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March 2010

Posts from February 2010

Needs Being Assessed in Chile

Just heard some good news from Fritz Wilson and Jude Fontus and the relief effort in Haiti.  Fritz is a church member here at OP First and Jude is the Associate Pastor at our Haitian Church.  They are currently in Haiti assessing needs and serving the Lord by serving the people.

Now, as of this morning's news, we hear that a severe earthquake has hit Chile.  Our International Mission Board is on the move to assess the damage and offer aid.  Here's the latest from the Acts 1:8 Challenge Blog 

Southern Baptists are moving quickly to assess relief needs in the aftermath of an 8.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Chile at 3:34 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 27, killing at least 82 people, collapsing buildings and setting off a tsunami. 

Disaster relief specialists from South Carolina and California are on standby to respond, said Jim Brown, director of the U.S. office for the International Mission Board’s primary partner in disaster relief, Baptist Global Response. A decision about what initial response is needed will be made within the next 12 hours.

The epicenter was located just 70 miles from Concepcion, a city of more than 200,000 people, the U.S. Geological 
Survey reported. A tsunami wave struck the Robinson Crusoe Islands, 410 miles off the Chilean coast and tsunami warnings have been issued for Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand and Asia. Chile’s president, Michele Bachelet, declared a "state of catastrophe" in three central regions of the country. Several hospitals were evacuated and communications with Concepcion were knocked out.

In the capital city of Santiago, which is about 200 miles from the earthquake, IMB field personnel reported in a 5 a.m. e-mail that they had experienced "very scary shaking" and that electrical, telephone and water services were cut off. 

IMB and BGR leadership began consulting immediately during the early morning hours after the earthquake, said Scott Holste, associate vice president for the IMB’s Office of Global Strategy.

"We are evaluating damage reports as they come in and preparing initial response plans, if it is determined that a significant response is needed," Holste said. "Southern Baptists have ministry partners in Chile who will be able to help respond immediately with basic necessities."

"We know that immediate needs usually include things like food, water, shelter and medical needs," Brown said. "We have emergency response funds available to help with the crisis response. Southern Baptists always respond quickly when a disaster like this strikes. They pray and give from the heart. We’re glad to know so many people who care are ready to spring into action to help people in need."

Word has been received from IMB leaders in Chile that all field personnel have been accounted for and are safe; information about the impact on the Chilean Baptist community is being sought. IMB will be monitoring developments and will issue further announcements about needs and response as more information becomes available.

How You Can Help

Pray - Prayer is urgently needed for thousands of people in Chile whose lives have been upturned by a massive earthquake that struck in the early morning hours of Feb. 27, says an International Mission Board strategist closely tied to the area. “We want to ask Christians everywhere to lift up people in need after this huge disaster,” said Terry Lassiter, strategist for the American Peoples affinity group. “We thank the Lord that all of our missionaries are well but there has been a very significant loss of life that is going to affect both our church community and the non-Christian community in Chile.” Read more. For future prayer requests, also visit CompassionNet.

Donate - Donations may be directed to the Disaster Response Fund

In Alabama, Nick Saban Has More Facebook Fans Than God

Saw this headline and thought. . .Hmmm, Didn't know God had a Facebook Page.  Little did I know?

Well, apparently, some research has been done on this.  Why?  Who knows.  

God wins just about everywhere in the South except for Alabama, Louisiana and Florida.  Apparently, we like our Starbucks more.

Saban facebook

For the full article, you can click here

Great Awakening In Haiti

I just received this information from Dr. John Sullivan, Executive Director of the Florida Baptist Convention.  

Port-au-Prince--A reported 40,127 Haitians have made professions of faith in Jesus Christ since the Jan. 12 earthquake hit the impoverished nation, according to pastors and director of missions of the Confraternite Missionaire Baptiste d'Haiti (CMBH).

"Haiti is ripe for a spiritual movement from God," said Craig Culbreth, director of the Florida Baptist Convention Partnership Missions Department, which coordinates the work of the CMBH, upon his Feb. 22 return from Port-au-Prince.

During a Feb. 16-17 city-wide holiday observance in Cap Haitien, Haiti's second largest city, Culbreth saw, "thousands upon thousands filling the streets where people are seeking God and asking Him to spare them from what happened in Port-au-Prince. For me it was a New Testament expression of what it looks like when the Spirit of God shows up. I have never seen anything like it."

The reported conversions are not expected to translate into baptisms for several months.  The practice among Haitian Baptist churches is to require new converts to undergo several months of discipleship training to ensure the person understands their spiritual decision and the Biblical mandates for leading a Christian life.

Since the earthquake, the CMBH pastors have distributed 51 tons of rice which provided 437,750 servings to Haitians in both Port-au-Prince and outlying areas where refugees have fled. Additional feedings are expected.

The CMBH is the Florida Baptist Convention-funded partnership of nearly 900 Haitian Baptist churches serving across Haiti. Through this partnership the Florida Convention employs seven indigenous missionaries in six regions in the nation.   

During the week of Feb. 16-22, Culbreth was on his third trip to Haiti since the earthquake to determine how Florida and Southern Baptists could reach beyond the capital city of Port-au-Prince and meet needs of refugees who left the capital city.

Together, he and Dennis Wilbanks, associate in the Partnership Missions, have visited five of the six associations, conferring and praying with the directors of missions and Haitian pastors in the associations.

He compared this "window of opportunity where the people are hungry for the gospel to the U.S. after 9/11 when hundreds flocked to the churches."

Culbreth cited recent events in many of the 110 churches in the Port-au-Prince area where throngs of people have been seeking spiritual guidance in the church meetings, which have been held outdoors because the Haitians feared to enter buildings. Church leaders have reported 28,000 salvations in this Ouest (Port-au-Prince) association.

Many conversions took place during the three days of prayer and fasting called by the Haitian government, Feb. 12-14, reported Culbreth.

"People were in the streets, literally begging God for forgiveness and mercy," said Wilbanks, who was in Port-au-Prince at the time.

Professions of faith have been reported by Florida and Southern Baptist medical and disaster relief teams as these volunteers shared the gospel.

The upsurge in the reported conversions appears to fulfill a pre-earthquake vision by Louis LaBranche, CMBH director of ministry. "Pastor LaBranche said he had a vision of God telling him that 1.5 million Haitian will be saved in the next five years. He believes it and so do I," Culbreth said.

Culbreth traveled to Leogane, the epicenter of the earthquake which is located 18 miles west of the Haitian capital. "Reports said that 90 percent of the buildings have been destroyed, but I did not see a house that was not damaged. The roads are buckled and people are pouring out in the streets."

Culbreth was in Port-au-Price during the 4.7 magnitude aftershock Feb. 22, asserting that the Haitians continue to live in fear of their lives.

The next three months will be crucial to "reaping the harvest in Haiti," Culbreth said.  CMBH leaders are planning 14 area-wide crusades-two in each of five association and four in Port-au-Prince-during the next months. The Florida Baptist Convention has authorized $53,000 to purchase Bibles and tracts, and rent sound equipment for the Haitian leaders.

"This is their dream and vision," said Culbreth. "They are making the plans. We are only providing funding to make it happen."

Our own Fritz Wilson, Director of Disaster Relief for Florida Baptists and Jude Fontus, Associate Pastor of our Haitian Church here at the main campus will be leaving for Haiti this weekend.  Continue to pray for them as they minister to the people in this nation.

Also, as a reminder, our "Buckets of Hope" are due Sunday, March 14.  For more on the Buckets of Hope, click here.

Lukewarm People Defined

Yesterday I read some descriptions of lukewarm people from Francis Chan's book Crazy Love (available here.)   A number of folks wanted copies of the descriptions.  I know over twenty of our teenagers are going through Crazy Love in their Sunday night small groups not to mention the single adults and collegians who are going through this on Wednesdays.  I encourage you to get the book, but for those who wanted the descriptions of lukewarm people, here they are:

LUKEWARM PEOPLE attend church fairly regularly.  It is what’s expected of them, what they believe “good Christians” do, so they go.

LUKEWARM PEOPLE give money to charity and to the church . . . as long as it doesn’t impinge on their standard of living.  If they have a little extra and it is easy and safe to give, they do so.  After all, God loves a cheerful giver, right?

LUKEWARM PEOPLE tend to choose what is popular over what is right when they are in conflict.  They desire to fit in both at church and outside of church; they care more about what people think of their actions (like church attendance and giving) than what God thinks of their hearts and lives.

LUKEWARM PEOPLE don’t really want to be saved from their sin; they want only to be saved from the penalty of their sin.  They don’t genuinely hate sin and aren’t truly sorry for it; they’re merely sorry because God is going to punish them.  Lukewarm people don’t really believe that this new life Jesus offers is better than the old sinful one.

LUKEWARM PEOPLE are moved by stories about people who do radical things for Christ, yet they do not act.  They assume such action is for “extreme” Christians, not average ones.  Lukewarm people call “radical” what Jesus expected of all His followers.

LUKEWARM PEOPLE rarely share their faith with their neighbors, coworkers, or friends.  They do not want to be rejected, nor do they want to make people uncomfortable by talking about private issues like religion.

LUKEWARM PEOPLE say they love Jesus, and He is, indeed, a part of their lives.  But only a part.  They give Him a section of their time, their money, and their thoughts, but He isn’t allowed to control their lives.

LUKEWARM PEOPLE love God, but they do not love Him with all their heart, soul, and strength.  They would be quick to assure you that they try to love God that much, but that sort of total devotion isn’t really possible for the average person; it’s only for pastors and missionaries and radicals.

LUKEWARM PEOPLE love others but do not seek to love others as much as they love themselves.  Their love for others is typically focused on those who love them in return, like family, friends, and other people they know and connect with.  There is little love left over for those who cannot love them back, much less for those who intentionally slight them, whose kids are better athletes than theirs, or with whom conversations are awkward or uncomfortable.  Their love is highly conditional and very selective, and generally comes with strings attached.

LUKEWARM PEOPLE will serve God and others, but there are limits to how far they will go or how much time, money and energy they are willing to give.

LUKEWARM PEOLE think about life on earth much more often than eternity in heaven.  Daily life is mostly focused on today’s to-do list, this week’s schedule, and next month’s vacation.  Rarely, if ever, do they intently consider the life to come. 

LUKEWARM PEOPLE are thankful for their luxuries and comforts, and rarely consider trying to give as much as possible to the poor.  They are quick to point out, “Jesus never said money is the root of all evil, only the love of money is.”  Untold numbers of lukewarm people feel “called” to minister to the rich; very few feel “called” to minister to the poor.

LUKEWARM PEOPLE do whatever is necessary to keep themselves from feeling too guilty.  They want to do the bare minimum, to be “good enough” without it requiring too much of them.

LUKEWARM PEOPLE are continually concerned with playing it safe; they are slaves to the god of control.  This focus on safe living keeps them from sacrificing and risking for God.

LUKEWARM PEOPLE feel secure because they attend church, made a profession of faith at age twelve, were baptized, come from a Christian family, vote Republican, or live in America.

LUKEWARM PEOPLE do not live by faith; their lives are structured so they never have to.  They don’t have to trust God if something unexpected happens.  They don’t need God to help them.  They don’t genuinely seek out what God would have them live as.  They don’t depend on God on a daily basis.  The truth is, their lives wouldn’t look much different if they suddenly stopped believing in God.

LUKEWARM PEOPLE probably drink and swear less than average, but besides that, they really aren’t very different from your typical unbeliever.  They equate their partially sanitized lives with holiness, but they couldn’t be more wrong.

"Marriage" as Defined by Kids

OK, following yesterday's "love" definitions, these statements about marriage were sent to me.  Questions asked of kids:

1.  How do you decide whom to marry?

"You got to find somebody who likes the same stuff.  Like, if you like sports, she should like it that you like sports, and she should keep the chips and dip coming." - Alan, age 10

"No person really decides before they grow up who they're going to marry.  God decides it all way before, and you get to find out later who you're stuck with."  - Kristen, age 10

2.  What is the right age to get married?

"Twenty-three is the best age because you know the person FOREVER by then." - Camille, age 10

3.  How can a stranger tell if two people are married?

"You might have to guess based on whether they seem to be yelling at the same kids." - Derrick, age 8

4.  What do you think your mom and dad have in common?

"Both don't want anymore kids." - Lori, age 8

5.  What do most people do on a date?

"Dates are for having fun, and people should use them to get to know each other.  Even boys have something to say if you listen long enough." - Lynnette, age 8

"On the first date, they just tell each other lies and that usually gets them interested enough to go for a second date." - Martin, age 10

6.  When is it OK to kiss someone?

"When they're rich." - Pam, age 7

"The law says you have to be eighteen, so I wouldn't want to mess with that." - Curt, age 7

"The rule goes like this - if you kiss someone, then you should marry them and have kids with them.  It's the right thing to do." - Howard, age 8

7.  Is it better to be single or married?

"It's better for girls to be single but not for boys.  Boys need someone to clean up after them." - Anita, age 9

8.  How would the world be different if people didn't get married?

"There sure would be a lot of kids to explain, wouldn't there? - Kelvin, age 8

9.  How would you make a marriage work?

"Tell your wife that she looks pretty, even if she looks like a dump truck." - Ricky, age 10

"Love" as Defined By Kids

I have seen this before, but recently received it in my email.  Great truths "from the mouths of babes."

A group of 4 - 8 year olds had the question asked of them "What does love mean?"

The answers were broader and deeper than you could imagine.  Here are some. . .

"When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn't bend over and paint her toenails anymore.  So, my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too.  That's love." - Rebecca, age 8

"When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different.  You just know that your name is safe in their mouth." - Billy, age 4

"Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other." - Karl, age 5

"Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give any of theirs." - Chrissy, age 6

"Love is what makes you smile when you're tired." - Terri, age 4

"Love is when my Mommy makes coffee for my Daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK." - Danny, age 7

"Love is when you kiss all the time.  Then, when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more.  My Mommy and Daddy are like that.  They look gross when they kiss." - Emily, age 8

"Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen." - Bobby, age 7

"If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate." - Nikka, age 6

"Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well." - Tommy, age 6

"During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared.  I looked at all the people watching me and saw my Daddy waving and smiling.  He was the only one doing that.  I wasn't scared anymore." - Cindy, age 8

"My Mommy loves me more than anybody.  You don't see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night." - Clare, age 6

"Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken." - Elaine, age 5

"Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford." - Chris, age 7

"Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day." - Mary Ann, age 4

"I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones." - Lauren, age 4

"When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you." - Karen, age 7

"You really shouldn't say 'I love you' unless you mean it.  But, if you mean it, you should say it a lot.  People forget." - Jessica, age 8

Finally. . .

A four year old child's next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife.  Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman's yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there.  

When his Mother asked what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said, "Nothing.  I just helped him cry."

Love God.  Love people.  It's our calling.

Worst Valentine's Day Gift

Now, like most men, I'm not the most romantic person.  I mean, I thought my wife wanted that toaster oven for Christmas years ago.  Still, for Valentine's Day I stick with the traditional gifts - flowers, jewelry or even candy.

But, this gift may be the best, or worst ever.  Found this online listed as one of the worst Valentine's Day gifts.  Do any of you have this one in your home?

2 person toilet 

I guess it's for the couple that treasures their "together time."  Honestly, there are times when it's good to be alone.

No, my wife would not allow this in our home.