Sunday, December 30, 2007

“I’ll Tell You What our Problem Is: Lack of Leadership!”

As I talk with elders, deacons, preachers, and other concerned Christians, I hear this statement often. I am also concerned about leadership in the family, in the church, and in our county.

It is my understanding that we have the leadership that we deserve, that we want, that we have prayed for, that we have asked for, and that we have trained.

When Jesus saw the multitudes without leadership and direction, He said, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:37, 38, NKJV).

Sometimes when a brother makes the statement about the lack of leadership, I ask, “How many leadership seeds have you been planting?”. God’s law of sowing and reaping has been in effect since creation:

We reap what we sow. “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7).
We reap more than we sow. “But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty” (Matthew 13:23).
We reap in proportion to how much we sow. “But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully” (2 Corinthians 9:6).

These principles of sowing and reaping will work for plants (Genesis 1:12), evangelism (Acts 2:47; Acts 5:42; Acts 6:7), judgment and/or forgiveness (Luke 6:37, 38), giving money (2 Corinthians 9:6, 7), and training leaders (2 Timothy 2:2; Ephesians 4:11, 12).

If I don’t like the crop of leadership that I see, I need to evaluate my leadership planting. It will take many, many leadership seeds to produce that crop that we need. In the parable of the soils in Matthew 13, 75% of the seed is ultimately lost: all that falls on the wayside, stony places, and thorny ground. Only the good ground produces.

When I make the wise statement: “I’ll tell you what our problem is: lack of leadership!”, I need to evaluate my leadership farming.

How often and fervently do I pray for workers for the harvest (Matthew 9:37, 38)?
How many “leadership seeds” am I sowing by telling men, women, boys, and girls that I believe in them and that I am praying for them to become elders, deacons, Christian fathers and mothers and grandparents, Bible class teachers, and evangelists (1 Timothy 3:1-13; 1 Timothy 5:14; 2 Timothy 1:3-5; 2 Timothy 4:1-5)?
How often do I express appreciation privately and publicly to present leadership (1 Thessalonians 5:12, 13)? How long has it been since the congregation has had an elders’ appreciation day and/or dinner? Several members of one congregation told me, “The reason we don’t have elder appreciation dinners is that we don’t appreciate our elders.” That says more about the people talking than it does about the elders. God’s will is to honor leaders (Romans 13:7; 1 Peter 2:17). Caesar was not a perfect elder in a local congregation but God said, “Honor the king.” Caesar will have to answer for how he responded or did not respond to the grace of God. I will have to answer as to how I honored my leaders. Elders will have to answer for their effective or ineffective leadership (Hebrews 13:17). I will have to answer as to how I honored my spiritual leaders (1 Thessalonians 5:12, 13).

How is your leadership crop this year? What are you expecting next year? Can you say in your encouragement of leadership, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase” (1 Corinthians 3:6)?

God’s law of sowing and reaping works regardless of the seed!

If the problem is lack of leadership, the solution begins with me!

We are starting a leadership sowing class in Eddyville, Kentucky, Wednesday night, January 2. This same class will be offered in Albany, Georgia, March 12-15. For more information: . The brethren at Beattie Road welcome others to come to Albany that week to study and pray with us that God will send more laborers into the harvest. This class is portable – we will give tools and methods for teaching leadership principles that can be taken to other congregations and shared there. If I can answer questions, contact me: .

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Learning to Love my Friend(s) 10

Tonight was our last night for the class. Every person has been in every class. Two couples did a make-up class when health or schedule prohibited their participation in the regular class. That is part of the agreement of being in the class.

We will recognize each person at graduation Sunday night after services. I plan to have a picture on my web site: .

The outline for tonight's class:

* * *

How Can I Be a Friend to Jesus?

A. As we come to the close of this series of classes, I hope we can say with confidence what Solomon wrote. Ecclesiastes 7:8
B. In this final session, let us
1. Reflect and review.
2. Apply.
3. Evaluate.
4. Finish.
C. Jesus is my Friend; how can I be a friend to Him?

I. BY OBEYING HIM. John 15:14; James 2:21-23


A. He understands me.
1. How can I understand Him?
2. How can I understand others?
3. How can I understand myself?
a. When tired?
b. When lonely?
c. When tempted?
d. When happy?
e. When sad?
B. He loves me all the time, even when I have problems.
1. How can I love Jesus all the time?
2. How can I love others all the time, even when they treat me and others wrong?
3. How can I love myself all the time, even when I make mistakes?
C. He tells me the truth.
1. How can I tell Jesus the truth and when should I tell Him the truth?
2. How can I improve my truthfulness with others?
3. How can I improve my truthfulness with myself?
D. He is willing to help and serve me.
1. How can I help and serve Jesus?
2. How can I help and serve others?
3. How can I ask and receive the help and service I need from others?
E. He brings out the best in me and challenges me to grow.
1. How can I respond to Jesus and follow Him in growing?
2. How can I help others to grow spiritually?
3. How can I encourage myself to grow? 1 Samuel 30:6

A. What was helpful in this class?
B. How can this class be improved?
C. What needs to be discussed that we haven’t discussed?
D. How do you want to say, “Good-bye”?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Learning to Love my Friend(s) 9

My Friend Brings Out the Best in Me and Challenges Me to Grow

A. A good friend is not a “yes-man.”
B. A friend reinforces my strong traits and challenges me to grow in areas of weakness. Proverbs 27:17
C. Jesus is that kind of friend to me and encourages me to be that kind of friend to others.

A. Ability and opportunity. Matthew 25:14,15,29; 1 Corinthians 15:9,10
B. The freedom to start where I am and to grow. Luke 16:10
C. Compliments when I succeed.
1. I need to know how to give a compliment.
a. Tell what you like.
b. Tell why you like it.
c. Ask a question.
2. I need to know how to receive a compliment. Proverbs 27:2
a. When complimented, say, “Thank you.”
b. Accept good gifts.
c. Don’t insult people by denying what they say good about you.

A. By moving my motivation more and more from fear to faith, hope, and love.
1. Fear of punishment motivates and is scriptural. 2 Corinthians 5:10,11; Matthew 10:28
2. As I mature, my motivation grows in the direction of
a. Faith. 2 Corinthians 5:7
b. Hope. Romans 8:24; Romans 5:1-5; 1 Peter 3:15
c. Love. 1 John 4:18
B. However, fear of the wrong thing will motivate in the wrong direction.
1. God doesn’t give that kind of fear. 2 Timothy 1:7
2. In place of timidity, there should be
a. Power.
b. Love.
c. Sound mind.

A. Why is open rebuke better than secret love?
B. When would a friend wound you?
C. How can I correct in the right way?
1. Be truthful. Ephesians 4:25; Matthew 5:37; Ephesians 4:15
2. Keep current. Ephesians 4:26,27; Matthew 5:23-26
3. Attack the issue, not the person. Ephesians 4:29; Matthew 5:21,22
4. Act, don’t react. Ephesians 4:31,32; Matthew 7:12
5. Suggest positive traits to replace negative habits. Ephesians 4:25-32

A. Friendship is complicated and powerful.
1. For good. Proverbs 27:17
2. For evil. 1 Corinthians 15:33
B. Consider:
1. How can I be a friend to Jesus?
2. How can I be a friend to others?
3. How can I be a friend to myself?
4. How can this class be improved?
5. How will I end this class and say good-bye?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Learning to Love my Friend(s) 8

We had a good group to construct a Time Line of the Eddyville congregation two weeks ago. It is impressive to see the last 47 years of this church on a 20-foot poster. We will be getting together to discuss this history and what we learn from it.

* * *

Jesus Is Willing to Help and Serve Me with Patience

A. A friend is someone who will help when you have a need.
B. A friend is someone who will ask you for help when he or she has a need.

A. Who will be the greatest? Matthew 20:24; Mark 9:33,34; Luke 9:46; Luke 22:24
B. Jesus answered and illustrated the way to greatness over and over again. Matthew 20:25-28; Mark 9:35-37; Luke 9:47,48; Luke 22:25-27
C. It is interesting to notice the occasion of each argument concerning the issue of greatness. Matthew 20:17-19; Mark 9:30-32; Luke 9:44,45; Luke 22:21-23

A. Jesus performed a lowly act of service. John 13:3-11
B. Jesus did the act, then He reviewed the lesson.
1. He checked for understanding. John 13:12
a. Many people see, but never understand.
b. Change, growth, real help and learning comes from understanding. Matthew 13:15
2. Jesus washed their feet, not just to get their feet clean, but to teach a lesson. John 13:13-15
3. He put the issue of greatness in perspective. John 13:16
4. When a lesson has been given, we get a passing grade and a diploma only if we complete the assignment. John 13:17
5. Much of our effectiveness as a helper and teacher will be determined by how we relate to people. John 13:20; Matthew 10:40

A. In this, He taught us about service. 1 John 3:16-18
1. He died because He chose to serve and to do the will of His Father. John 10:17,18
2. He died with much struggle and pain. Matthew 27:45-50
3. He served, died, knowing the reward that would be His. Hebrews 12:1,2
B. These same principles need to be a part of my service to others.
1. Choice.
2. Much service will involve inconvenience and pain.
3. I will be rewarded.

A. He talks to God, the Father for us. Hebrews 7:25
B. He is our Advocate. 1 John 2:1
1. He pleads our case from personal knowledge and experience of pain and difficulty. Hebrews 4:15
2. A defense lawyer can only be helpful when we have told Him what we have done that needs His defense. 1 John 1:9

A. What is something we can learn from the disciples of Jesus in their disagreements that can be helpful in working with others who are troubled?
B. What are some ways you might be able to show a friend something you have been trying to tell them?
C. What are some ways we can make efforts for people to receive us in order that they might receive Jesus?
1. When are some times that it might be helpful to talk to someone else in behalf of a friend?
2. When would it be appropriate to stand beside a friend and plead his cause?
3. What is a situation that one might “lay down his life” for a friend without actually dying for that person?

Monday, October 1, 2007

Learning to Love my Friend(s) 7

Everyone was present and participated in the class tonight. We discussed the necessary, challenging, and sometimes difficult quality of telling the truth. Jesus was truth (John 14:6). Obviously, He told the truth.

We spend the last part of our class tonight thinking about telling the truth as it relates to selecting a preacher.

* * *

A. Why was it easy for Jesus to tell the truth? John 14:6
B. How did Jesus tell the truth to those who were considering following Him? Luke 14:25-33
C. How did Jesus demonstrate dependability?
1. He made promises. Matthew 5:17,18; Luke 19:10
2. Jesus kept those promises, even when it was difficult.
a. Even when he didn’t feel well and wasn’t happy. Matthew 26:37,38
b. Even when He didn’t get the encouragement He needed. Matthew 26:40,41
c. Even when He asked over and over and could find no easier way than to do what He said He would do. Matthew 26:44
3. Jesus thought about getting out of His suffering.
a. If Jesus had prayed to His Father, what would He have given to Him? Matthew 26:53
b. What would have been the consequences of making the choice of calling for the angels? Matthew 26:54

A. Believe what Jesus said about the freeing quality of truth. John 8:32
B. Realize that consistent truthfulness is a difficult goal to reach.
1. Telling the truth is difficult because it is difficult to know the truth - even our own truth. Jeremiah 17:9; 1 John 1:8
2. Paul wrote to faithful Christians who needed to quit lying. Ephesians 4:25; Ephesians 1:1; Acts 7:58
3. Although it is impossible for God to lie (Hebrews 6:18), men do not always keep their promises. 2 Peter 3:9
4. This failure to keep promises may be due to:
a. Dishonesty.
b. Disability.
c. Lack of information.
d. Fear.
e. Forgetfulness.
C. Count the cost of not knowing, loving, and telling the truth. 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12
D. Consider these principles.
1. Understand clearly what will be expected of you before you make promises. Mark 10:35,36
2. Don’t promise what you can’t deliver. Mark 10:37-40
3. Mind your own business. Matthew 20:23; 1 Thessalonians 4:11
4. Don’t prop up what you say. Matthew 5:33-36
5. Say what you mean, mean what you say. Matthew 5:37
6. Be accountable when it doesn’t work out that way. 1 John 1:9
7. Is it the time to tell this part of the truth? John 16:12
8. Listen to understand before you talk to answer. Proverbs 18:13
9. Try to get all possible pertinent information from different sources before drawing conclusions. Proverbs 18:17
10. Be conscious of telling the truth in “little things.” Luke 16:10

A. Why is telling the truth a leadership principle that we need to practice?
B. When are some times when it will be hard to tell the truth as a leader?
C. What will an effective leader do when he or she finds that what he or she has promised has not or will not come true?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Learning to Love my Friend(s) 6

Our sixth class last night was encouraging. We have good participation.

In preparing for our time-line and self-study, we have spreadsheets completed for the years 1961 - 1989. The remainder will be finished soon.

A family meeting will be conducted after services Sunday night, September 30.

Here is the outline of our class last night:

* * *

My Friend Jesus Loves Me All the Time

A. This is one of the Biblical definitions of a friend. Proverbs 17:17; Job 6:14
B. But how can I do this and not condone the sinful actions of others?

A. Jesus invited the troubled. Matthew 11:28-30
B. Rank sinners were more attracted to Jesus than the religious people. Matthew 21:28-32
1. He taught that each person was important and He treated them that way. Matthew 16:26
2. He selected a tax collector as one of His apostles. Mark 2:13,14
3. He ate with them. Mark 2:15-17
4. He accepted their company, admiration, and gifts. Luke 7:36-50
5. He forgave them. John 8:3-11

A. Understand my job description: it does not include keeping a heaven and hell list of people living or dead.
1. It is true that we can judge the actions of people and respond appropriately as God has authorized in the Bible.
a. We can inspect fruit. Matthew 7:15,20
b. We can withhold fellowship from brethren who rebelliously participate in willful sin. 1 Corinthians 5:11
2. However, I have not been authorized to keep a heaven and hell list, a summary of eternal judgment decrees.
a. It is not the time and I don’t have adequate information. 1 Corinthians 4:3-5
b. I don’t have the books. Revelation 20:12
c. I don’t have the authority. John 5:22
3. But what about judging righteous judgment? John 7:14-24
a. This had to do with Jesus’ education and whether He was teaching the truth.
b. This was in response to Jesus healing a man on the Sabbath day.
4. The judgment committed to the Son exclusively was eternal judgment. John 5:22-29
B. Be honest with myself, always searching for and applying truth to myself as I relate to others. Romans 14:14,22,23
C. Really give people a choice; invitation is not manipulation. Matthew 11:28-30; John 6:66-69; 1 Corinthians 1:17
D. Always leave the front door open and keep looking down the road for those who choose to come later. Luke 15:11-24
E. Reassure people of their value, acceptance, and the availability of forgiveness. Matthew 26:69-75; Mark 16:7

A. How could you apply the principles of your Friend, Jesus, to develop a friendship with a dishonest politician, a prostitute, or a street person?
B. What structure would you set to keep from being infected with the sin in their life?
C. When and how might you proceed into a Bible study to teach them the good news of Jesus?
D. After their baptism, how would you help them place membership in this congregation, feel a part of the fellowship, continue to grow as a Christian, and be accepted as an important part of the body of Christ?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

World Record!!!

I enjoy seeing people break world records. Often, when a young person tells me it’s their birthday, I respond, "You have broken a world record!!! Never in the history of the entire world have you ever been five years old before. That is a world record!!!"
I broke a world record last Saturday. I have been running 38 years. I have run in uncounted 5K’s, 10K’s, three half marathons, and three marathons. I had never won a trophy. Never first, second, or third in overall competition. Never first, second, or third in my age group. That changed Saturday.
This past weekend was Founder’s Day in Eddyville, Kentucky. It was a weekend of music, crafts, a parade, and vendors with barbecue, cotton candy, funnel cakes, and more. They had the first Founder’s Day Fun Run and Walk Saturday morning. The two-mile trip started and ended at the Lyon County Middle School across the road from where we live. Members of the Eddyville church of Christ made up half the field of runners and walkers: Zach Lisanby, my wife, Gail, and me.
We started on time at 7:00 a.m. I finished 17 minutes and 9 seconds later – second in my age group. The other man, Clem Wethington, finished first with some distance between us. He was nice to run and talk with me to the turn around point – the fire plug at the NAPA store. Then he left and finished well.
After the run, I walked downtown and watched the three-on-three basketball competition and the parade. I was impressed by the cars carrying the 2007 Miss Founder’s Day Pageant winners. There was Miss Founder’s Day, another with Junior Miss Founder’s Day, followed by additional cars and pickups carrying Little Miss Founder’s Day, Petite Miss Founder’s Day, Tiny Miss Founder’s Day, Wee Miss Founder’s Day, and Baby Miss Founder’s Day. There was also a vehicle carrying third and fourth runners up. My guess is that many (if not all) were breaking world records. I did not hear one complaint that the organizers were giving too much recognition to too many people.
We followed that with a barbecue sandwich and Hawaiian shaved ice with Joe and Cheryl Walker. I enjoyed the party!!!
And I feel encouraged at breaking a world record with my first trophy for running!!!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Learning to Love my Friend(s) 5

Sunday night we had a family meeting at Eddyville. Joe Walker, one of our elders, said that the elders were considering installing power point and a system for recording sermons. He asked for input from the congregation about this. We discussed the continued process of gathering the information for the statistics for the congregation for the past 46 years. Many are cooperating in this project. We passed out a questionnaire on our Bible school. 30 people participated in providing information on that. The results were interesting and should be helpful in improving this part of our work. We discussed the preacher selection process. Books have been ordered and given to the elders that give suggestions on how to proceed. The last part of the meeting was the criticism -- "What do you think about the preacher?". I appreciate everyone who participated in this. I promised to : (1) Listen; (2) Write it down; (3) Think about it. I look forward to our next criticism session in 3 months. Thank you for helping me improve.

Tonight, we finished half of the classes in our elder, deacon, preacher, spouse study on Jesus as our Friend. Everyone was present. We had a good discussion of grief -- how it affects us and how we can minister to our friends in grief. We are planning a graduation on a 4th Sunday night after we have completed the 10 lessons.

* * *

My Friend Jesus Understands Me When I Am Sad

A. What can we learn from the two shortest verses in the Bible? John 11:35; 1 Thessalonians 5:16
B. Was Jesus obeying the principle in 1 Thessalonians 5:16 when he wept in John 11:35?
C. What is the biblical teaching about the painful feelings of grief and sorrow?
1. Is it, “Don’t worry – be happy?”
2. What did Jesus experience in the hours immediately preceding the cross? Matthew 26:37,38; Luke 22:44
3. Is it true that if we will just keep our minds on heaven, we won’t be concerned about these things which happen on earth? 1 Peter 1:3-6
4. Which does the Bible say is better, mourning or laughter? Ecclesiastes 7:2-4
a. Did he say it was more fun, enjoyable?
b. How could sorrow be better than laughter?
c. Is it wrong, sinful to laugh? Proverbs 17:22
d. How do you reconcile these verses?
e. What is the principle and blessing that Jesus states in the beatitudes that relates to this discussion? Matthew 5:4

A. What did Isaiah prophesy about Jesus that would qualify Him to understand me in my sorrow? Isaiah 53:3,4
B. Notice the examples of Jesus crying.
1. Why did Jesus cry over the city of Jerusalem? Luke 19:41-44
2. Jesus cried when Lazarus died.
a. What was Jesus’ relationship with Lazarus? John 11:3,11
b. What stages of grief do you see in this event in the life of Jesus? John 11:19-37
C. Notice the example of Jesus understanding the apostles.
1. While some may say that the apostles were unconcerned and indifferent, Jesus gave another observation. Matthew 26:40,41
2. To what does Luke, the doctor, attribute their sleep? Luke 22:45
3. This followed his unique comment about the intensity of Jesus’ agony. Luke 22:44

A. What is grief?
B. When do we suffer grief; what is the key word?
C. What are some possible reactions to grief?
D. Should the Christian try to deny and suppress feelings of grief as soon as possible since the Bible says that we should “sorrow not”? 1 Thessalonians 4:13, KJV

A. How can I help others who are experiencing loss?
B. What are some things I can do months after the loss?
C. How would the stages of grief relate to someone leaving another religion and those connected with it?
D. How would it be possible for someone to experience grief over giving up some sinful habit or practice?

A. Be aware of your feelings when you lose small things.
B. Practice grieving as one with hope in these small losses.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Learning to Love my Friend(s) 4

I was with the Upper Sinking congregation in Hickman County, Tennessee, last week in a 6-day Gospel Meeting. They had good attendance at each service. One of the highlights of the week was a children's class each night at 7:15. Out of a congregation of about 45, there were 13 children in the class. Most of them were present for every service. Joe Bates has recently started preaching and working with this congregation. They are enthusiastic about doing the Lord's work.

* * *

Tonight, we had the fourth of the classes for elders, deacons, and spouses at Eddyville. These families are investing interest and energy in these studies. Each class lasts 2 1/2 hours. I appreciate and I am encouraged by the desire to learn and to be more effective that these leaders are showing.

Below is the outline of tonights class:

* * *

My Friend Jesus Understands Me When I Am Tempted
Lesson 4

A. Why do you think Jesus was really tempted to do these things at this time in His life? Matthew 4:1-10
B. What is temptation?
1. Is it a sin to be tempted?
2. Is it a sin to think about sinning?
3. Have you ever been tempted to do anything you have never thought about doing?
4. Is it a sin to want to sin?
5. Have you ever been tempted to do anything you did not want to do? James 1:13-15; Matthew 5:28
6. What sacrifices might one have to make to overcome temptation? Matthew 5:29,30
C. How can I know whether I am thinking about sinning as Moses or Jesus did (being tempted) or whether I am already sinning?
1. Am I looking at all known choices and their consequences?
2. Am I looking for truth or an excuse?
3. Am I being honest with myself? Psalm 51:6; Psalm 139:23,24

A. Have I given myself permission to look at more than one choice and be confused? Hebrews 11:24-27
1. Did Moses think about making the right choice (obeying and honoring God and His will)?
2. Did Moses think about sinning (making the wrong choice)?
a. How long was it from the time that Moses “became of age”, leaving his place as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, until he led the people of God out of Egypt? Acts 7:20-35; Acts 7:23,30
b. How enthusiastic was Moses, even after this period of time to obey God, face Pharaoh, and lead the Israelites out of Egypt? Exodus 3,4
c. What do you learn from Moses and his decision-making process?
B. Evaluate these statements in helping people to deal with temptation:
1. “What you need to do is just forget about this temptation, not think about it any more, and that will solve your problem.”
2. “Many people sin, not because they think about sinning, but because they do not think about sinning enough.”
C. Is this a candy decision or a car decision?

A. What should I expect from a true friend during temptation?
1. Condemnation that I should ever think of doing the wrong thing?
2. Telling me I cannot do what I am thinking about doing?
3. Agreement with whatever I wanted to do?
4. Detailed instructions on what to think and how to act?
5. Something else?
B. How can I be a friend like Jesus to someone who is experiencing temptation? Hebrews 2:17,18

Conclusion: Thinking about the next class: My Friend Jesus Understands Me When I Am Sad.
A. Be prepared not to enjoy or necessarily “feel good” preparing for or participating in this class.
1. How did Jesus learn obedience? Hebrews 5:8,9
2. How did Jesus describe the process of following Him? Luke 9:23,24
B. Think about a loss or losses you have had in your life and how you have or have not experienced different stages of grief.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Learning to Love my Friend(s) 3

Last week, we were with the Dorris Chapel congregation in Gibson County, Tennessee. They had great attendance from the community and sister congregations. They are doing well. They have had seven baptisms in the past few weeks. Their preacher, Tim Fuqua, has been with them twenty-three years. Valess Stults and Murray Turner serve well as elders. I preached there 1965, 1966. My first baptisms were there. The $150.00 they paid me for leading singing during a meeting in the summer of 1968 helped pay the hospital bill for our first child which we had without the benefit of insurance. It was encouraging to see their vitality.

Tonight, we had the third class for elders, deacons, and wives at Eddyville. As in previous sessions, we had perfect attendance and good participation. Yesterday, one of our elders, Randell O'Bryan, commended many people who had given good service. We started prayer and preparation for the special services September 2-5. Tim Alsup, who served well here, will be the preacher. We are looking forward to him and Arinne being back in Eddyville. I have heard good things about his ministry here. I am enjoying listening to him preach on tape while I shave in the moring.

The outline for tonight's class is below:

* * *

My Friend Jesus Understands Me When I Am Tired and Lonely
Lesson 3

A. Feeling rights.
1. I have a right to my feelings.
a. God made me with emotions.
b. He made me with the capacity to experience sadness, fear, and anger as well as joy and contentment.
2. I have a right to feel as I do toward other people.
a. These feelings should be contrasted with actions coming out of those feelings.
b. Jesus, Who did not sin, was able to feel compassion, grief, and anger as well as other emotions. Mark 1:41; Mark 3:5
3. I have a right to express my feelings.
a. Expression of feelings should be done openly, honestly, specifically, caringly, respectfully, and responsibly.
b. Feelings should also be expressed at the appropriate time, in the proper place, in adequate amounts, and toward the appropriate person.
4. I have a right and responsibility to listen and respond to the feelings of others.
a. One who truly listens to another, communicates:
(1) “I care about you.”
(2) “You are important and valuable as a person.”
(3) “You are not bad and terrible although you share your painful feelings with me.”
b. Careful and concerned listening is a way of practicing the Golden Rule. Matthew 7:12
5. I have a right to process or work through my feelings.
a. Often when one is expressing painful feelings such as grief or anger someone will say, “You shouldn’t feel that way.”
b. However, this contradicts clear Bible teaching. Ecclesiastes 3:4; Romans 12:15; Ephesians 4:26
c. To work through or put away feelings, these steps may be helpful: Ephesians 4:31
(1) A person must become aware of having particular feelings.
(2) An individual must correctly identify his feelings.
(3) An individual must analyze his feelings and their origin thoroughly.
(4) He needs to express the appropriate amount of feelings at an appropriate time, in the appropriate place, toward the correct person(s) or event.
(5) In working through feelings, a person must experience them - not just say feeling words; for example, crying until one is finished. (Many of these thoughts came from Managing Church Conflict, by James A. Jones.)
B. If this is true, Jesus understands me with all my feelings.

A. We can get weary in well doing. Galatians 6:9
B. Why do we get weary in well doing?
1. We have no hope; it seems nothing is being accomplished. Isaiah 55:10,11; 1 Corinthians 15:58
2. We may have a task that is too difficult. Acts 15:10
3. We may have more than we can do. Acts 6:1-4
C. Jesus promised those who followed Him rest. Matthew 11:28-30
D. He taught that principle to His disciples. Mark 6:30-32; Mark 6:45,46

A. What does it mean to feel lonely?
1. Does it always mean that there are no people around?
2. How can we feel connected with ourselves and others when we are alone?
B. What are some times when people are likely to feel lonely?
1. When was a time when you felt lonely?
2. Is it permissible to express your painful feelings, even to God? Psalm 77
C. Why can Jesus understand me when I am lonely? John 6:66; Matthew 26:56
D. Who will always be with me when I am obeying the Lord? Matthew 28:20
E. Who will be looking for me if I should stray away from the Lord? Luke 15:4-7

A. What does the word friend mean to you?
B. What did you and I do to deserve and demand that Jesus be our friend, come to earth, and die for us? Romans 5:8,9
C. “God loves you whether you like it or not!”
D. In view of our lack of merit, and yet knowing that Christ did die for us, is our motivation grace or guilt?
1. Did Paul serve because he still was guilty or because Jesus had released him from his guilt?
a. How could he say that he was the hardest working apostle and not be bragging? 1 Corinthians 15:9,10
b. How did he see grace as an opportunity for service and an occasion for praise? 1 Timothy 1:12-17
2. Define grace in your own words.
3. How can this motivate us to be more effective servants, friends, and leaders?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Learning to Love My Friend(s) 2

We had a family meeting Sunday night at Eddyville. I invited people to help with processing the information for the congregational self-study. The wife of one of our elders, Emma Walker, has kept attendance and contribution records for 46 years. That will be valuable in looking at our past. I have been editing and fomatting the self-study questionaire that I received from Charles Siburt. We need people to print, fold, colate, and staple those. More than enough people volunteered to help. I am encouaged.

We had our second home Bible study at the home of one of our deacons tonight. Everyone was present and participated well. We talked tonight about how we can better understand and help others. I am including the outline below.

* * *

My Friend Jesus Understands Me
Lesson 2

Three aims of this study:
1. Learn to love and appreciate Jesus more as my Friend.
2. Become more like Jesus in my friendship with others as He is a Friend to me.
3. Learn to teach and communicate to others that they also can have a friendship with Jesus.



A. How do you feel when someone tries to read your mind?
B. How accurate are you in reading another's mind?


A. Because many people have answers to their own problems; but they need the assistance of friends who can help them draw them out. Proverbs 20:5
B. This means that I need to be slow to talk. James 1:19
1. I cannot talk and listen at the same time.
2. I may speak before I understand, be embarrassed, and be ineffective. Proverbs 18:13
C. Some advice from Jesus.
1. Take heed what you hear. Mark 4:24
2. Take heed how you hear. Luke 8:18
3. Am I trying to learn the truth or am I trying to get my way? John 8:32
4. Have I listened to more than one side of a disagreement? Proverbs 18:17
D. Am I listening to answer or understand?
1. How important is motive in our actions and in the actions of others? Proverbs 4:23
2. Am I irritated at the person to whom I am talking and what they are doing or not doing because it reminds me of something I am doing or not doing? Luke 6:39-45
3. Do you think that many people sin because they want to sin and be unhappy or because they haven't thought through the consequences of their actions? Luke 23:34; Acts 3:17; 1 Corinthians 2:7,8
4. How could it be possible for someone to be living outside of God's will, even for a long time, and not realize it? 1 John 1:8
5. If I can learn to be a friend to others as Jesus is a friend to me in understanding, what are the opportunities for me to help:
a. Others who are my friends? 2 Samuel 12:1-13
(1) How long had it been since David had committed the sins of adultery and murder? 2 Samuel 11:27
(2) If it were possible for David, who was a man after God's own heart, to commit the sins of adultery and murder and not realize the impact of his disobedience for that long, could it be possible for that to happen to people today?
(3) How could listening to understand rather than listening to answer be both more helpful and easier?
b. Myself?
(1) If I learn something about myself while trying to understand others, what are some possible reactions I might have?
(2) How could this be an opportunity for my growth? Psalm 51:6; Psalm 139:23,24; Galatians 6:1
(3) How do I grow, change? Matthew 13:15

The factory engine wouldn’t start
And so they took the thing apart
To search for flaws.
They took it down from top to base,
They looked at flange and gear and case,
To find the cause.
“Something’s broken,” they declared,
“And what it is must be repaired.”

Nearby a drowsy workman stood,
And someone muttered: “He’s no good;
Just let him go.”
They did not take that man apart,
Or think to search his mind and heart,
The cause to know.
Nobody thought to ask him why
There was no luster in his eye.

But had they looked into the gloom
Of what he called a sitting room,
Or searched his life
They would have found a woman frail,
Tubercular and drawn and pale,
Who was his wife.
And then they might have understood
Why he seemed to be no good.

When engines in a factory stop
We search the things from base to top;
But when a man breaks
We seldom pause,
To search his life to find the cause.
Yet we might mend him could we find
The thing that’s preying on his mind.

- Anonymous

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Learning to Love My Friend(s) 1

We had our first home Bible study at our house tonight with all the elders, deacons, and wives present. I appreciate the presence, interest, and participation of everyone.
Below is the outline of the lesson we studied.

* * *

Opening Lesson
Lesson 1

A. Define opening: “to enter upon: begin; to move from closed position; to make discerning or responsive.”
B. In this class, we want to have an opening of our:
1. Bible. Psalm 119:105,130
2. Mind. Acts 17:11,28
3. Eyes. Matthew 13:15
4. Ears. Matthew 11:15; Revelation 2:7,11,17,29;
Revelation 3:6,13,22; Revelation 13:9
5. Heart. Matthew 13:15

A. God is the supreme authority. Ecclesiastes 5:1,2
B. God speaks through His word. 1 Corinthians 2:9-13
C. His thoughts are great! Romans 11:33-36

II. LISTEN TO MYSELF. 2 Timothy 2:7
A. How do we listen to ourselves?
B. Am I weak enough to help others?
1. At this time, do I need to help or do I need to be helped? Some people are not ready to help others. They have so many problems on a particular day, which they have not worked through, that when they supposedly minister, they are actually looking for someone to help them. They unload their problems on others.
2. How can I get strong enough to minister to others?
a. By being weak. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
b. By being weak enough to ask for help. Matthew 7:7,8;
Galatians 6:2
c. By being weak enough to know I am helpless. 1 Kings 3:7-10
d. I won’t always know what to say. Matthew 5:3
e. I won’t always be able to cheer people up. Proverbs 13:12
C. Am I strong enough to help others?
1. Am I aware of the wisdom I have now and have available by learning from myself? Psalm 51:6
2. When I was in a similar situation, how did I feel; what did I need? Galatians 6:1
3. Do I believe (understand) what I sing?
Amazing grace! how sweet the sound!
that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.
a. Do I believe what the Bible says? Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23;
1 John 1:8
4. Could I ever be in a similar situation in the future?
1 Corinthians 10:12
5. How would I feel; what would I need; how would I want to be treated? Matthew 7:12
D. To treat strangers right, I need the heart of a stranger.
Exodus 23:9
E. I need to learn from my experience.
1. I read what the Bible says. Romans 10:17; Matthew 6:33
2. I observe that what the Bible says corresponds to reality.
Psalm 37:25
Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er!
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
O for grace to trust Him more.

A. To understand from their understanding, comments, and insights.
Acts 8:30,31
B. To learn from their good examples.
1. Jesus. John 1:14
2. Others. Hebrews 11: Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, others.
C. To learn from other’s bad examples.
1. Lot’s wife. Luke 17:32
2. Disobedient Israelites. 1 Corinthians 10:1-13
D. To learn from things, places, and events.
1. A fallen fence covered with weeds. Proverbs 24:30-34
2. Matthew 6.
a. Birds. Matthew 6:26
b. Grass. Matthew 6:28-34
3. Matthew 13.
a. A farmer. Matthew 13:3-9,18-23
b. One small seed. Matthew 13:31,32
c. Yeast. Matthew 13:33
d. Hidden treasure. Matthew 13:44
e. A valuable pearl. Matthew 13:45,46
f. Fishing. Matthew 13:47-50

A. What have you learned from this opening lesson?
B. What might you be able to learn, using the principles we have discussed in your family, on your job, driving down the highway, during leisure time, serving others, being a leader?

Friday, April 20, 2007


April 1 was the biggest and longest party I have attended. The brothers and sisters at Berry's Chapel went the second and third mile to make our last day a memorable one. More than 500 people were present for the morning services. It was good that my entire immediate family was able to be present. The food for the noon meal was plentiful and delicious. The 4ever Brothers did a great job singing. The afternoon service with Jermey Houck and Chad Hedgepath speaking was encouraging. I appreciated the preachers from the Third Monday Workshop coming with their gifts. They gave me enough motel soap to last at least through my first interim. The elders were kind in their remarks. The gifts were generous and appreciated. We have hung the picture of downtown Franklin in our foyer. The Cracker Barrel rockers are already being used. The more than $5,000.00 that members at Berry's Chapel gave in our honor to Childhaven was a surprise and will be used to help children. I was at a board meeting there April 12. That contribution is appreciated by the board, staff, and children at Childhaven.
I'm glad we read the book, Managing Transitions, by William Bridges in our staff meetings during the last few months. He discussed the steps in a transition: ending, new beginning, and the neutral zone. I remember that confusion and disorientation are normal in the neutral zone. The first week after "retirement" was spent in work, service, and cleaning out my "upper room" study. Copying files to flash drives and deleting data and programs on the church computer ran into the next week.
One of the projects we are enjoying is visiting congregations where we have worked over the last forty years. Sunday, April 8, we went to Yorkville, Tennessee. Forty years previously, the second Sunday in April, 1967, I preached my first sermon as the full-time preacher for that congregation. They asked me to preach. It was encouraging to hear Bobby McKnight repeat my favorite memory verse that developed during that ministry four decades earlier.
That Sunday night, we went to West Nashville Heights in Nashville, Tennessee, where I preached before coming to Berry's Chapel. We look forward to other visits before starting at Eddyville, Kentucky, May 6. That will be "Friends and Family Day." We moved some boxes there Monday night. They are preparing the house for us in a beautiful way.
I am writing this at 5:45 a.m. I have spent the night setting up a new printer, transfering files to my laptop, which will be my "interim computer," and learning a new program for graphics. I usually stay up a night or two with a new computer.
We are packing and collecting duplicates of things we will need both at home and at our other home.
I have bought a new book on blogging. I hope to learn what it is and how to do it better.
Thanks to Jill Parker, I now have a web site that tells something about me and interim ministry. Please check it out at: