Part of it is because so many of his “island tunes” capture my love of the coastal lifestyle. But part of it is also because so many of the lyrics to his songs speak to our need as humans to learn how to accept both the happy and sad aspects of life as best we can.
Harry Coover is a name you probably have never heard, but his invention of Super Glue has most likely come to your rescue a time or three over the course of your life. As the story goes, Coover, an engineer at Eastman Kodak, came to this invention quite by accident. While working on a project to make clear plastic gun sights for Allied soldiers during WWII, one of the products his team devised was a bust as far as gun sights go, but turned out to be a truly remarkable quick bonding adhesive. Put on the market in 1958, the product was launched publically and the rest is history. The story makes you wonder how many things in life have come to us by accident.
I have always loved leftovers. While many rue the seemingly endless servings of turkey and dressing that post-Thanksgiving meals inevitably bring, I actually look forward to them. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems as if the flavors seep into the turkey and dressing even more and their tastiness somehow is intensified.
My first years in school were in a private, Christian school. My mother thought I was big for my age and with my December birthday enrolled me in first grade at five years of age, which the public school would not allow. She obviously wasn’t factoring in athletics at the time, which fortunately didn’t turn out to be a big deal when the family moved to small town Alabama. But one of the benefits of the Christian school was their emphasis on Scripture memorization and how it gave me a love for learning signal Bible passages “by heart.”
One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving worship is the opportunity the season affords us to sing songs we don’t sing any other time of the year. Not that we shouldn’t give consideration to saying our thanks through song throughout the year, it’s just that certain hymns seem to sound better when we sing them closer to the Thanksgiving holiday.
If you look on your calendars, you’ll see that Thanksgiving Day doesn’t happen for another couple of weeks. But sandwiched in between the holidays of Halloween and Thanksgiving is another holiday that should elicit our gratitude but too often falls through the cracks because of the busyness of the season. I’m referring, of course, to Veterans Day, which this year falls on Sunday.
For what seems to be the last twelve months we’ve been hearing about the upcoming mid-term elections. In fact, I don’t know when I remember hearing as much talk about an “off year” election cycle as I have heard about this one. In these last weeks both parties have been ramping up their efforts at attracting their bases to the polls. Having previously served in a political community for a long period of time, I understand how much is at stake both for the party in power as well as the party that wants so desperately to be in power.
This past week the ministerial staff and I attended an Enneagram workshop, which addressed the variety of personality types that exist among us humans and how one’s individual type influences every aspect of his or her life. For those of you not familiar with the Enneagram, it is basically a model of how nine personality types (“ennea” is nine in Greek) relate to one another to represent human behavior in its most natural expressions, along with what our behavior looks like when we’re healthy or what it looks like when we’re distressed.
One of the new realities in missions is the need for strong partnerships. This approach to the Great Commission has always been a hallmark of Baptists, but never more so than in recent years. And of course the logic is simple: We can do so much more together than we can do apart. Even for churches that have a strong missional heritage like ours this principle still holds true.
Cooks On A Mission: Ministry Updates, October Sale, Thanksgiving Cake Orders, & Pop-Up Shop Information
Some time ago, on an episode of the History Channel’s reality show about a Las Vegas pawn shop, a man brought in a violin and asked for an appraisal. The man claimed that he had recently purchased a piece of property that included a house and a barn, and shortly after his purchase, he came across an old chest, which when he opened, revealed the violin safely tucked inside. As the man dusted off the near-perfect instrument, he found the name “Stradivarius” inscribed on the violin. As most of you know, a Stradivarius violin in any condition is worth a great deal of money. So, the man had his fingers crossed that this violin would be his lottery ticket to Easy Street.
“Loving God and Living with Grace and Generosity” has been a hallmark of MBBC for several years now. I can’t think of a better statement of mission around which our congregation might focus our service. The twofold statement captures perfectly both the internal and external and the vertical and horizontal dimensions of our faith experience.
I don’t know of another passage of Scripture that is more well-known or more beloved than this passage I just read for you. It’s one of the first verses of Scripture that most folk learn “by heart” because it conveys the core message of the Gospel and the means by which we secure eternal life.
A true disciple is a lifelong learner. That’s because there’s always something new to know about following Jesus or some spiritual discipline that we can become more proficient in pursuing. At no point does our need to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus become more evident than in the matter of giving.
This week in our pastoral staff meeting we were looking at the upcoming MBBC calendar when someone mentioned that Monday was “Indigenous Peoples’ Day.” Clearly, political correctness has even seeped down now to our Apple calendars so that we can’t even enjoy a good long weekend without being reminded of our inherited guilt as occupiers of a land that our ancestors discovered and then took over.
Most of the stories Jesus told lend themselves to easy application, do they not? Consider, for example, the story of the Prodigal Son or the story of the Good Samaritan. Everybody resonates with those two stories because everybody understands them and can relate to them. After all, who among us hasn’t felt the tug toward the far country and felt the need to come home once we had come to our senses? Or, who among us hasn’t wrestled with the responsibility of going out of our way to help another in need, especially when we at one point were on the receiving end of such aid? In almost every story Jesus tells, there is at least one character we can see ourselves in, or one character we can imagine ourselves working to become.
Technology is something most of us are constantly chasing to stay up with. Whether it be the latest entertainment gadget or some new means of communication, about the time we become proficient with it, a new generation emerges and we have to start all over again. But of course, we do so, regardless of the effort required. Not to give it our best only puts us behind the curve even more.
For the longest time I did not appreciate responsive readings in worship. hey seemed too rote and emotionless, especially when the congregation read them in a boring monotone. But over the years, I’ve come to focus instead on the power of the words regardless of how they are read and how that power is magnified when spoken by a multitude of souls.
I have learned over the course of my life that we humans are products of family systems that influence us for better or worse. Our patterns of behavior are formed over a period of time out of interactions that span the entirety of our lives (and also the lives of our ancestors!). Such influence is true not only for my relationship with my biological family; it’s also true for my church family. Consequently, hearing stories and understanding the underlying patterns of the church to which I belong helps me to know how better to respond to both challenges and opportunities we face in congregational life. It also helps me to understand why we tend to react to such challenges and opportunities in ways that are often unconscious and unintentional.
Many of you will remember back in the 80’s a most successful advertising campaign by the National Enquirer magazine, which had as its tagline, “Enquiring Minds Want to Know.” What made that campaign so successful was the way it allowed that gossip rag of a publication to attain at least a modest level of respectability in popular American culture by granting people permission to read it because of how doing so would only be engaging in something that on the surface could never be considered entirely bad. After all, who among us doesn’t harbor some measure of curiosity about what’s going on around us in life? Who among us doesn’t want to be “in the know” about important happenings? Who among us doesn’t want to be perceived as possessing an “enquiring mind?”
Over the last months, we have seen numerous strategic objectives from our recent Vision 2020 ministry plan come to fruition. As the old saying goes, “It’s always great when a plan comes together,” and I have to say that I am most pleased over the efforts of so many in our church, both staff and laity, who have dedicated themselves to making our vision become a reality.
For the longest time I always thought that I had the best job anyone could ever ask for. As a pastor, I get to be a teacher, a salesperson, a counselor, and a business executive, all while sitting in the same chair. This kaleidoscope of opportunities is why I’ve always described my calling as “the most wonderful work in the world.”
Under the category of “the only real constant in life is change,” I was taken by the news this week of the Nabisco Company’s recent decision to change its traditional red and yellow Animal Crackers package to reflect a more animal-friendly image. If you’ll remember, the traditional package features four cages in which a lion, bear, gorilla, and elephant are confined. Now, when you go to pick up a package of Animal Crackers, you’ll find those same four animals, along with a zebra, in a free-range area that respects their right to roam as God created them to do.
Life is filled with decisions, most of which are not easy. Everyday life is inherently complicated so that we face very few choices that fall under the “no brainer” category. It matters not whether the judgment we must make is personal or corporate, secular or sacred, each comes our way with complications and consequences we often find daunting.
I know people have always been prone to disagree with one another, but it seems like in recent years our disagreements have become more serious than ever before. Once upon a time you might come across two parties who didn’t see eye to eye on a certain thing and yet those parties could still coexist at work or in the home or even in a church. Nowadays, coexistence has become a lost art. As soon as the first hint of disagreement arises people retreat to their corners and look upon the other as the enemy.
If there’s anything that comes naturally to us as human beings it is the fine art of manufacturing a good excuse. The truth of the matter is that coming up with a good excuse is as natural as breathing air. That’s because each of us has a will, and when circumstances converge that frustrate our hearts’ desire, we immediately churn out a good excuse not to do whatever it is that we really aren’t passionate about doing.
Everyone is aware of his or her limitations. Part of the maturation process involves facing the painful truth that we are not capable of doing everything our heart desires. Coming to terms with such a discovery means learning not to put ourselves in places or situations where our weaknesses get exposed.
Some weeks ago, I mentioned an invitation our church received from our partners at the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary in Beirut, Lebanon. Their president, Elie Haddad, extended to us an opportunity to come to the campus to observe how our missions dollars translate into seminary education for churches in the Middle East, as well as for a vibrant ministry to Syrian refugees that have flooded into their country. Our Missions Committee has continued to explore the possibilities of such a trip and we have now identified a “window” of March 5-15 of 2019 for such a visit.
We’re enjoying a week down at Navarre Beach with our family. Our daughter lives here, where she’s a high school English teacher, and our son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren have come over from Tallahassee, where he is preparing for his new position as a general surgeon at Capital Regional Medical Center.
One of the earliest lessons most of us learned was to be careful about the company we kept. At the time, that lesson may have not have hit home as well as it should have, but along life’s way it became more and more apparent that because we get so many of our cues in life from others, we’re always wise to make sure we have people in our lives who can show us right from wrong.
Most of us tend to be impressed with the spectacular. Whether it’s an entertainment event or a special sale or an extraordinary accomplishment, we associate its value with how much it exceeds normal expectations. Hence the saying: “Bigger is better.”
As we all know, names are more than ways to identify one another. Names either express our gratitude for special people to us or point to the hopes and dreams we have for those under our care. It’s always been the case from the beginning that our names say as much about us and our background as anything we might say or do.
I have always heard people say that the best way to run a church is to run it like a business. Let me be clear when I say that managing a church like a business is the absolute worst way to see to ministry tasks. While there are parallels between the principles that make for efficient ministry practices and those of business enterprises, the dynamics of ministry are vastly different. For example, churches are primarily in business to make disciples, not a profit.
One of the challenges of doing church today is finding the right ministerial leadership to help the church meet its ministry objectives. While that’s been a persistent challenge for churches, the dwindling supply of young people aspiring to ministry today makes identifying the best candidate for a ministry opening much more daunting than it even used to be. But if a group patiently persists in their openness to the Holy Spirit’s leading, God always comes through.
This past week has seen no shortage of commentary regarding the remarks of Attorney General Jeff Sessions to an audience in Fort Wayne, Indiana, comprised largely of law enforcement officers. What landed Attorney General Sessions in hot water was his application of a passage in Romans 13, regarding submission to the governing authorities, to the current controversy over the administration’s immigration policy.
Some years ago, around the time I was born, the movie “Bridge on the River Kwai” garnered the Academy Award for Best Picture. I remember seeing in on television late one night during my college years. Those of you who have seen it remember it as a riveting depiction of a group of British prisoners of war who have been ordered by their Japanese captors to construct a railroad bridge for the Japanese cause. The senior British officer thought that working on the bridge would be good for his men’s sagging morale; it would give them a sense of purpose. So, they built the bridge. They built it well. They built it so well that when the Allied forces began closing in on that part of enemy territory, they had to organize a special expedition to blow the bridge up. But when the senior officer sees what is happening to his bridge, he is outraged. His first thought is, “How dare they do such a thing?” But then, when he realizes the surge of angry emotion that has just come over him when the enemy’s bridge his men and he have built has been blown up, there is this moment when the officer buries his face in his hands and cries out to the heavens, “What have I done?” “What have I done?” The officer realizes that he had become so busy in succeeding in his enterprise that he had totally lost all sense of the bridge’s larger meaning and its value to the enemy. “What have I done?” “What have I done?”
All of us are familiar with the “blame game.” It is, quite frankly, a game at which all of us excel. Projecting the responsibility for our wrongdoing is an ability with which we seem to be hard-wired, simply because it comes so very easily for us. Owing up to our part in what is sideways in our lives is indeed one of life’s greatest struggles.
Growing up in a retail family, I learned early on that few things in life come previously assembled. Indeed, I spent most of my adolescent years piecing together everything from bicycles to barbecue grills. In fact, I have often wished I had a dollar for all of the contraptions I assembled during my adolescent years. Without question, I’d be a rich man today.
All of the “experts” tell us that we are now in a “post-denominational” age, a time when people don’t locate their identities in their relationships with any group outside their local church. While I would be the last to quibble as to the lack of strong connections between congregations and their denominational partners, I still contend that for most Baptists it means something when the body with whom they identify or through whom they channel substantial missions dollars does something that merits the notice of the secular media, especially when the denomination’s actions reflects unkindly on them and their local church.
Invitations are an ongoing part of life. Hardly a month goes by when we don’t receive some sort of invite to a party or a celebration or to pay someone a visit, and of course, each invitation anticipates some sort of response on our part.
I know that we all were brought up to understand the importance of sharing, but how many times have you found yourself in situations where you struggle to be satisfied with a portion of something, especially when you know that if you could enjoy that something in its entirety, the experience would be so much better? Maybe it’s a bite or two of that dessert that you limit yourself to in an effort to shed a few pounds. Maybe it’s the snippet of the song you were listening to, which you caught toward the end instead of the beginning. My favorite is what some online bookstores do. They give you the first page or two of the first chapter, which is only a tease to make you purchase the rest of the book.
You’ve heard the expression, “The more the merrier?” That saying points to how when we come across something good, more of it is even better. When we come across something good, it always seems like we never can get enough.
This Sunday is the Memorial Day weekend. It’s a time when the summer season unofficially begins and families take the opportunity to enjoy the long weekend before everyone sets off on his or her summer plans. That’s to be expected. Family times are important for creating healthy bonds of love and support.
You’ll remember that back during our Vision 2020 conversations, our church felt led to consider Missions as one of our six core priorities. As we committed “to serve others,” we set as forth as a strategic objective “to emphasize the importance of every member’s involvement in some area of ministry beyond MBBC.” In the coming weeks, we will see signs of that objective being fulfilled as we send teams from our church to Eau Claire, Wisconsin, Fort Collins, Colorado, and Cape Town, South Africa. In fact, throughout the month of June, some team from MBBC will be on mission in one of these locations. While our numbers will be down here at home, our level of enthusiasm will be high as we pray for our fellow members and the people with whom they’ll be working.
The other day I was driving home from church, listening to a sports talk show that was winding down its broadcast for the day. As the last caller was voicing his opinion (rather adamantly I should say), the bumper music started playing in the background, which was a signal to everyone, especially the caller, that time was running out, and whatever he wanted to get off his chest, he’d best get to it. Then, as the show was signing off, the music became louder and more pronounced.
As the story goes, a teacher gave her class of second graders a lesson about a magnet and what a magnet does. You probably still remember the first time you were introduced to magnets and the astonishment that came over you at their power to attract. The next day in a written test, the teacher included this question: “My full name has six letters. The first one is ‘M.’ What am I?” When the text papers were turned it, the teacher was surprised to find that almost half of the students answered the test question with the word “Mother.”
If you like Mexican food but don’t like to stand in line for a table, then make sure you avoid going to a Mexican restaurant this Saturday, which will be the fifth of May, or as it’s known in Spanish, Cinco de Mayo.
Our church is one of the most generous congregations I’ve ever known. We are blessed with members who give passionately of their time, talents, and resources to advance the cause of Christ in our community and throughout the world. As a result, our church has been able to do important work in bringing God’s Kingdom purposes to pass. But can we do more? As we consider how we have been implementing many of the new ministry dreams that have come out of the adoption of our Vision 2020 plan and are contemplating more ministry dreams, we sense that the realization of our vision will require an even stronger expression of generosity.
Some years ago, executives at one of the nation’s largest Mainstream Protestant denominations (not Baptist) put together a committee to purge their liturgy and hymnal of all militaristic language and imagery. Quite a few of the old hymns and readings got cut out, such as “Onward Christian Soldiers.” As you can imagine, the committee caught a lot of flak for their decisions. Some of it was deserved, but some of it was not deserved. After all, none of us is above engaging in the same kind of theological “downsizing” from time to time. There are terms and concepts and images that we do away with when they no longer suit our fancy or serve our purposes. I’m thinking in particular of the word “duty” and all of the images and the concepts that are associated with it.
Christian author Brenda Goodline tells of a friend who decided that her four year old son was ready to hear about Jesus. She carefully explained who Jesus is and what Jesus did for us on the cross. She also explained what it meant to follow Jesus and become his disciple. Then she asked her son, “Benji, would you like to have Jesus in your heart?” Benji rolled his blue eyes and answered seriously, “No, I don’t think I want the responsibility.”
I bought a pickup truck this week. When the week began, I had not anticipated doing so. I had borrowed my father-in-law’s truck while my SUV was being worked on; and while I had the truck, my father-in-law asked if I might try to sell it, because he assumed there would be a much better market for it in B
So much of life involves preparing ourselves for major experiences. One of the ways we do that is by involving ourselves in preliminary activities that build up to the main event. You go to the movies and you sit through the previews, which gives you time to get your popcorn and coke before the feature film begins. You go to a concert and there are “warm up” acts that prepare your ear for the mainline act that will follow. Sports enthusiasts understand terms like undercards and early rounds, which function as lead-ups to the big attraction.
What was it Shakespeare said? “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances” (As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII). The speech addresses the seven stages of life, with our entrance coming in infancy. But as we all know, life is actually marked by many entrances – entrances into adolescence and young adulthood and senior adulthood – so that every exit becomes an entrance into something else.
This next week will see many of our folk away for the Spring Break. I understand how important it is to take time off from the pressures and demands that families juggle on a regular basis, which a week at this time of the year affords. Hopefully, everyone who gets away will return to their responsibilities refreshed and renewed.
Sacrifice is a word that has attained taboo status today. No one relishes the idea of giving up anything. All around us are voices telling us that to be happy and whole we have to be adding stuff on a continual basis. Unfortunately, no matter how hard we try to fill the holes in our souls with things we find such consumption to be an exercise in futility.
This weekend a major cable news network released two new documentary series that in their own way dealt with dynasties – one political, the other religious. As a student of both secular history and church history, I found both series riveting and will continue to watch them to their conclusion. The series on religious dynasty, though spellbinding, was also somewhat painful, as it focused on the manner in which after Christians came to power in the age of Constantine, believers quickly turned on one another over matters of doctrine. In the 1800 years that have passed since the reign of Constantine that scenario has played out far too many times. We Christians were most definitely at our best when we were not in a dominant position because of how we needed one another in order to survive. Once our interdependence goes away, domination becomes the order...
Here is a GREAT write up from Mountain Brook Magazine about our Cooks On A Mission. Please read the post below and go the webpage for Mountain Brook Magazine to see and read more!
Jim Rohn was one of the pioneers of motivational speaking in the last century, the precursor to such household names today as Tony Robbins or Zig Ziglar or Wayne Dyer. Like most motivational speakers, Rohn had his share of famous quotes, but the one that will always stand out to me is his quote that goes: “If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way; if you don’t, then you’ll find an excuse.”
Every book on attaining effectiveness I’ve ever seen emphasizes the establishment of priorities. If everything is important, then nothing is. Or even worse, if everything is urgent, then we never find the time to get around to what is important. That’s why experts in the field of personal effectiveness insist on making lists that reflect what we believe to be of utmost significance.
I attended a preaching lecture this week in Atlanta while over that way participating in a meeting at the McAfee School of Theology, which is a part of Mercer University. I had the privilege of giving those particular lectures several years ago, which are named for my good friend and late colleague, Bill Self. As I listened to the lecture, I thought about how even though I’ve been preaching since I was 18, I still enjoy hearing others speak on the art of proclamation, because I always learn something that I think will make me a better preacher.
You may have seen the picture that went viral of Bubba Watson, the PGA golfer, who played in the NBA Celebrity All-Star game, held in Los Angeles last week. The picture was of Bubba donned in his celebrity basketball gear putting up a jump shot with another celebrity, Tracy McGrady, a former NBA player, swatting Bubba’s jumper out of bounds. In basketball parlance, that’s called a “rejection,” and for all of us who know the term we couldn’t help but commiserate with Bubba for the embarrassment such an experience must have caused him.
This Sunday evening we conclude our four-week evangelism study titled, “Just Walk Across the Room.” I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the turnout at each of the sessions. The response tells me that our members want to be able to name Jesus in their daily conversations; they just need some help knowing how to get the conversation started.
If there’s one incontrovertible fact to life here on Planet Earth, it’s that nothing about our existence is anything near a piece of cake. Most of us know all too well how each day’s events have a way of weighing us down with all manner of burdens and responsibilities, many of which are simply much more than we can handle.
This past Wednesday, we moved into a period of preparation for Easter. The Lenten season is a time for us not only to examine our hearts so that we might be more faithful to Jesus’ calling; it is also a time when we are called to give serious reflection to the sacrifices that are necessary for those who would follow in Jesus’ way.
One of the most common greetings actually comes most frequently in the form of a question. “What’s the good word?” Anyone who asks another such a question is doing more than starting a conversation; that person is looking for encouragement that the other might be able to share, something that will move him or her down a path that enriches one’s life.
Unless you’ve been in a cave the last several days, you know that this Sunday is “Super Bowl Sunday.” Even if you’re not a football fan, chances are that you’ll be like the vast majority of Americans, glued to the tube, or at least doing something with the game on in the background. Estimates are that around 115 million of us will be tuned in to the game, which represents almost 36% of the population – a staggering percentage when...
This week I’ve enjoyed the chance to sit down with some of my pastoral peers and participate in an annual conversation that I’ve been blessed to be a part of for over twenty years. The group is made up of Baptist pastors in congregations that are similar to one another in terms of membership, budgets, staffing, and context. Consequently, the conversation we hold involves
I have so appreciated our church’s response to the changes we have made in our Deacon Ordination service. What seems to have connected with our membership most of all are the Deacon testimonies, where each of the ordinands shares a brief word on what the church has meant to him or her. I know I am better for hearing these heartfelt expressions. They remind me of...
“Love God. Live with grace and generosity.” If I ever had any doubts that our church had bought in to our congregational mission statement, those doubts were washed away by the incredible end of the year response to our ministry aims and objectives. During the last month of December we received over 20% of our total gifts for 2017, and the last week alone saw over 11% come in as your response to my “final appeal.” Words cannot adequately express my deep appreciation for what so many of you did to help us be in a position to fulfill our ministry plans.
Moving into a new year always inspires us to think about the days ahead. Granted, leading up to January 1 we pause to reflect on the previous year: the big events, the popular movies, the hot trends. But once we break out the new calendar and see 2018 staring back at us, we lean forward into the future in anticipation of all that is...