Sunday, August 31, 2008

Grandchildren and Heroes

Benjamin, our newest grandson is very wise in choosing his heroes.

Peace in the Midst of a Storm

Rhonda and I went to the beach this afternoon to see the waves churned up by hurricane Gustav. I took this picture. I am reminded that the storms of this world can seem so powerful and furious. Yet, for the Believer, we can have great peace in the midst of the storm. Jesus, our Prince of Peace said, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid" (John 14:27).

Billy Graham wrote,

The storm was raging. The sea was beating against the rocks in huge, dashing waves. The lightning was flashing, the thunder was roaring, the wind was blowing; but the little bird was sound asleep in the crevice of the rock, its head tucked serenely under its wing. That is peace: to be able to sleep in the storm! In Christ we are relaxed and at peace in the midst of the confusions, bewilderments, and perplexities of this life. The storm rages, but our hearts are at rest. We have found peace-at last!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Sunday School Reaches Your Target Group

Sunday School is the most undervalued resource in most churches today. It has been quietly ministering to all age groups for more than 200 years. While church growth strategists and pastors tinker with new models and programs for reaching the latest demographic target, Sunday School is right there, usually with a class already serving the target group. - Elmer Towns and Stan Toler, What Every Pastor Should Know About Sunday School

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Defense of Marriage Act Being Challenged Today

The Defense of Marriage Act is being challenged in federal court today. Attorneys with Liberty Counsel will be in federal court in California for what could be one of the most important marriage cases we have yet seen. This case involves the federal Defense of Marriage Act, and therefore the outcome could impact Americans from coast-to-coast.

To lose this battle could mean that every state must recognize and give equal benefits and rights to homosexual marriages peformed and legally recognized in other states, as that of marriages between a man and a woman.

Pray for the Liberty Counsel attorneys today.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Sunday School Leaders

Last night we had our Sunday School Leaders Training night. I was well pleased with the turnout and the response. Serving at First Baptist are some of the greatestest Sunday School leaders in our state. Below is a page out of the Sunday School Leaders guide that we distributed to our adult Sunday School teachers. I believe this description of a good Sunday School leader is for all churches.

What Should a Sunday School Leader Be Like?

A Growing Christian
A good leader knows Jesus as his/her personal Lord and Savior and grows through daily Bible reading and prayer. A good leader is understands he/she is on a spiritual growth journey that does not end until he/she has reached heaven.

A Church Member
A good leader supports the entire church ministry through regular attendance and participation. A leader is a faithful steward of time, talents, and treasure.

One Who Loves People
A good leader enjoys being around people. He/she wants to know what is happening in the lives of those he/she leads. “Christ demands that the driving force in your life must be love. All other things, although important, are secondary. Love is the sign of true discipleship” Solly Ozrovech.

One Who is Called
A good leader senses that he/she is leading in Sunday School because he/she is answering God’s call to do so.

Willing to Plan
A good leader is willing to study and prepare to make Sunday School a positive Bible learning experience.

Willing to Contact Members
A good leader is willing to write, call, and/or visit the members in his/her class. A leader cares about members both inside and outside of the church building.

Dependable and Diligent
A good leader is dependable and diligent. These traits are essential for a person who is to be a leader. A dependable, diligent person communicates to members and other leaders that he can be counted on to be in his place, to have planned, and to have fulfilled his duties as a leader.

A Lifelong Learner
A good leader should possess the desire to continue to learn through books, conferences, videos, and other forms of training. “He who dares to teach must never cease to learn.”

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Go for the Gold

For the past five days I have really enjoyed watching the 29th Olympiad from Beijing. The opening ceremony was nothing less than spectacular. The number of world records that have been broken in the swimming competition alone has been amazing. I have most enjoyed the gymnastics. Wether your favorite sport is swimming, diving, gymnastics, track and field, or something else there is one constant that is found in them all. We are watching young men and women who have trained very hard to get to where they are and every one of them are going for gold.

The book of First Corinthians is written in the context of the Isthmian Games. In I Corinthians 9:24-27 Paul encourages us to run to win. He goes on to say that participants in the races must, in all things, exercise self-control. And they do it to win a crown that is perishable. However, the believer is running for a crown that is imperishable. Therefore, Paul says he will do whatever it takes so that he "will not be disqualified for the prize" (1 Cor 9:27). Paul says he will stay focused and will discipline himself so to win the race. We must likewise understand the Christian race is not for the weak. Our goal is not to drift through life in ease but to accomplish the task for which we have been called.

As you continue to watch the 29th Olympic Games over the next couple of weeks, keep in mind all of the training, self-discipline, and hard work that has been put in by these athletes over the past many years. Then ask Jesus to give you self-discipline as you run for Him. Olympic athletes not only compete against one another, but they also compete before judges. One day we shall all appear before the judgment seat of Christ. Crowns will be given. Therefore, run to win! Run for the gold!

Just a thought!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Apostle John

I have been preaching a series on the letters to the seven churches in Revelation. I thought you might find this background information on John interesting.

John was the son of Zebedee (a fisherman of Galilee) and his mother's name was Salome, who is believed to be the sister of Mary, Jesus' mother. John, along with his brother, James and the apostle Peter and his brother Andrew, were all partners in a fishing business prior to their call by Jesus to follow Him.
John became the pastor of the church in Ephesus. It is also believed that John founded the churches of Smyrna, Pergamos, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea, and Thyatira. He at least had a special relationship with them.

Whereas John's brother, James, was the first of the apostles to die, John was the last. All of the apostles met a violent martyrs death except John who died peacefully in Ephesus at a ripe old age. Church tradition says that while John was living in Ephesus, he had with him Mary, the mother of Jesus.

While in Ephesus, by order of the Roman emperor Domitian, John was carried to Rome, where he was cast into a cauldron of boiling oil. He escaped by miracle, without injury. Domitian afterwards banished him to the prison island of Patmos, where he wrote the Book of Revelation. Nerva, the successor of Domitian, recalled him. He was able to live the rest of his life and complete his ministry in Ephesus.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

NFL Hall Famer's Security is in Christ

My son (Justin Nale) posted this story on his blog. If you are a NFL football fan, such as I am, you will be very interested in this story. Read the exerpt below then read the full story on Justin's blog. Click the picture to go to his blog.

Art Monk, now Hall of Fame wide receiver who played predominantly with the Washington Redskins, said this in his induction speech last week:

"Even now as a Hall of Famer, the one thing I want to make very clear is that my identity and my security is found in the Lord. And what defines me and my validation comes in having accepted his son Jesus Christ as my personal savior. And what defines me is the Word of God, and it’s the Word of God that will continue to shape and mold me into the person that I know he’s called me to be.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Sunday School for Today

The Sunday School has been under attack for a number of years by those who believe it is no longer an effective tool for reaching people for Christ and assimilating them into the life and ministry of the church. In his book, High Expectations, Thom Rainer writes, “Many church leaders have helped perpetuate the myth for twenty or so years. The myth is that Sunday School is no longer effective evangelistically or as an assimilation tool.” Study after study shows that indeed this is just a myth. Many churches in America are continuing to see people come to Christ through their Sunday School and these same churches are experiencing growth primarily through their Sunday School ministry.

Dr. Lawrence Phipps of Vaughn Forest Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama has seen significant church growth in his church. What does he claim to be the two keys to the growth of his church? Prayer and Sunday School. Phipps writes, “The largest vehicle most churches have for fulfilling the Great Commission is the Sunday School. The Sunday School . . . still remains the best chance a plateaued church has to reach people, teach application, minister and make disciples. The Sunday School remains the strongest tool to keep a growing church on the move.”[1].

In my study of Sunday Schools for my D.Min dissertation, The Sunday School as a Viable Tool for Church Growth in the 21st Century, I found that those churches that were seeing significant and sustained growth were placing a high priority on the Sunday School as the primary tool for evangelism and assimilation. Thom Rainer, President of LifeWay Christian Resources, also found this to be true. In his study of 300 churches he concluded that, "No methodology was deemed more effective than the Sunday School in retaining members."[2]

The church in America is in a state of decline. I believe one of the reasons is because most churches, in their attempt to try new fads for reaching and retaining people, have relegated their Sunday Schools to a low priority. The reason why Sunday School is not working in these churches is because these churches have stopped working Sunday School. Let's get back to work.

Just a thought.

[1] Lawrence Phipps and Daniel E. Edmonds, Growing Sunday School Teams (Montgomery, AL: For Life Ministries, 2002), iii.

[2] Thom Rainer, High Expectations (Nashville: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1999), 32.

Monday, August 4, 2008

29 Years of Marriage

Today marks my and Rhonda's 29th wedding anniversary. It's hard to believe that 29 years can go by so fast. The saying is true, "Time flies when you're having fun." We have had an amazing 29 years together. God has brought us through great times of joy, sorrow, happiness, trials, good times and not so good times. But there is no person I would rather go through these times with than my dear wife of 29 years. Rhonda is not only my wife, she is my very best friend. I can't imagine life without her. I thank God for my wife. I am looking forward to another amazing 29 years together. Because it is Rhonda who makes our marriage what it is, I am expecting the next 29 years to be even more fun than the first 29 years.
Rhonda, I love you and thanks for a great 29 years.