Archive for January, 2007


Carter & Clinton Do Not Speak for Me

Since when did Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton become spokesmen for Baptists? I did not realize Baptists were facing such calamitous conditions. Let me state it most emphatically—JIMMY CARTER AND BILL CLINTON DO NOT SPEAK FOR ME!

And what is it that Mr’s. Carter and Clinton are speaking about? They are organizing a new campaign to unify Baptists, and I quote,

ATLANTA (ABP) — Advocates of the “New Baptist Covenant” championed by former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton predicted it will help heal the racial divide that has separated Baptists in America since before the Civil War.

Speaking on behalf of 40 Baptist denominations and organizations in the United States and Canada Jan. 9, Carter and Clinton — two of the world’s most famous Baptist laymen — announced the groups had committed to put aside more than a century and a half of social and theological differences to unite behind an agenda of compassionate ministry.

Somebody please get me some Tylenol!

Click here to read more:

While reading I asked myself, “Am I that far out of touch with Baptists?” When I read it a second time, I asked, “Are Carter and Clinton that far out of touch?”

The real keeper of the story comes toward the end, when some who support the movement commented:

While the Baptists who came together in Atlanta Jan. 9 were thrilled to have the support of two former presidents — both Democrats — they also recognized their movement will be limited if only moderate and progressive Baptists, and only Democrats, get on board.

Mercer’s Underwood told reporters at the Atlanta announcement that Carter and Clinton “are not here in their capacity as political leaders, they are not here in their capacity as Democrats. They are here today in their capacity as Baptists. We anticipate that there will be many other Baptists participating in this endeavor who also happen to be public officials that happen to be Republican.”

McCall agreed: “I think it’s very important so that it doesn’t come off as a political thing. It would be easy to interpret, with the two Democratic presidents, that it was a political thing. I think it’s important to find other Republican Baptists and bring them into it.”

“If this is seen as a Democratic agenda, that won’t benefit any of us,” said ABC’s Medley. “And if it doesn’t do the pan-Baptist thing, then it will have failed. I hope we do have conservative folk there, as well as progressive and moderate folk. Regardless of where we may be in political parties and things like that, these are things that we’re committed to as the body of Christ, and that agenda is larger than a political agenda.”

Please! What are they drinking? Would someone please pass the Kool-Aide?

Do not get me wrong. I am for unity. But I think unity should be based on Scriptural and doctrinal integrity, not a political, a social agenda or even the empathetic sounding “compassionate agenda of ministry”.
At this point I am reminded of the saying, “If it looks like a duck, sounds like a duck, walks like a duck and smells like a duck, chances are it is a duck.” This looks, sounds, walks, and smells like a political agenda.

When you use two lightening rods like Carter and Clinton, you automatically spark a brush fire of resistance. If you want an example, re-read what I have just written. I could never support “The New Baptist Covenant” thanks to the spokesmen who are promoting it.

Apparently I am not the only person having problems with other parts of Mr. Carter’s agenda. Click here for this tidbit of information released the same day:

I guess the next thing you know Baptists will do is ask Madonna to speak for us about sexual abstinence, Rosie O’Donnell and Donald Trump about walking in humility, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejab about world peace.

I am curious to hear your thoughts.


Fuel for your Body…& Soul

Wow, what a difference a week makes!

Last week I attempted to run 16 miles. And, as I described to you last Friday, January 5, I ran out of gas.
Today, I ran 18 miles without once running low on fuel. What was the difference? The difference was fueling my body for the run.

Last week I did not prepare sufficiently for my run. I ate a salad the night before and a biscuit the morning of the run, and I did not consume any gels or snacks along the way (other than a candy bar I purchased during the run that did more harm than good).

This week I loaded up on the carbohydrates. I ate spaghetti and a baked potato last night. This morning I started my day with a good serving of oatmeal. Additionally, I carried three packs of GU (an energizing gel loaded with potassium, protein and carbohydrates) with me. I re-fueled my body once every four miles with the GU. I also staged a Gatorade break at the half way point. The result: 18 miles in 2:57:13. That is a little over a 9:50 per mile pace. That may not sound like a fast pace for you, but for me it is the best pace I have ever kept for more than 10 miles. Additionally, it is 10 seconds per mile faster than my goal time today.

Just to illustrate how good of a run it was, I ran 18 miles instead of the planned 17. My goal was to run 17 miles. I ran an 8.5 mile loop through Homewood. Toward the end of the run I felt apprehensive about the mileage because my total time was much better than I estimated. Thus, I added some additional distance, thinking I needed the extra distance to cover 17 miles. And now for the good news; I measured my run and discovered I actually ran 18 miles and not the required 17.

Once again, I must make the same connection as I did last week. In the same way we need fuel for our bodies we also need fuel for our souls. Fuel for our bodies includes food. Fuel for our souls includes worship.

How many of you actually prepare for worship? How many of you load up before you come to CrossPoint?One week ago I did not prepare for my run, and it showed. This week I prepared for my run, and I ran more than I planned and faster than I expected.

I have said this before, and I will certainly say it again. Your private worship with the Lord influences your public worship. Or, the more you worship the Lord individually, the better equipped you are to worship Him corporately.

Just like I do the night before a long run, I use my Saturday evening to prepare for my worship on Sunday. My Saturday night “preparing for worship” routine typically includes a quiet, relaxing evening at home. I end the day by retiring to bed at a reasonable hour so I get plenty of rest. Then, I wake up very early to review my message and to prepare my heart. I spend a considerable amount of time in prayer and Bible study, followed by reading and re-reading my manuscript. I try to be thoroughly prepared for worship by the time I arrive on our campus. Then, when worship begins I am ready.

I am curious to know more about your Saturday night routine that prepares you for worship. Even more, I am interested in knowing what you do during the week that helps you worship each weekend.


The Power of Routine

Lately I know I have been talking a lot about running with my daily blog. I guess you can you tell I am consumed with it, can’t you? This usually happens whenever I train for a marathon. When you log the kind of miles I am logging each morning you cannot help but to think, eat and sleep running.

While running this morning, I considered how important routine is to me. Let me explain.

When God called me to the ministry in 1985, I was not a very organized man. I often “shot-from-the-hip” and considered myself to be an “in-the-moment” kind of guy. Soon after enrolling in seminary I realized how much I would have to change that behavior in order to be used more effectively by God.

As a result of my seminary training I developed a daily routine. Since then, I have augmented my daily regiment because I know the value of being organized.For those of you who say you could never be organized? I am Exhibit A on debunking that myth. And for those who say being organized will quench your impulsive approach to life. I am glad to report I am still a spontaneous person. Discipline, I believe, does not limit one’s spontaneity as much as it enhances it. Do not be afraid to live a life of routine. It will help you more than you think.

Now, back to my thought I had during my early morning run.

There are four things I do each morning that I think produce great results. I have learned to make these disciplines a part of my daily routine. I do not do these things seven days of every week. But I do hit them about five or six days of every week.

My morning routine includes the following:

  • I run every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday morning
  • I read and study my Bible
  • I spend time conversing with the Lord
  • I keep a daily journal of life events
  • I plan my day

That may not seem like much, but those five disciplines keep me in line with what the Lord is doing in my life. The more I work on this routine, the more the Lord seems to work in me and through me.

How do you organize your day? Do you live a structured life? What disciplines do you have in place to produce results?


Sobering Video

My friend Ray Pritchard from introduced me to the following solemn video from his blog. Click here:

As we say at CrossPoint, “WOW!” Let me know what you think.


You Go Noah!

Are you reading through your Bible? I am, and I am enjoying it more than I ever have before. I love reading a different portion of Scripture each day. I call this particular reading plan “going through the Bible as we go through the Bible.”

Did you notice the short sentences of obedience provided in today’s reading from Genesis 4 -7? Go back and look at these sentences:

At that time people began to call upon the name of the Lord.
Genesis 4:26b

But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.
Genesis 5:8

Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.
Genesis 6:22

And Noah did all that the Lord had commanded him.
Genesis 7:5

Do you know what I learn from these sentences? I learn that nothing can take the place of obedience.

Keep reading!


I Ran Out of Gas!

For those of you who do not know, I am currently training for my fourth marathon, the Georgia Marathon (, which will be run on March 25. Actually I am in my sixth week of an 18-week training program.

When I completed the New York City Marathon two years ago I said I would never run another one. I reaffirmed that commitment in 2005 after I had arthroscopic knee surgery. Then something snapped last summer. That “something” was the idea of CrossPoint hosting its fifth annual 5K run in October without the pastor participating. So, toward the end of June last year I decided it was time to get back in to some kind of decent shape, decent enough to run CrossPoint’s 5K.

Don’t ask me when or where I was when I decided to run another marathon, because I cannot actually remember. I do know last September, on a day I was enjoying a long run, the thought of a marathon entered my mind. It had been almost two years since I had run more than five miles. That particular Saturday I turned a five mile jaunt into a seven-miler, and I was, as they say, hooked.

My longest run in the 18-week plan prior to today was 13 miles. I ran that without any difficulty two weeks ago. Last weekend I took a 10 mile job. Today I was required to run 16 miles. To be more precise, I ran nine miles, jogged four more and then slogged through the final three. Even though I did not finish well, I completed my run within the allotted pace I allowed myself.

What happened at the nine mile mark was so frustrating. I have had it happen to me before with other long runs and in my first marathon. The first five or six miles I felt really strong. Miles seven and eight were smooth as well. The problem I encountered at mile nine was that I ran out of gas.

To “run out of gas” means to lose your energy. Your body just shuts down until it receives some protein and carbohydrates to refuel it. I just did not have any fuel. I was on empty, and if I did not get something in my body soon I was not going to finish my run.

Thankfully, I had some money in my running shorts pocket. And, thankfully, there was a gas station about 100 yards away from where I ran out of gas (no pun intended). I walked in, bought a Hershey’s chocolate bar, swallowed it whole, and went back to my run.

I implored the two friends I was running with, to move on without me. They had a goal in mind, and I did not want my body shutting down to impede their progress. I knew, also, they would wait for me at the finish line.

For the next four miles I was strong, once again. And that is when I made my next mistake. I should have saved half the candy bar for the last few miles, because within thirty minutes or so my body started running on empty again. The sugar had worn off and that is why I slogged through the last three miles.

Next time I take a long run I will carry some packets of Gu with me. For those of you who do not know, Gu is an energy gel full of sodium, potassium and carbohydrates. Most training models say you should consume a one ounce packet of an energy gel every five miles. Today, I remembered why Gu was such an important part of my training plan.

Some of you may be wondering why I would write extensively about my running routine today. That is a great question. I have two reasons for writing about it.
The first reason I write about my run is that I was reminded today of one of the key lessons of pushing your body to the limit. Our bodies are remarkable, yet fragile machines. When properly cared for and fed they can produce great results. When we abuse bodies, as I did today, they tend to shut down. I guess my early morning biscuit and Gatorade was not enough fuel. Next time I will start with a muffin, banana and Gatorade. And, yes, I will carry some Gu with me.
The second reason for writing about my run is more ethereal. While completing the last few miles, I thought about how we should feed our souls as well as our bodies. Worship is the best way to feed your soul. We need worship. Worship gives us spiritual energy. And when I have periods without worship, my soul also “runs out of gas.”

There are two times in every week when I feed my soul the fuel of worship. The first time is every morning when I wake. I spend time alone with the Lord. By doing so, my soul has the energy necessary to take on the day. It receives the nutrients to sustain it.

The other time in the week when my soul is fed is during corporate worship. Three times each Sunday morning I refuel on worship. There was a time when I did not worship on Sunday mornings due to everything I had on my mind. Now, thanks to Bryan’s leadership, I am free to worship and seek the presence of God Almighty, even though I have a lot on my mind.

Is your spirit running on empty? Are you spiritually tired? Do you find yourself needing a spiritual lift during your week? I beg you to worship. Worship twice a week—once every morning and again on Sunday morning with your CrossPoint family. When you do so, you will not run out of gas.

Next weekend I am required to run 17 miles at one time. I think I will carry three packs of Gu to refuel my body. I may even spend some time feeding my soul during that long run.


CONNECT: Reading through the Bible

So, how are you doing with your daily Bible reading plan? My mom tells me she is staying a few days ahead so she can avoid ever getting behind in her reading. I try to practice the same discipline. It never hurts to remain a day or two ahead just in case something precludes you from reading one day,

The first four days of reading reaped major benefits for me.

From Genesis, the Lord reminded me that it is not good for man to be alone. I still marvel at the fact that although Adam lived in an age of complete innocence—no crime, no sin, no sickness, no government, no politicians, no taxes, no death—his situation was still not good. Wow!

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will
make him a helper fit for him.”
Genesis 2:18

What about this reminder on the second day of our Bible reading? How timely are these words?

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:8 & 9

Of course, the Psalms always speak to me. Did any of you see this sentence hidden at the end of Psalm 2?

Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
Psalm 2:12b

And then there is this incredible statement of faith made by Job, found in today’s Bible reading plan:

Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.
Job 1:20-22

I think it is rather obvious our plan to “read through the Bible” as we read through the Bible will produce great benefit for us in 2007. If you have not started reading, please start today. You still have time to catch up.
If you are reading through your Bible this year, let me know. Also, I would be curious to hear how the Lord has spoken to you thus far.