Archive for the ‘Pastor’ Category

15445658829_5b8245266e_bA number of years ago I began taking off my boots whenever I would preach. I never called attention to it; I simply did it.

For the most part, I’ve learned that it didn’t really make any difference to most people because they couldn’t see my feet while I was preaching anyway. For those who did, most generally did not ask me about it, but rather would either speculate why I did so or they would ask someone else.

Those who chose to speculate generally decided that I removed by boots because my feet hurt. Let’s deal with this first. While I do have a genetic circulatory issue (primary lymphedema), I don’t generally have pain associated with it. The lymphedema does call swelling in my calves, ankles, and feet, I don’t experience much discomfort. It just looks unsightly. I began wearing boots to cover the swollen ankles and to keep people from worrying about how big they were. While I enjoy wearing boots (and I rarely wear any other kind of footwear), my boots gave me some confidence because a negative aspect was covered.

However, the Lord convicted me concerning my pride when reading through the scriptures. In Exodus 3, Moses saw the burning bush and went to investigate it. God called out from the bush, “Moses, do not come near. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” The Holy Spirit convicted me of my pride in covering the part of my body that was not perfect. I didn’t want people to think less of me because of this physical deficiency. So one Sunday I removed my boots prior to going to the pulpit. Doing so serves to remind that when I am speaking for the Lord that I am standing on holy ground. I must look to Him and depend upon Him for the words that I will use. There’s a special urgency and a sense of unique importance in declaring each message that the Lord has given to me. Having removed my boots reminds me that I must never forget what the Lord has called me to do. Preaching His Word must never become a Sunday or Wednesday routine.

Removing my boots reminds me of the gravity of my calling and the reality of the one true God we worship. It reminds me that I am merely a tool in the Lord’s hands. It reminds me that I must depend on Him. It reminds me that no matter how much I have prepared in the study for the preaching moment, I must find my strength in the Lord alone.

 

 

Most every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings you will likely find me in the principal’s office. I meet with one of our high school principals to listen, to encourage, and to pray for him and the school.

However, this week I also learned something about how people are likely watching what we do and how  we act. In fact, I learned that people look for the details in our lives. This week the office assistants at one of the schools asked about my snuff! So I guess it’s time for me to go public about my habit, because while some have been courageous enough to ask me about my back pocket ring, others have not.skoal-ring

Let’s be clear: it’s not Skoal ring! It’s a breath mint ring. The backstory about carrying it the round container is not very exciting. I choose this particular breath mint because it comes in a plastic container. Other brands come in metal tins, and the mints rattle as I walk.

So there you have it. It’s not very exciting.

However, it does say something about the fact that people do pay attention to the smallest things and draw conclusions about us. Sometimes those conclusions are wrong.

This made me think about other things people notice about us. Do they pay attention to our actions, to they way we dress, to our conversations with other people, to places we go? Let me just say, “Probably so.” And the consistency of these various aspects of our lives converge to reveal the true nature of our character. Our testimony should be like that of Paul: “We can say with confidence and a clear conscience that we have lived with a God-given holiness and sincerity in all our dealings. We have depended on God’s grace, not on our own human wisdom” (2 Corinthians 1:12, NLT).

Does the nature of your character reveal that you live in holiness and sincerity in all your conversations and dealings with people? Remember that your testimony is built through your 24/7 life — not just what you do and say at church or when you think no one is looking.  And your testimony gives you the platform for sharing the good news and for leading people to faith in Christ.

These next few weeks will give you plenty of opportunities to invite your friends and family members to share the season of Christmas. At our church (Mandeville’s First Baptist Church), we have an evening of Christmas music next Sunday, December 4, at 6 o’clock. We have the annual live nativity on December 9-11. We have a Christmas Eve service at 4:30 pm on December 24 and a Christmas Day service at 10:00 am on Sunday, December 25.

Yet the thing that we really need to share a verbal witness of the good news of Jesus Christ. Each of us have someone in our lives who has not experienced salvation and would spend eternity in a godless hell. We need to focus prayerfully on that individual and pray for the opportunity that the Holy Spirit will provide. Share how you came to faith in Christ and how your life has been affected by Him. Then tell how they, too, can have this forever relationship with Jesus Christ.

By the way, having a mint ready in my back pocket makes those conversations more pleasant for everyone!

I’m sure you know the “five-second rule.” You know the idea that if you drop a delicious bite of food on the floor, dirt and germs don’t have enough time to contaminate it. Parents sometimes apply this rule to pacifiers, although I doubt that first-time parents would do so! The history of the five-second rule is difficult to trace. One legend attributes the rule to Genghis Khan, who declared that food could be on the ground for five hours and still be safe to eat.5-second-rule

But a recent experiment should permanently debunk the five-second rule. Professor Donald W. Schaffner, a food microbiologist at Rutgers University, reported that a two-year study concluded that no matter how fast you pick up food that falls on the floor, you will pick up bacteria with it. You can check it out for yourself in his journal article “Is the Five-Second Rule Real?” found in the always exciting Journal for Applied and Environmental Microbiology. (I did check it out. It’s a 22-page document complete with charts and scientific diagrams. Ugh!)

Professor Schaffner tested four surfaces — stainless steel, ceramic tile, wood, and carpet — and four different foods: cut watermelon, bread, buttered bread, and strawberry gummy candy. They were dropped from a height of five inches onto surfaces treated with a bacteria. The researchers tested four contract times — less than one second and five, thirty, and three hundred seconds. A total of 128 possible combinations of surface, food, and seconds were replicated twenty times each, yielding 2,560 measurements. So after those 2,560 drops they found that fallen food had not escaped contamination, leading Professor Schaffner to conclude, “Bacteria can contaminate instantaneously.” In other words, they debunked the legendary five-second rule.

My first reaction: Really? You actually conducted a two-year study on this? And why conduct any phase of this experiment for thirty seconds, let alone three hundred seconds?

Yet I will give Professor Schaffner credit for going to the effort of disproving the five-second rule rather than blindly accepting it as fact. And it makes me question other things that we blindly adopt without critical study. What cultural and lifestyle beliefs have you adopted without critical study? What theological ideas and beliefs have you assumed were true because someone told you they were true?

We live in critical times. We must be discerning. We must remain true to the Lord Jesus. There is no middle ground.

1  Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

2  By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God,

3  and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.

4  Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

5  They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them.

6  We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

1 John 4:1-6 (ESV)

Because of Jesus,

Ken Schroeder

Follow me on Twitter @kenschroeder

Awaken-America_FINAL_BlogAfter finishing up the second service last Sunday, I raced off the campus for home to grab the sandwich Gayla had ready for me. With bags in hand, we jumped into her car and Gayla drove us to the airport for a 3:00 flight. Although it ended up taking a couple of tries to make it to Houston (that’s a whole other story), we finally made to St. Louis just after midnight. As we made plans for this trip, we had made contact with Warren and Pat Greenwalt, former members of our church. Warren would pick us up at the airport, since Pat was flying from Dallas on Sunday evening. As it turned out, Pat’s flight had also been delayed, the Greenwalts still took us to our hotel. (And by the way, the four us sat together on Wednesday evening at a Cardinals game!)

Gayla and I attended the Southern Baptist Convention Pastors Conference on Monday. The music and preaching touched our souls, especially as Passion led the worship on Monday evening and Pastor Greg Laurie delivered us to the Word.

The SBC Annual Meeting began on Tuesday and concluded on Wednesday. With a  theme of “Awaken America: Reach the World,” I want to report that this convention encouraged me in so many ways. Our convention took steps to reaffirm biblical principles and to recommit its passion for personal evangelism. Three words describe the overall thrust of the meetings: agree, unite, and pray. We did much together to make these happen.

We also had an election for convention president. Ronnie Floyd of Cross Church in Northwest Arkansas was completing two years as president. Three pastors were nominated: David Crosby, FBC New Orleans; Steve Gaines, Bellevue Baptist, Memphis; and J. D. Greear, Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham. None of these godly men received the needed 50% plus 1 to win. Gaines and Greear were in a runoff.

The vote result was not announced until just ahead of the Tuesday evening time of worship and prayer for spiritual awakening. Gayla and I happened to be seated just behind Gaines. Only in a Baptist meeting with only two candidates would it be possible for neither to get a majority. Gaines received 49.96% of the votes while Greear received 47.8% because 108 votes were declared “illegal.” The bylaws require that all votes be counted towards the total, so Gaines was 3 votes short of a majority. We watched how Gaines reacted and how he would tell his wife as she joined him. We had the opportunity during the service to pray in a circle that included several of the Gaines family.

Later Gayla and I prayed that Greear would drop out, since Gaines was so close to winning the ballot. We also watched as someone tapped Gaines on the shoulder so that they could talk. Then Gaines returned to his seat and talked briefly with his wife before slipping out.

The time for next runoff ballot would occur just before 11am on Wednesday. As the convention hall began to swell with messengers as that time neared, we could feel the anticipation of something big. That something big came when Ronnie Floyd announced that he would recognize both J. D. Greear and Steve Gaines so that they could speak. Greear told the convention he prayed the night before and believed “we need to leave St. Louis united.” He made the motion for Gaines to be elected by acclamation. Gaines said, he, too had decided internally Tuesday night to withdraw but agreed to serve as president after a conversation with Greear. “There’s no way God is not doing something in all of this. I just wanted Jesus to be lifted high and the convention to be united.”

Just after Gaines had been elected by acclamation, Ted Traylor, pastor of Olive Baptist Church, Pensacola, preached the convention message from Psalm 133, the very passage to which the Holy Spirit drew Gaines and Greear the night before. The Lord gave us great unity.

I am so hopeful about our future. Would you join me in praying our church and our convention of churches as Gaines leads us to emphasize spiritual awakening, soul-winning, and stewardship?

The other evening while meeting with some men from our church, the subject somehow moved to the “Dollar Shave Club.” Surprisingly, I found the idea quite fascinating, so I have looked into a bit. Here’s the premise for the company (tongue in cheek!):

A man goes into a store to buy some razor blades, but they are locked up. He tries to get in, but it’s like robbing Fort Knox. No one is around to help, so he tries harder, which sets off alarms that lead to him being assaulted by the staff. Blow darts, punches to the stomach, and so forth. Then the tag line: “It’s like they don’t want you to buy razor blades.”

So when someone came along and offered a different way to buy razor blades, it struck a chord. According to the Wall Street Journal, web sales of razor blades though such companies as Dollar Shave Club, have doubled in the last twelve months alone. They have gone from no slice of the market to nearly ten percent, with little sign of slowing down. Through the first six of 2015, salves have already doubled over all of last year’s totals.

So how did a company like Dollar Shave Club, which did not even exist three years ago, storm onto the scene and take such a big bite out of a company like Gillette that has been in existence since 1901? That’s easy. Gillette and its distributors looked at things from their perspective and not the consumer’s. They made the experience of buying blades negative for shoppers. So when someone came along and listened to the consumer and then thought like a buyer and not a seller, they got a lot of buyers lining up to buy from them. You can only imagine the Dollar Shave Club people thinking, “Okay, people hate the way razors are sold, but stores don’t want them stolen. Let’s just rethink how to get them in people’s hands!” And they did.

In an article entitled “The Church Shave Club” in Church and Culture last month, Pastor James Emery White argues, “Too many churches look at things from the perspective from the inside.” But we need to take the time to look at things from the perspective of those who don’t know Christ. If we will make a forever difference in people, then we must learn to see things — not as seasoned church members and attenders — but as people who do not know Christ. After all, we don’t want to make it hard for people to come to know our Savior.

9781e9e0-c634-698e-112d-5c720e4c6430_TWDS4_Gallery_Rick-Fen.jpgA recent article in the Wall Street Journal says, “By all observable metrics, zombies are totally hot right now.” Another article claims that zombies have become “outrageously, staggeringly, mindblowingly popular … Not only do they top best-seller lists and video games and the iPad, the undead dominate television, too.” With nearly 16 million viewers, The Walking Dead, AMC’s hit TV show about a world dominated by flesh-eating zombies, nearly outperformed the 2014 Winter Olympics. World War Z, a movie about a zombie apocalypse starring Brad Pitt, has so far grossed over $540 million.

So what’s the big deal with this zombie craze? One expert on zombie lore, Dr. John Ulrich, Professor of English at Mansfield University, says, “At its most elemental level, of course, the zombie represents our fear of death.” Stephen Marche, a cultural critic who writes for Esquire magazine agrees, but as an atheist Marche offers some honest thoughts about zombies and our death-fears. In his article titled “Why Zombies Are Everywhere Now,” Marche writes:

“After seeing dozens of zombie movies, I’m convinced that the reason zombies are so powerful is that they capture an atheistic fear of the dead. I don’t just mean the fear of dead bodies, though that fear is there, too … materialistic atheism … does not provide a very comforting way to deal with the dead. Christians and others have prayer and visions of an afterlife … Atheists like myself have rotting corpses and oblivion. And zombie movies” [Esquire, 6/19/13].

While I do not wish to draw attention to the subject of zombies or the variety of unusual subject matter in recent movie releases, I believe that believers should capitalize on our culture’s focus on these matters. These are clear indications that many people in our culture want answers to the questions that are on their hearts. However, they cannot know the truth unless God draws them to Himself, and they cannot respond to God’s truth unless someone tells them.

Therefore, we must pray for those we know who do not know God through Jesus Christ. We must be ready to share how Jesus changed our lives (a less than 2-minute testimony) and how they can know God through Christ themselves. I believe that God wants all people to come to know Him; however, He has chosen to use people to carry this out.

For most of my pastoral ministry, I have used Prepare/Enrich in my premarital counseling and for helping married couples to enrich their marriages. A few years ago, I became a workshop facilitator so that I could help pastors have access to this good tool. Like any tool, it’s imperfect. However, Prepare/Enrich has helped me immensely as I prepare couples for marriage. I offer a couple of these workshops each year. Here’s the information about the next one: 

Prepare/Enrich Training Workshop for pastors and counselors
Tuesday, September 17, from 9:00am until 4:00pm

Mandeville’s First Baptist Church
Follow this link for more information and to register: http://bit.ly/1dawEFB
Registration deadline is September 9, 2013.

Prepare/Enrich provides you with the leading relationship assessment tool so that you can prepare a couple for success in marriage.  Helping couples with their relationships is no easy task. How do you encourage productive conversations? How do you address issues couples have if they are not yet aware of their problems? How do you identify their relationship strengths? What relationship skills can you teach to help couples resolve current issues and prevent future problems? How can you quickly understand a couple’s needs and maximize your impact?

For over thirty years, PREPARE/ENRICH has been the #1 guide for helping couples explore and strengthen their relationships. Built on a solid research foundation, PREPARE/ENRICH has been improved and refined over the years to become one of the best, most effective, easy-to-use relationship assessment tools available. PREPARE/ENRICH is a scientifically proven program that will help you make a significant impact in the life of a premarital or married couple. Whether you are a counselor, clergy, mental health professional, mentor or relationship educator, PREPARE/ENRICH is the ideal tool to help you do your job better. As with any sophisticated assessment, you need to get trained on how to administer and interpret the results for your couples.