In Praise of the Praiseworthy

Oh, what a night!

There we were, two and half seasons into our Downton Abbey binge watching marathon. Paige and I were seated in the living room after Midnight on a snow day, anticipating another snow day, when the phone rang. As a pastor, and the son of a widowed mother, a phone call at 12:45 a.m. is never going to be a good thing. It was mom. Her trembling voice barely able to squeak out the words, “Someone just tried to break into the house!” The next voice I heard was that of an officer with the Kingsport Police Department. Mom was so shaken she just handed over the phone to the officer. He explained two juvenile delinquents had been apprehended in the back yard of my old home place and that the situation was under control.KPD-logo-patch

In my truck on the way to my mother’s house, a wave of emotion came over me. I was angered that someone, anyone would frighten my mother so badly that she could not form words to speak. I was distraught at the thought my mother was, indeed, vulnerable to the whims of some punks with nothing better to do than to destroy private property and steal things. It was not a great state of mind to be in as I tried to navigate the frozen, snow-covered streets of Kingsport.

Upon arrival, I saw that three of the five police cruisers that initially responded to the distress call, had already left. An old friend and member of the force greeted me and apprised me of the situation. I could not see the two 14-year-old boys in the back of the car, but I could not help but wonder if they were kids that my church had reached out to through our ministry to the community where they resided. I’m not sure I need or truly want to know either.

Sometime around 12:30 a.m., my mother was awakened by voices and the sounds of footsteps on the other side of her bedroom wall. She got out of bed, grabbed her phone and went to the window and turned on the outside lights. Keep in mind, there’s five inches of snow on the ground and the light of the moon and stars reflecting off the pristine powder was more than enough to allow one to see everything in the backyard… especially footprints in the fresh, untouched snow. Seeing the outside lights come on, our two Einstein’s froze and looked at each other. Decision time: 1) Turn and run for it OR 2) Dismiss it as some sort of motion light and continue on with the nefarious plan. They chose the latter.

When mom saw them turning back for the house, she reported this to the 9-1-1 dispatcher already on the phone. Units were already on the way. The dispatcher advised mom to go to the opposite end of the house from where the boys were headed. As she moved out of her bedroom and down the hallway –  CRASH! –  the 4 foot X 6 foot picture window next to my mother’s bath tub exploded sending plate glass in every direction. The noise was so loud the dispatcher heard it over the phone. My mother ran to a half-bath off the kitchen and attempted to lock herself inside. Can you see it… my 80+… er um… seasoned senior mother cowering in a dark bathroom with who knows what getting ready to come in her house, clinging to the hope in the voice on the other end of a phone call? I see it too and it infuriates me, but I digress.

About that time, before the boys could make entry, the police arrived on the scene. Utilizing the aforementioned weather conditions to their advantage, the officers apprehended the suspects in the backyard. They found the softball size river rock they chucked through the window which, we discovered this morning, was thrown with such force as to break through a plate glass window AND create a gaping hole in the drywall on the opposite wall six feet away. The officers told us there had been three other home invasion-style break ins in my mother’s neighborhood over the previous few days. Perhaps these kids were responsible, perhaps not. All I know is in the final analysis, there needed to be praise offered forth.

First, I praise my Lord Jesus for keeping my mother safe and unharmed through it all. Secondly, I praise the calm, professionalism of the 9-1-1 dispatcher who talked my mother through the turmoil. Finally, I praise the the officers of the KPD who were willing and able to do what was necessary to serve and protect my mother and our community. In the current climate in which we live, too many voices are taking too many political stances and pointing their accusatory fingers at too broad a swath of police officers. Are there some attitudes that need changing? Of course. But we need not besmirch the good names of the 99% who do it right just because of a few bad ones.

Fifteen hours, one tarp and a sheet of plywood later, I am happy that I can still call Kingsport home. However, much like everywhere else in this world, our hometown is not the place it used to be. We must remain vigilant. We must stick together. We must love our neighbors as we love ourselves. If you see something, say something.

I saw some things that were praiseworthy and I had to say something.

I Love Creative People!

Last night at our Glenwood Campus, our children led our worship service. The PAWs Pack (that’s short for praise and worship) allowed the kids opportunities to do a variety of things:

  • Five kids performed piano solos
  • Scripture was read
  • The children’s choir sang
  • There was drama… the right kind!
  • We had interpretive movement (don’t say dance!)
  • Puppets
  • Displays of artwork

It was wonderful! The kids were able to learn and perform things that could be reproduced in other settings for evangelistic and worship purposes. Thanks to Anne Marie Pierce, Donna Sanders, Michelle Brashears, Kathy Suiter, Lyndy Davison, Michele Cox, Becky Bridges, Kelly Cheshier, Jonathan Pierce, Joel Sanders, Julie George, Paige Brooks and others who played large and small roles investing into our children.

God is the Creator! He originated creativity. He imparts the gift of creativity to us. Our responsibility is to respond appropriately to his gift.

I want to highlight another creative effort. Our own, Pam Goforth, is one of the most creatively talented people! She is our “go to” for many things that require a special touch. Pam has been a huge help with our partnership with Jefferson Elementary. She has provided really unique snacks for our tutoring program kids. Here are pics from her latest effort, teacher appreciation snacks:

 

Photo May 05, 3 26 20 PM

It says, “We need s’more teachers like you!”

Photo May 05, 3 26 33 PM

Flip side has complete instructions on how to enjoy the s’more.

Photo May 05, 3 26 52 PM

Inside, she included info on our church.

 

These will be delivered to Jefferson tomorrow and placed into each teacher’s box as a way of 1) saying “Thank You!” for a job well done and 2) It’s time to celebrate as TCAPs are OVER!

This is awesome! I love creative people! Thank you, Pam, for using your talents for His glory.

If you are a creative person, I know a place where you can put it into practice. The church ought to be the most creative institution on the face of the earth!

How do you think the church might be able to make greater strides in creativity?

Pardon Me While I Praise The Lord!

LogoMany might read what I am about to write and walk away thinking it is self-serving, prideful, boastful or any number of other things. If you feel that is the case, I would say that you don’t know me very well and, furthermore, it might be best if you stop reading now and go back to whatever you were doing.

Church is more than numbers. A whole lot more. However, like it or not, numbers can serve as a measurement of the spiritual health of a church in several ways.  When Indian Springs Baptist merged with Glenwood Baptist in June of 2011, Glenwood had a regular attendance of about 45 people. That number dropped into the 30’s as the people who were allergic to change left to go find that magical place where nothing ever changes. There were no children or youth…PERIOD. Honestly, there was no one under the age of 50 in sight with most of our folks being well north of retirement age.  Before I go on, I want to express my deep appreciation and gratitude for our wonderful, original Glenwood members (now ISBC members) who have stayed the course, rolled up their sleeves and jumped into the fray with the rest of us. We have some great, Godly people!

As we set out to launch the Glenwood Campus of ISBC, there were a handful of families who caught the vision and wanted to be a part of something special– an awesome mission field opportunity. When you added all the kids in the families that felt that call along with mine, we had  about 18 children. That was 22 months ago. Since we began, God has been faithful to add key components to our numbers along the way. He has also helped us begin to multiply. Here are just a few markers that I can only attribute to the providential hand of God:

  • Palm Sunday, we had 98 children and workers over the course of our 3 hours of services in the morning.
  • Our Wednesday night children’s activity – TeamKID – has hit 66 (plus 6 workers)
  • We had 212 folks in two worship services on Palm Sunday, 298 on Easter and we are averaging around 200 on normal Sundays
  • We had a high of 133 in Sunday School yesterday
  • We have baptized 34 people in those 22 months
  • We have launched a community partnership with Jefferson Elementary school and will begin tutoring students this week
  • We have launched a Food Pantry to provide needed food to many in our community
  • We continue a radio broadcast called “Good News from Glenwood” every Sunday morning at 9 a.m. on WKPT Radio heard on FM 94.3 in the Kingsport, Tennessee area, FM 97.7 in Johnson City, Tennessee and FM 97.9 in the Bristol, Tennessee & Virginia area, as well as, AM 1400, 1490, and 1590.
  • We stream every service LIVE online and have all our services archived so they can be watched 24 hours a day 7 days a week. (www.isbc.tv)

None of this would be possible without God being at work in our midst. Secondly, this would not be possible apart from the fact that Indian Springs Baptist operates as one church in two locations. The leadership and financial stability that our Hill Road campus provides is of utmost importance.  Very few new church starts or church plants could have afforded to invest $500,000 into infrastructure upgrades and renovations! There are many benefits to the church model that we are developing. I am grateful for a senior pastor, Dr. Roc Collins, who continues to seek God’s will and cast a vision for our church, as well as, a deep support staff with whom we work hand in glove to cultivate eternal relationships.

God has plenty more in store for us! If you are looking for a church home where the Gospel is strongly preached and people are lovingly reached, please visit either campus of Indian Springs Baptist Church.

 

The “Plague” of Cicadas 2012

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If you live in or have traveled through East Tennessee in recent days you probably have heard a strange sound.  If you ask my wife, Paige, she would probably say something like Hell left a window open. But according to experts quoted in our local paper, we are being visited by the 17-year, Brood I cicada.

This means that in 1995 mama cicadas laid their eggs in the outer branches of trees, the babies hatched out, fell to the ground and burrowed in waiting 17 years to mature and emerge to celebrate my 17th wedding anniversary.

Our house feels like ground zero. As I was mowing the yard the other day I saw what seemed like thousands of holes out of which these ugly, red-eyed demons emerged. They seemingly coat the entire backside of my house and deck as they are affixed to any available inch of real estate waiting on their wings to gain the strength to fly off. The experts say that the males are the first to emerge and the buzzing sound they produce is calling for females. All I can say is, “Hurry, honey!”

Paige is about to lose her mind. I am fully prepared to come home one day to find one of two things happening. I could find her lying in the fetal position in the middle of the floor acting out a scene from Apocalypse Now mumbling, “The horror! The horror!” On the other hand, it would not surprise me for her to go all Tony Montana and find her in the yard with a napalm flamethrower screaming, “Say ‘Hello’ to my little friend!” and reducing our entire ridge to an ash heap.

The cicadas aren’t doing damage and it’s not so much about their brown shells that litter our entire house. IT’S THE INCESSANT BUZZING CACOPHONY that is driving us crazy. Well, I find it unpleasant, while Paige is going bananas. You see, I have been blessed with that man gene that allows me to ignore just about anything I do not want to deal with. I notice it only when I am in certain parts of the house and I make an effort to listen to them. Paige comes through the living room periodically, looks at me in bewilderment and informs me about the changing dynamics and which cicada section is buzzing a little flat. She texted me the other day and stated that she was driving down the road at 45 MPH, with the A/C cranked and the radio blaring and STILL heard the cicadas in the woods she was passing.

So, is it just us or do you and your spouse also experience a disparity in reaction to certain things?