Wednesday on the Coast

I usually post late at night or early in the morning, but just to mix things up a bit, here’s a late afternoon post. It’s been a pretty typical day on the Coast, but you won’t hear me complaining about that. This evening I plan to visit the funeral home and then head over to Central for Wednesday night services. We are watching the visual Bible’s Matthew, which I believe I have mentioned before. We’ll watch chapters 10-12 tonight.

The first work crew of the year had not called me lately, so I called the guy today. Turns out they decided to work further West down the Coast but had not communicated that to me. However, we have a crew coming from Paducah, KY that I didn’t know about. It all works out. Also Keith Verdan from Wisconsin is coming down next Saturday. This will be a third visit for this young college student. I appreciate his willingness to put his faith into action. It’ll be great to see the work crews coming in again. Aside from helping people get back in their homes, there is a great deal of commaraderie and fellowship that goes along with these visits.

 Today I met two different people who were looking for materials to rebuild their homes. For some time now we have had little to no materials, having used all that was donated to us. Funds are basically gone to purchase materials. So, we are facing some challenges there. The first person I met was a lady who had someone to put on her roof, but she needed some shingles. The second was a man who said he had some volunteers coming to work on his Moss Point home. He was out scrambling to get together some materials. As I gave him David Kilbern’s number he looked up to heaven with tears in his eyes and said something like, “I’ve finally gotten some help…Lord help me get some materials.” I could see that he sensed some hope of making progress very soon. I have no idea if we are able to help him or not.

Our greatest needs for the hurricane relief effort at this point are funds for materials. We also have a very clear need for flooring materials and those who can install them. Many people have come so far in their house, but the flooring is an obstacle to getting finished.  It is hard to hire someone who can do the work. There will be ongoing struggles such as these for a long time. I rode down a street a few days ago that still had several FEMA campers in the yards. In our neighborhood around the church there still are some, but many have been towed away. That does not mean that the work is over.

Soon I will begin a Monday night class that will be aimed at helping those who are struggling find some direction in life. I am not sure how it will go and I’ve looked at several different materials. I think part of the attraction and help the class will offer will be the time spent together recognizing that all of us sinners need God’s grace and His instructions for living.

As the darkness covers a chilled night on the Coast I want to thank you for reading and for caring. The encouragements that have come from friends and strangers has been a lifeline of hope for me and for others here. Would you be in prayer for the lost and hopeless here, and across our world. Jesus is the answer we all need, but there are so few seeking Him. They need His grace and know it in their hearts, but cannot let themselves believe. We need an awakening to our spiritual needs, even as our physical needs are being met.

***LINKS***

My e-buddy Glenn Zieglar marks his spot on the blog-net.

Students killing students. Whatever it takes, we much reach the youth of our culture.

“I’m Cooking Meth” … the answer to a deputy knocking on the door. Hey Tim, it was in Athens!

Gary Kirkendall raises the big questions about instrumental music in worship, and awaits answers…real answers.

You could ring in the new year … with a crack.

Bobby Valentine Heads West!

How About Having 44 People Over For Dinner?

Patrick Mead has new blog digs.

Thanks for reading,

JD

And So We Begin

Bobbie Lowe and John Dobbs on New Year’s Eve

 Here we are in 2007, fresh from fireworks and feasts. Some of us still have Christmas trees up, others have put them away for the next eleven months. It’s hard for us to remember the gifts we received. Most will head back to work or school tomorrow. Even as we look ahead with anticipation to the new year, we face the realities of today. Life as we knew it in 2006 isn’t much different so far. I will be reverting back to the South Beach Diet tomorrow after a holiday hiatus. That is at once exciting and depressing. Hey… that’s just the truth. I’ll try to focus on the exciting part.

On New Year’s Eve we were invited to a small dinner party at one of our member’s home in the country. I enjoyed so much sitting on the porch with Sonny Lowe and friends listening to them talk about old times and share memories. Bobbie had prepared a fabulous feast that I enjoyed too much! The Lowes read the blog often and they have been such encouragers over the years to me and to my family. Bobbie is so talented in so many ways. A holiday season doesn’t pass that she doesn’t show up at church with festive holiday clothes and all decorated up in such a way that it causes us all to feel like celebrating. As a cancer survivor, Bobbie does a compassionate and effective work with Camp Bluebird – a camp for those who are experiencing the dreadful disase. It is staffed by survivors and exists to give hope and cheer to the ill and downhearted. God has created in Bobbie the perfect person to do just that. Sonny says that all I ever write about on my blog is eating. I wonder what he’ll think about this post! ha! They have been members at Central for more than forty years.

After coming home from the country we went to our daughter and son-in-law’s home for some snacks (how was I supposed to eat more!), sitting on the couch with granddaughter Claire while we watched one of the worst movies ever made – The Cat in the Hat! But it was Claire’s desire to see it, so we suffered through. Robert had some fireworks ready for midnight and we enjoyed those as well.

New Year’s Day was a day for sleeping in! The Boswell’s invited us over for some black eyed peas, cabbage, corned beef, and some other things. Maggy and I just nibbled a bit there, knowing we were having the kids over for supper. We plan to watch 1988’s She’s Having A Baby. Nicole is carrying their first child together, which is going to be a boy. Joshua Blake is due in mid-February. So we thought it would be a great movie to watch together.

The reality of our daily lives caught our attention today as one of our elderly members passed from this life. Thurman was a wonderful man who always wore a smile. These past few years have been very difficult on him without his beautiful Sally, who was taken from us by cancer. She was never far from his mind and he spoke of her often. Sally was a marvelous Christian lady. Her dream was to see Thurman restored to faithfulness to the Lord before she died. She was so relieved when he turned his life back over to the Lord. And that is a comfort to those of us who remain. Thankfully, he did not suffer a long illness and passed peacefully. Please say a prayer for his daughters and their families.

I’d like to wish my Aunt Sissy a happy birthday. My mother tells me that her sister is 70 today. I think that’s awesome. She doesn’t look a day over 66. I actually haven’t seen her in several years and I would like to fix that sometime this year.

***Links***

I do not have many links tonight, but be sure to read Tim Archer’s post for today.

Bobby Valentine says ‘Goodbye’ to the land of beer and cheese.

Justin Buzzard points us to some Bible reading plans available on the internet.

Here’s a short video of Claire enjoying a  sparkler on New Years Eve.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqjUxJA9VpI]

Oh, and my mother didn’t really say her sister was 70 today. I just wanted to create some family drama!

My Capricious Resolutions

Tonight for your entertainment are my capricious resolutions for a new year.

1. I will complete a Sudoku puzzle correctly. Just one.

2. I will walk three miles every afternoon….to Arbys.

3. I will read all of Sue Grafton’s alphabetical mysteries. (Y is For Yeah Right).

4.  Everything I eat will be good for me.

5. I will do research on the health benefits of York Peppermint Patties and Hershey’s Kisses.

6.  I will get all available season episodes of LOST and watch them back to back.

7. I will leave my Christmas tree up and just decorate it for each season.

8. I will trade in my uncool van for a white Jaguar.

9. I will open up an Outback Steakhouse franchise in Pascagoula which will be wildly successful and make me rich.

10. I will wake up one morning and be thin and no longer interested in food.

Mailbag and Makeover

It’s Saturday, and a holiday weekend. So I know that means blog readers will be challenged to spend much time perusing the posts. However, I will press on with a few items just in case someone stops by to say howdy. We do have some relief workers from Eva, Alabama here again. Wonderful folks who have come several times trying to help an elderly lady just down the street from the church get back into her home. It will not be long until volunteers begin pouring in again and the work will continue. Now for a few items of interest…

MAILBAG. We received several Christmas cards this year with sweet notes in them. We appreciated each one. I am not sure people send cards like they used to. We basically keep a list of those who sent cards and try to return the love each year, but we do not send a card to everyone we know.

We did receive an interesting envelope in the church mail recently. It had two A. G. Hobbs tracts in it. However there was no explanatory note, no return address, and no indication at all who sent it. I suppose I am to read the little blue booklets and gain some insight that is needed? I have no idea, and I have no respect for anonymous posts or letters.

We also received a three page letter from a family that has worked down here extensively. One of the children made the effort to tell about their family and why it meant so much for them to work down here. I was so moved by this letter and it’s contents. There was a request to ‘not announce it with trumpets’, so that’s all I can really say. I can say it was a big blessing to my heart, though.

 MAKEOVER. Several months ago I did a tongue-in-cheek jab at church marketing called “28 Days To a Total Church Makeover”. Dee Andrews has suggested that I run this again, as she thought it was great. So, for Dee, I’ll run it again.

 *****

28 Days To a Total Church Makeover

Why wait 40 days? My new program uses a streamlined enhanced formula that produces extreme discipleship in less time with less hassle than the other more popular church programs. Because we only focus on 28 days, the program fits nicely into any month of the year. The simplicity of this program will astound you, especially when you begin to feel like you have really made progress in your spiritual journey. I can’t give you all of the details here, but just to get you off on the right foot, here is a list of the items for purchase per member:

*28 Days to Total Church Makeover the book, for each member of your church.

*28 Video Devotionals For Daily Church Makeover featuring my impressive spiritual thoughts for conviction and convenience.

*28 Days To Total Church Makeover Journal so that you can write down all of the progress you are making. Later, these reflections will let you know just how important all of this was.

*28 Days to Total Church Makeover for Kids on DVD. Don’t leave the kiddos out.

*28 Days to Total Church Makeover T-Shirts and Hats. This will help you keep the message of the Bible close to your heart.

*28 Days to Total Church Makeover Live Seminar via satellite linkup. Coming soon to an evangelical church near you.

*28 Days to Total Church Makeover the subscriber internet site with lots of downloads.

*28 Days to Total Church Makeover for women.

*28 Days to Total Church Makeover diet plan.

*28 Days to Total Church Makeover budget planner.

*28 Days to Total Church Makeover Guide to Obscure Bible Prayers. Never heard of these prayers before? We will study them word by word to find powerful prayers that we can repeat over and over so that you can have fabulous results.

*28 Days to Total Church Makeover capital fund raising campaign. Learn how to make members understand the fantastic energizing principle of guilt giving.

All of this and much more for a total investment of $2,000 per member. You may be wondering how we keep the cost so low. Our commitment is to genuine ministry and sincere service. You’ll look back with pride at this momentous decision. At no additional charge, if you will place your order today, when you are through our wonderful telemarketers will call you relentlessly for months on end to convince you to purchase 28 MORE DAYS TO TOTAL CHURCH MAKEOVER.

*****

I hope you have a great weekend. Tomorrow: my capricious resolutions.

Happiness

Bud Garrison & John Dobbs

Yesterday’s highlight, for me, was getting a phone call from my friend Bud. I met Bud and Cathy after Katrina, even though they live down the street from me. They have been attending worship at Central for several months now. When I taught a class called “Welcome to Central”, Bud communicated to me that he was thinking about being baptized, but that he would think it through thoroughly before making any big decisions. In the intervening months, I have fallen in love with this wonderful couple. Cathy has cooked and worked with volunteers and is very involved in service projects involving the community. Bud is always an encourager, and knows how to keep everyone’s spirits lifted. He is a Bible studier, blog reader, and avid golfer. I know the Garrisons wouldn’t want me to tell you that they cooked and provided Christmas dinner for a trailer park with several damaged trailers that people are living in.  The thing I like about Bud and Cathy is that they do not do these things so that others will think highly of them. They do them quietly, as all servants do. Well, the phone call was Bud’s request to be baptized. So yesterday afternoon we met at our building and Bud obeyed the gospel of Christ. I am so grateful for the way God has used this horrible storm to bring together so many people to his glory. Bud wrote in a comment on a blog post, “Yesterday I came home from baptism and a feeling of deep calm and happiness I have never experienced came over me and still remains; not giddiness but the confidence of Gods love and guidance for me. My prayer is for all the people with demons to find the love of God that I have realized. My mission is to share that love and to spread the word of Jesus.” Amen!

Last night after John Robert got off of work, we went over to D’Iberville to have a late supper and go to a movie. We settled on The Pursuit of Happyness. Will Smith portrays the true story of Chris Gardner, a father who finds himself and his five year old son homeless. Chris works hard to get an internship with a stock brokerage firm and achieves that goal. However, that means he must work for six months, with no pay, and only have a chance to get a permanent job with the firm. The movie portrays something that David Kilbern and I talk about often. When you are down in your life (financially, mentally, otherwise) and you are trying to get back on your feet, it takes so little to knock you back down.

Have you ever thought what you would do if you and your children were on the streets and it was night time, and there was no place to go to sleep? Of course the first thing that comes to my mind is that I belong to a great church family and I could call on them for help and shelter. True. And my family did live with three other families after Katrina. But that was a special circumstance. How many of our homes are open to homeless jobless people that may never leave once they get in – even people we know? We might be available for a night or two, but that does not solve the situation. I like the way the movie presents the shelter situation. There are not enough shelter beds available for the number of homeless people that exist. How many churches of Christ have homeless shelters? No, you can’t take the easy way out and think that the church will take care of you.

Let’s face it, life on the street is unthinkable to most of us. We have no clue what it’s like to sleep standing up in a doorway or under a park bench. We do not know what it is like to know that we cannot care for our own children or provide the essentials of life for them. And we do not comprehend at all the immense struggle it is to escape this lifestyle. I hope you are reading HOMELESS MAN SPEAKS.  There’s some honest insight into the problem for you. “Get a Job” is good advice. Who can provide food and shelter on minimum wage? Many of us are barely hanging on month to month and earn much more than that.

So what is the Kingdom response to all of this? And why are we building fancy and beautiful facilities that look like palaces? Do we think God is impressed with our chandeliers and stained glass? And do we think that smelly unshaven homeless men with dirty clothes would feel welcomed into a place like that? What if every church in America had a place for ten people to sleep, eat, and shower each night. Would that make a dent in the problem? What if every church in America operated a free daycare for single parents who make minimum wage? And we haven’t even started to think about the plight of our senior citizens in America. I’ve got lots of questions, but few answers. As LARRY JAMES points out, this is a kingdom issue.

So, I liked the movie The Pursuit of Happyness. It is a true story of struggle and triumph, but maybe it lets us off the hook a little too easy.  The issues of homelessness, inadequate daycare for children, the impact of poverty on marital relationships, the shame of poverty, and the willingness to work hard for our dreams are all key to the greatness of this film. While I do not decry happy endings, I do think we might be tempted to believe that if we just sacrifice and work hard, everything will be OK in the end. For most homeless people, this is not the reality. Did you see the movie? What did you think?