A KBC Boy from CU, SWBTS, SBTS and back to CU with No Problems Whatsoever

In the midst of a rather weighty and public dialogue happening between Campbellsville University and the Kentucky Baptist Convention, I wanted to shore up a few personal things about my experience as a Campbellsville student (’99 alumnus) and as a CU School of Theology faculty member since 2008.

I can’t speak for everyone who has been through our doors, but here are the indisputable, unshakeable facts about my personal experience at CU and connection with the KBC.

- I was saved and baptized in a rural KBC church in 1987 – the Lewisport Baptist Church in Lewisport, KY – through the ministry of VBS.  I have been a member of KBC church every year of my born-again Christian life, except while in TX during seminary.

- My home church supported my decision to go to Campbellsville University in the mid-90’s and even helped me financially.

- My personal faith in Christ exploded while at CU.  My understanding and belief in the Bible grew 10-fold.  My love for taking the Gospel to the unreached peoples of the world “blew up” while studying here.  My call to ministry was significantly nurtured and encouraged.  The opportunities to serve in KBC churches and in God’s kingdom through all sorts of ministries was enhanced and elevated simply because I was at CU.

- After CU, I studied at Southwestern Baptist Theo. Seminary in Fort Worth, TX.  There wasn’t one thing at SWBTS that made me question my academic experience at CU.  It only added to what was already there – biblically, theologically, philosophically, and practically – everything was in line.

- While in seminary, I served in two SBC churches as youth minister.  In those churches I used what I learned at CU and from SWBTS without having to modify any of my core convictions or theological roots.  They were perfectly in line with traditional Baptistic ways.

- After seminary, I served a KBC church in Northern KY.  Again, no problems whatsoever theologically, biblically or practically.  My training at CU combined with SWBTS was in sync with kingdom-building, Gospel-expanding principles of leadership and strategy.

- As I began my doctoral studies at the Southern Baptist Theo. Seminary, again there were no problems whatsoever.  Actually, what I had learned at CU, plus SWBTS, plus in practical church experience made my SBTS time even more fruitful.  There were no snickers that a CU guy was studying at SBTS.  Even as I finished at SBTS and started my first year teaching at CU, no one said a word.  No one hinted of any problems.  All in all, everything was positive as far as I could tell.

- Six years ago when I came to CU to be considered for a position in the School of Theology, I was asked lots of questions.  My theology, biblical interpretation, methodology, experience, and practice of the spiritual disciplines were all questioned in the interview process.  Not because I was a risky candidate, but because that is what we do with everyone who is considered.

- In the 6 years I have been in the classroom, I have never been told to do anything other than teach biblical truths with my theological convictions openly and honestly before my students Everyone knows where I stand on things and that has never been a problem.  Again, no issues whatsoever.

- In addition to teaching, CU leaders have overwhelmingly embraced and encouraged me to continue serving in KBC churches.  I have served four KBC churches as interim pastor: Parkway BC, Bethany BC, Lancaster BC and Hurstbourne BC.  There has never been any issues with me being a CU, SWBTS, SBTS and KBC guy.  Again, no issues whatsoever.

- Lastly, my wife is nearing the completion of her Ph.D. from SBTS in Family Ministry and has taught five classes at CU as an adjunct instructor.  Again, no problems or issues whatsoever.

Are you seeing a running theme?  In summary, we are, and have always been, KBC connected.  My family are, and will continue to be,  members of a KBC church.  I will hopefully, if God wills, continue serving as an interim pastor in KBC churches.

Some have said CU hasn’t changed.  I disagree.  If anything, CU is more KBC connected now than ever before.

Obituary for Crystal Danielle (Garrison) Horton

Jan. 13, 1980 – Jul. 15, 2014

Crystal Smith Horton

Crystal Danielle (Garrison) Smith – 1/13/80 – 7/15/14

Crystal Danielle Horton, 34, passed away on Tuesday, July 15, 2014 at her residence. Crystal was born in Hardinsburg on Sunday, January 13, 1980 to Danny (Denise) Garrison of Lewisport and Donna Sue (O’Neal) Wall of South Carolina. Crystal worked at Whitworth Tools and Subway in Hardinsburg. She was an active member of Hardinsburg Methodist Church and was a 1998 graduate of Breckenridge County High School.

Her greatest joy was spending time with her children and family. Crystal is preceded in death by her fraternal grandfather, Ivan Garrison; her fraternal grandmother Ozella Hines, and her maternal grandmother, Dolly Mattingly.

Crystal is survived by her parents Danny and Denise Garrison of Lewisport and Donna Sue and O’Neal Wall of Plum Branch, South Carolina; a son, Connar Smith, and a daughter Haley Smith, both of Hardinsburg.

She is also survived by her brothers, Chris Garrison of Lewisport, Shane (Jennifer) Garrison of Campbellsville, and Justin Wall of South Carolina; her grandfather, Paul Mattingly of Hardinsburg and her grandmother, Sue Hill of Lewisport.

She is also survived by her step-brother, Ryan Williamson of Hawesville; her step-sisters, Kelly (Keith) Cambron of Lewisport, and Rhonda (Steve) Wininger of Jasper, Indiana; her aunts, Sheila Dowell Priest of Hardinsburg, Bonnie (Jim) Yocum of Louisville, Missy James of Lewisport, Lucy (David) Terrell of Owensboro; and uncles Ernie Garrison of Lewisport and Keith (Serita) Dowell of Custer, Ky., as well as several nieces, nephews and cousins.

Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Taylor-Wood Funeral Home in Lewisport (295-3312). Visitation is from 2:00 to 8:00 P.M. Friday and after 9:00 a.m. Saturday followed by Crystal’s funeral service at 11:00 a.m. in the funeral home chapel.

Burial will follow in Lewisport Cemetery. Bro. Greg Shannon and Dr. Shane Garrison will officiate.

Proud Papa, A Father’s Day Reflection

phillies

The 2014 CYB Phillies – Pee Wee League Champs. Isaac is on the second row, third from left.

My 8 year old son Isaac and his Pee Wee baseball team, the Phillies, are league champs, but that is not what is making this Father’s Day special.

They had a great year with a 13-2 record in the regular season, winning the league championship, and going into the year-end tournament a #1 seed, but that is not what is making this Father’s Day special.

Isaac learned more about baseball than we could have ever imagined.  At the beginning of the season he could barely throw 5 feet away and couldn’t catch a thing.  He was terrified to hit, run, or have a ball hit is way.  I am not exaggerating.

As an 8 year old who had never cared one day about baseball, he really only wanted to play because his 6 year old brother was stealing some of the spotlight.

From the very beginning, we knew he was in for a very different experience.  He was really challenged by the coaches to figure the game out.  Every rule, position, strategy, and technique of baseball was completely foreign to him.  He and I started playing Mario Super Slugger on the Wii just he could figure out the names of the positions and how you got an out.

Everything he learned about baseball, from the rules to how to swing a bat to how you run the bases, was all brand new and completely from scratch.  We played and practiced a lot in the backyard.  He did great, but that is not what is making this Father’s Day special.

He has a little plague now in his room that declares the world that he was on the 2014 Campbellsville Youth Baseball Pee League championship team, but that is not what is making this Father’s Day special.

This Father’s Day is special because on Sunday, the day before the championship game, my son Isaac leaned over to his mother during our invitation at church and said, “Mommy, I need to be saved.”

When he and his momma came to me in the front, my son was gripped by the conviction of the Holy Spirit.  This was not him doing something we wanted, this was him saying “I need Jesus in my life as my personal savior.”

We have been talking and discussing this for quite sometime.  But this was his decision.  We knew nothing about it.  We had no clue it was coming like it did.

My Isaac, my little laughter, who is named for the son of Abraham and Sarah, a child of promise, a child of a new heritage, a child that God gave to begin a new spiritual legacy, is now and will forever be my brother in Christ.

That is making this Father’s Day very, very special.

When a Son Baptizes a Father

One of the greatest memories of my life. I love you Dad.

 

My Experience as a Campbellsvillian

Teaching in Druien Hall.

Rampant news has been swirling – some true, some false – about my alma mater and employer Campbellsville University with specific attention directed toward my area the CU School of Theology.

I have not had any desire to pour more fuel on this raging fire and have actually encouraged my students to stay out of the fray, however, I have been encouraged to speak about my experience at CU as a student back in the 90’s in the School of Theology.

I offer three truths about my alma mater and school.

1.  As a student, this place changed my life forever by exposing me to Christ, to his calling for my life, to the truthfulness of Scripture, to the ministry of serving others as unto the Lord, to the task of taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth, and to the role of loving people who are from every Christian tradition.  As I had the opportunity to serve Christ in closed countries, in major urban centers, and down dirt paths, I learned that you shouldn’t get too bothered about who is a Methodist and who is a Baptist.  You are just happy to serve alongside people who, like you, love Jesus and want to tell others about Him.

2.  As a student, I was trained by great men and women of God who loved Jesus, His Word, the Gospel and the mission of the church.  Faithful men like Dr. Ted Taylor who has served 40+ years in local church ministry and Dr. John Hurtgen whose passion for the New Testament and Christian fellowship are as evident today as they were back then.  Also outstanding Christian women and scholars like Dr. Paula Qualls who loved the Old Testament more than anyone I’ve ever met and showed me how to love it as well.

3.  As a student, I formed lifelong friendships with many brothers and sisters in Christ who are now serving around the world as missionaries and in our nation as pastors and ministers.  These friendships continue to model one of the School of Theology core values: partners in enduring fellowship.

Lastly, I want all to know that I came to faith in Jesus through the ministry of a KBC church in Lewisport, KY.  I was baptized, discipled and called to ministry in a KBC church.  I have served on two KBC church staffs.  I have been an interim pastor for four KBC churches.  I have four CP-supported theological degrees – one from CU, two from SWBTS and one from SBTS.  I am a Southern Baptist and KY Baptist through and through.

I believe the Bible is true.  I believe the Gospel is the only means of salvation.  I believe that my role as a man, husband, father, pastor, and professor is to offer and explain this glorious Gospel to every person I meet.   These biblical convictions have never been questioned or prevented while attending, or now while teaching, at CU.  They have only been encouraged and enhanced.  I have a platform that most pastors never have.  I get to teach unbelieving young men and women the Gospel in class every day and they have to come and listen.  This is a wonderful mission.

I am proud to be a small part of the CU story.  I love my alma mater and employer.

Back to the Big City

Back in 2010-11, I had the great honor of being called interim pastor of Bethany Baptist Church in Louisville.  We met and served alongside wonderful people for that year.  We loved getting to travel to the big city of Louisville each Sunday and eat breakfast at Whole Foods and then maybe another cool place for lunch.  We could run to the mall, go to Target, eat Krispy Kreme donuts, and drink Starbucks coffee from a real store, not just the little kiosk we have on our campus.

hurstbourne bc

Hurstbourne Baptist Church, Louisville

Well starting yesterday, January 26, we are back in the Big City for a new season of ministry.  I have been called to serve as interim pastor of Hurstbourne Baptist Church over in the St. Matthews area.

We have already come to love this congregation, having spent about a month with them back in 2013.

HBC has a great ministerial staff, men and women who love the Lord Jesus and love people as Jesus would.  The congregation is made up of multiple generations, both young and old.  We have an active ministry to kids and families all the way through teenagers and young adults.

One of the things I especially love about this place is their desire to be missional in the Jefferson country region by serving regularly at the Baptist Fellowship Center, teaching weekly ESL classes, and serving in all sorts of local mission projects.  If there is a mission project to be a blessing to another group of people, they are usually right on top of it.

We also have a Korean church, KY Vineyard Community Church, led by a wonderful pastor Young Choi and his wife Youn, who is also our church pianist, that meets each Sunday @ 1:00 pm.

I am so excited about this opportunity and season of ministry back in the Big City.  If you live in the Louisville area and are looking for a church home, we would love for you to come and visit us at Hurstbourne Baptist.  Our Sunday morning service starts at 10:45 am.  You can find more information at HurstbourneBC.org.

Its a Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown vs. The Charlie Brown Christmas Special

I am making a bold prediction today.  I predict that Its a Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown will outlast and outrun The Charlie Brown Christmas Special in network TV airtime.

First some history.  Its a Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown was first aired in 1966 as part of three yearly holiday Peanuts TV specials created and produced by Mr. Charles M. Shultz.  The Charlie Brown Christmas Special aired one year earlier in 1965.  Both have run continuously since.

charlie brown pumpkin

It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown airs October 31st on ABC, 8/7c

Its a Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown will air tomorrow evening, October 31st, 2013 at 8/7c on ABC.  The Charlie Brown Christmas Special will certainly run sometime during the Christmas holiday season.  But for how long?

The main difference between the two holiday specials is found in one particular scene from the Charlie Brown Christmas Special.

Now infamously known as Linus’ Speech about the meaning of Christmas (see video below), the Christmas special has a uniquely Christian message.

It is the message that Christmas is not about presents, trees, Santa Claus or Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (no offense to Rudolph).  It is about the baby being born in Bethlehem, Jesus Christ, to the virgin named Mary,  while shepherds lay watching their sheep, angels singing “glory in the highest” and a bright star pierces the night sky.

Linus calls our attention back to the real meaning of Christmas, not the shopping spree, Black Friday craziness with a Griswold-like decorated house complete with strobe lights and Mannheim Steamroller background music.  Linus’ message is simple, to the point, and distinctly Christian.

I simply do not see ABC (or any other major network) continuing to air a special with this clear and present description of Christian, biblical principles to an American audience that is progressively more and more antithetical to such teaching.

Its a Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown has little or no spiritual significance, which makes it more amiable to a more pluralistic society.  Actually with Halloween now eclipsing Easter and Thanksgiving as the No. 2 most celebrated holiday in America, it might be more interesting than ever to TV viewers.

In all, our culture is being stripped of all vestiges of Christian symbols, principles, and sentiments.  Charles Shultz was a born-again Christian.  He allowed his faith to find its way onto the comic strips that made him famous.  This continued in 1965 (consider that is now nearly 50 years ago) when he created the storyline for the Christmas special.  I honor him as a creator who sparked our imagination with great characters, stories, and obvious biblical principles.  Thank you Mr. Shultz.  You were a visionary and a prophet.

But what if a new cartoonist attempted the same thing in 2013?  Would a clearly, overtly Christian message be attempted and aired on a major TV network as a children’s special?  I seriously doubt it.

That is why It’s a Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown will outrun and outlast its Christmas counterpart.  Maybe not this year, but coming soon to a TV listing near you.

Who Do You Really Work For? Part 2

Because I work, I am…

  • I am a better husband to my wife.
  • I am a better time manager.
  • I am a wiser steward of God’s resources.  It all belongs to Him.
  • I am a more generous person because I have something to give away.
  • I am a better example to my sons of manhood, fatherhood, and husbandry.
  • I am a stronger contributor to my local church.
  • I am a more invested member of my local community.
  • I am given opportunities to use my strengths and improve upon my failures.
  • I am exposed to different people than my normal circle would provide.
  • I am given a chance to use my talents as unto the Lord.
  • I am participating in something outside of myself.
  • I am less self-centered and more collaborative.
  • I am taught humility and servant-leadership.
  • I am given a platform to make a difference in the lives of others.
  • I am blessed with resources to provide for the wants and needs of my family.
  • I am given a chance to see the world through others’ eyes.

Because I work, I am growing in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man (Luke 2:52).

Who Do You Really Work For?

workrailroad

“I’ve Been Working On…”

Over the weekend, I was able to listen to Dr. David Platt from The Church at Brook Hills preach an amazing sermon called “The Cross and the Christian’s Work” on the meaning of work in the life of the believer (Listen here).

Several key passages were very meaningful to me, but two in particular that I wanted to share.

  • Colossians 3:23-24  Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

Whatever your job may be, whatever position, occupation, or means of making an income you have, work it in such a way as to serve the Lord Jesus Christ as an act of worship.  Everyday on the job, make it your mission to work as an act of devotion and honor to Christ, not to a man, a boss or even a company.

Certainly you are getting rewards in the form of a paycheck, benefits, vacation days, experience, and the like, but there are other rewards at stake – eternal rewards.  Your eternal reward is an inheritance of eternal life though the atoning sacrifice of Jesus, which propels us to do our job “heartily” as unto Him, not satisfactorily to just get by.

Ask yourself this question:  If Creator God was your direct supervisor at work, how would your annual evaluation be this year?  Did you work heartily for Him?  Did you worship Jesus by doing your job with excellence, diligence, competence, and integrity?

The second passage is comparable.

  • 1 Timothy 5:8  But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

Our call to provide and care for our families, through the resources provided by our work, is an outward witness of our faith in Christ.  By not providing for our families, the Apostle Paul equates a denial of the faith and being “worse” than an unbelieving person.

Dr. Platt was quick to point out that those suffering from chronic illness or debilitating disease are not commanded to work when their bodies simply won’t cooperate.  Additionally, this is not a command for children, teens, or students preparing in school and college for their working careers.  But for those who are able physically and mentally to work and hold the responsibility of provision for their families, there is a call to get up and go to work.

The job, task or the amount paid for the work is not a factor.  We need to work and provide for our families because it holds up the witness and testimony of God’s saving grace in our lives.

I wrote these thoughts in my journal back in May 2013.

Why Does My Work Matter to God?  What Does It Produces in Me?

  • Work gives me a sense of individual purpose and direction. Not divine purpose and direction, but purpose and direction nonetheless.
  • Work provides for our families needs and wants and gives me the ability to make financial investments in kingdom work.
  • Work creates an opportunity for the spiritual discipline of stewardship to grow in me.
  • Work creates an opportunity for spiritual gifts like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and definitely self-control (Gal. 5:22-23) to be birthed in me.
  • Work builds in me a pattern of suffering, character, hope, endurance, and perseverance in good times and in bad (Romans 5:3-5).
  • Work provides an opportunity for me to witness to unbelievers both verbally and visually (Matthew 5:16).
  • Work teaches me how to be a life-long learner, a good steward of other people’s stuff, a manager of people & time, and to be a leader, trainer and equipper of future generations.  All of these traits are be transferable to ministry within the local church.
  • Work helps me learn to lean on God’s provision by using the talents, gifts, interests, passions, and skills He gave to me to be best used for His glory and great name.

I love my job, there is no question about it, but I know I am the rare breed.  Most people dislike or barely tolerate the work they do.

But possibly if your perspective shifted so that you began to see your work as a gift from God, you might start to love it more.  You might even be able to see God as the one you work for, not just a paycheck.  I promise you, He is the best boss you’ll ever have.

Fall 2013 Ministry Preview

fall leavesThe fall school year has officially started.  My classes are packed.  I am really excited about this semester and how God is going to work in and through my students.

Along with school, the Lord has been so faithful and kind to opened several opportunities to encourage folks here in KY and around the nation.

Here is a snapshot of the fall ministry plans.

  • Through September – Preaching each Sunday morning at the Hodgenville Christian Church.  Helping out my new friend and pastor Bro. Carlton Puryear as he takes a few weeks off.
  • Sunday, Sept 15 – Leading “The Calling of Every Christian Parent” workshop at Ormsby Heights Baptist Church in Louisville.  Joining my long-time friends Pastor Steve and Michelle McKelvey, who serve on the staff there.
  • Sunday, Sept 22-25 – Preaching the fall revival for Stanford Baptist Church.  I will be joined by some great worship leader friends: Caleb Phelps, Kristina Critcher, CU Sound, and my old friend from Lancaster BC, the one and only Nehemiah Wilkinson.
  • Oct. 8-9 – Jennifer and I will be leading 3 breakout sessions for the LifeWay Christian Resources Kids Ministry Conference in Nashville, TN.  We will be teaching: 1) Teaching Children Contemplatively, 2) The Full Spectrum of Family Ministry Models, and 3) Memory Makers.  This will be our first time to lead together as a couple.
  • Oct. 13, 20 and Nov. 3, 10, 17 – Preaching Sunday mornings at Hurstbourne Baptist Church in Louisville, KY.
  • Oct. 27 – Preaching for Campbellsville University Day at Lancaster Baptist Church in Garrard Co.  I can’t wait to visit my dear friends at LBC.  I have missed them greatly over the past year.

And I am getting ready for another huge January, February and March, 2014.

In January and February, I will be joining the LifeWay VBSi Team again at Ridgecrest, Nashville, Fort Worth, and Kissimmee, FL as we train over 6000 VBS leaders from across North America.  I will be preaching during the main worship service and leading a breakout session.

And then in March, I get the great privilege of traveling back to Israel and Jordan for the second time in 5 years as part of the Campbellsville Univ. School of Theology Holy Land Tour.  This time I will be joined by my dad and brother in Christ, Danny Garrison, along with many CU faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends.  Space is available, if you are interested in joining us.

I would really covet your prayers for me, Jennifer, the boys, and these opportunities to preach and teach about our Great God and Savior Jesus Christ.

10 Years Ago Today

Ten Years LaterTen years ago today, July 24, 2003, was a very different time for Jennifer and I.  Ten years ago today I had just turned 26. Jennifer had turned the big 2-6 a couple months earlier.  We were leaving the early twenties and entering the late twenties.  I promise you it is a significant life shift going from the 18-25 category to the 26-35.

But things were very different for us 10 years ago.

  • 10 years ago we had only been married for 14 months.  Just newly weds.
  • 10 years ago we were living in the original cow town, funky-town Fort Worth, TX.  Home of more steaks and fajitas than a man could ever eat.  Glory!
  • 10 years ago we lived in a 525 sq. ft. barracks-like, seminary apartment, which has since been demolished and been replaced with beautiful condo-style apartments. (Jealousy)
  • 10 years ago we were both finishing seminary, both taking full loads, both studying and writing papers, plus working to pay the tuition bills.
  • 10 years ago we had no children.  We were DINKs – Dual Incomes No Kids.  We actually bought clothes for ourselves.
  • 10 years ago I drove a turquoise blue Mercury Contour (called the Aquarium), Jennifer drove a white one.  Neither of them were paid for and both were pieces of junk.
  • 10 years ago I was the youth minister of Trinity Baptist Church.  We had just came back from a mission trip to Denia, Spain and youth camp at Falls Creek, OK.  Those were wonderful days.
  • 10 years ago Jennifer was the primary bread winner of our family working as a Case Manager for Cornerstone Comprehensive Care Prog. (3CP) – one of the finest non-profit organizations in the nation.
  • 10 years ago I was hoping a church would consider me for a full-time ministry position.  I was sending resumes all over the country and getting no response.   I was willing to follow God’s leadership any where he wanted us to go, but nothing was turning up.

And now 10 years later, much has changed.

We left Fort Worth in December 2003, moving to Alexandria, KY and then to Campbellsville in 2008.  I did get a full-time ministry position at one of the best churches in KY, Main Street Bapt. Church, and then a faculty position at my alma mater Campbellsville Univ.

God blessed Jennifer and I with two beautiful, healthy baby boys, Isaac and Ethan.  One looks just like his momma and one looks just like his daddy.  We’ve made it 11 years together in what I consider to be a very healthy marriage, with our share of bumps but a growing friendship and love that is palpable.

I finished my doctorate; Jennifer is halfway through hers.  We own a home, mini-van, family sedan, and 25 year old pick-up truck named Pa-Paw.

I have served on multiple church staffs as an interim pastor, preaching nearly every Sunday for the past 5 years.  I have been a ministry consultant with churches, state and national denominational groups.  I’ve traveled to the Israel, Jordan, Greece, and Turkey studying the places and times of the New Testament.

I’ve preached twice in the Van Ness Auditorium of LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville (for Educational Ministry folks, this is the mother ship).  I’ve written curriculum for CentriKid camps and been rejected 5 times on a kid’s ministry book proposal.

All this to say that in the past 10 years, GOD HAS BEEN SO GOOD!  HE HAS BEEN SO FAITHFUL!  HE HAS BEEN GRACIOUS and KIND!  He had a plan and a purpose for our good, which was far better than anything we could have ever imagined (Eph. 3:20). 

Ten years ago, I might not have been as able to see His hand so perfectly and delicately working in my life.  I was probably fretting over finishing seminary, finding a job, and making money to pay off my student loans.  Unfortunately, I was caught up seeing the immediate, the present, the now. 

But God, in His abundant love and grace, had already laid the plans He had in store for us.  Isaiah 55:9 Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.

10 years later, I think it is good to look back and reflect.  10 years later, I recognize that I need to lean and trust more on the ways and thoughts of Almighty God.  10 years later, I need to stand utterly silent and be exceedingly thankful for that He has done in our lives.

10 years later, I need to remember Jeremiah 29:11 is true.  Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Thank you Lord for the past 10 years.

May 2012 to May 2013 : A Ministry Look-Back

mayEvery May, at the beginning of my summer break, I try to stop and look back over the past year and reflect on the opportunities the Lord has opened for me to do what I love and was called to do.  This particular 12 months has been a little bit of everything.  Ministry opportunities have flowed from all sides.

From…

  • Traveling to Greece, Turkey, and Switzerland with the Apostles & Epistles Tour.  You can’t beat teaching Revelation 1 on the Island of Patmos overlooking John’s cave.  Indescribable.
  • Finishing one interim pastorate at Lancaster Bapt Church and beginning and finishing another at Living Grace Church.
  • Training young pastors for LifeWay’s CentriKid Camps and then being a camp pastor myself for a couple weeks.
  • Preaching in various pulpits around KY like Corinth BC in London, Immanuel, Pioneer, Hopewell and Bruner’s Chapel BC all in Harrodsburg, Simpsonville BC, and First Bapt Clarksville, TN.
  • Leading training workshops for Eubank BC, Beechland BC, Pioneer BC and First Bapt Clarksville.
  • Teaching breakout sessions at ministry conferences – the CU Transformational Church Summit, the KBC Seminary for a Day, and CU Louisville’s Contagious Churches & Leaders.
  • Serving alongside the tireless LifeWay VBSi & Preview Team as a speaker & breakout session leader in 4 cities: Ridgecrest, NC, Fort Worth, TX, Nashville, TN, and Kissimmee, FL.  This opportunity has been one I will never forget.
  • Great times of sharing with my students outside of class like doing the DNow Team training, teaching alongside Jennifer for BCM about relationships, pre-marriage counseling in our home with Chris Price and Anna Step, witnessing Jacob Howard, one of my guys, ordained to the Gospel ministry, and taking a group of 13 to LifeWay’s headquarters in Nashville for CU Day at LifeWay.
  • All the while completing two amazing semesters with my students in class after class.  Year 5 was my best in class teaching year so far.

It is simply amazing for me to see what God has done in my life, if I would make myself available to Him and His purposes.  As I reflect back, I am overwhelmed by God’s grace and kindness toward me and my family.  This is way more than I could have ever imagined back in 1996 when I surrendered to the call of ministry.  God has taken my 3 loaves and 2 fish and multiplied them time and time again.

Where will God lead from May 2013 to May 2014…who knows?  But wherever He leads, I will follow.

Ending Interim No. 4

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Children’s Sermon @ LGC

On April 14 (4 weeks away), I will be concluding interim pastorate no. 4 at Living Grace Church here in Campbellsville.  I served Living Grace Church as interim pastor back in 2008-09 during a previous pastor search process and again this time around for the past 9 months.

The people of Living Grace Church are wonderful.  They have been so kind and gracious to let me learn alongside of them what it means to be a church that is intergenerational, inter-denominational, multiracial and from every socioeconomic level in our community.

I have been stretched in my understanding of the primary Christian doctrines, built up in my belief in the sufficiency of God’s Word, and saw how stabilizing church administration is essential for a 10-year old church plant.

I give thanks to the previous pastors of Living Grace Church: Pastor Phillip Kelley and Pastor Jason Fox.  The time between my first interim and my second showed how much leadership, blood, sweat, and tears these men invested in LGC.  Thank you my dear brothers for giving your hearts (and probably lots of nights of sleep) to this people.

I also give thanks for my worship leader for the first 6 months Mr. Benson Sexton and his dear wife Kristin, our church media guru.  These two leaders have been invaluable friends to me and my family and diligent co-laborers in the Gospel ministry.

I give thanks to our youth minister Mr. Mike Humphress who has a tender heart before the Lord and a true passion to develop leaders who love students.  I am also thankful for Mrs. Anne Sanders who leads the children’s ministry.  I have been impressed time and time again with her organization and vision for our GraceKids.  Ms. Debbie Ruggles, the church secretary, has been my helper, encourager, and faithful supporter through thick and thin.  She has been a peace-giving force in my life.

I will miss seeing the smiling faces on Sunday mornings.  I will miss the warm hugs from those ladies (and a few fellas) who gave me a hug every week no matter what was going on.  I will miss watching the children of LGC run all over the place after worship.  I will miss being called “pastor” which is a term of endearment and devotion, which blessed me every time.  And “step-pastor” by one dear friend which always made me smile and laugh.

But unlike other interim pastorates which have been in other towns, when this one concludes I will still get the chance to see the people of LGC out and about in our little community, which will always be a treat.

Hurricane Isaac on the Soccer Field

Just a couple pictures from last Saturday, Sept. 8, for Isaac’s first game in the Campbellsville Youth Soccer U8 league.  His team is navy blue.  These were taken by the league photographer.

It was a downpour, but the kids got out there and played like champions.

Far Right.  Notice the height on his jump.  That is some serious vertical lift.  All of 3 inches.

“Watch the ball.  Track the ball.  Be the ball.”
He ended the day with 3 or 4 goals.  They don’t keep score, so we really never know.

Life at the Garrison Ranch

A short video I made for my opening day of class.  Jennifer is quite jealous of my skills.

Summer 2012 Recap

Riding a hot air balloon on the 4th of July.

When the blog went down in July, I frantically tried to get it back up and running.  And when I finally got the thing going again, I just didn’t have anything interesting to say or post.  So I haven’t.  But now the summer is nearly over, so I thought I would fire some one-liners about life, ministry, parenting, and the culture.

  • The Olympics – Team USA is awesome, but the Chinese are machines. 
  • Living Grace Church – I am 1 month in and am having a very good time.  The health of the church is tremendously better than compared to 3 years ago when I was here before.  That goes in a very large part to the leadership of Pastor Jason Fox.  His steady hand and commitment to biblical health for the church paid off.  I tip my hat to you my friend.  Well done. 
  • Jennifer’s father – Earl – was in the hospital nearly all of July with a serious infection through out his body.  He is home now and we are very thankful.  God spared his life.
  • CentriKid Camp – Getting to be camp pastor of CentriKid camp was way too much fun.  3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th graders are so sweet and gracious.  They actually paid great attention to the messages each morning and evening, which I didn’t expect.  Organized Mass Chaos (OMC) was pure craziness.
  • Both boys in school - Isaac started 1st grade, Ethan started pre-K.  For 3 hours each morning, not one kid is in our house.  Very strange phenomenon.  I think Jennifer likes the quiet mornings.
  • Chick-Fil-A – Americans can’t spell the name of the store, but they sure do love themselves some Jesus chicken.  The original and the spicy are my favs.
  • Summer movies – Didn’t see anything at all.  Not Batman, not Spiderman, not Brave.  Nothing.  Nada.
  • Books – Great reads this summer mostly from the secular world.  Into Thin Air by Jon Krakaur, Moneyball by Michael Lewis, Theodore Rooseveltan Autobiography, and The Rise and Fall of the Anabaptist by E. Belfort Bax.
  • Downtown Abbey Season 1 – Extraordinary.  Season 2 needs to get on NetFlix asap.
  • Jennifer’s book – The Leaders Guide to “Christian History Made Easy” – was released in July and we got a copy.  I am so happy she beat me to the publishing punch.
  • Greece/Turkey Trip – The May study tour has really helped in preaching and teaching.  I will start my series on the 7 churches of Revelation in September and have tons of video to show.  The dates for Israel/Jordan 2014 are available if you’re interested in traveling with the School of Theology.
  • My sister Crystal got married.  Small, sweet ceremony in a quaint Methodist chapel.  Congrats Sis.
  • Finally Turning 35 – With July came my birthday and officially rolling into the middle-age demographic.  All demographic studies have 21-34 and 35-54 as categories determining young adults and middle adults.  10 years of marriage, 2 kids, a mortgage, a Buick sedan.  Yup, we are middle adults.

Cheers to Summer 2012.  You’ve been a wild one.

When the Glasshouse Cracks

News cycles reeled last week after the arrest of well-known prosperity preacher and pastor Rev. Creflo Dollar Jr, pastor and founder of World Changers Church International in College Park, Ga. Dollar was released on bail after allegedly choking his 19-year-old daughter during an argument in their home.

Pastor Dollar came to the pulpit the following Sunday to a packed auditorium and to the reception of a standing ovation. His congregation showed unfailing support for their leader and believe he is innocent of all charges. Prior to his sermon, Pastor Dollar denied all allegations saying that there was a family argument that got “emotional” but nothing more. He asserts he was simply disciplining his daughter and things “escalated.”

This brief look into the private life of a celebrity pastor has brought to bear the undeniable interest of the media and public in the domestic affairs of spiritual leaders. The pastor’s home life, no matter if one is leading a church of 50 or 5,000, always generates a lot of attention.

Some have even named the pastor’s house a glasshouse where everyone wants to look inside finding out what really happens behind closed doors. Church members, neighbors, complete strangers are eager to get a look what the preacher does in private.

There is something voyeuristic about seeing how a pastor treats his spouse and kids. Undoubtedly people want to know how he deals with everyday pressures in comparison to their own lives. Does he yell in frustration at his kids? Does he spank with his hand or a belt or at all? Do he and his wife get into heated debates using swear words? The world wants to know.

Even the more mundane daily rituals are tantalizing tidbits of information. Does he do chores around the house like laundry or dusting? Does he watch R-rated movies? Do they have a filter on their internet? Is the checkbook organized or are bills laying everywhere? Inquiring minds want to know.

But when the glasshouse cracks, when obvious sin seeps into the pastor’s family, it becomes headline news. As the glasshouse shows signs of wear and tear, the peeping eyes increase.

However, two overarching principles about ministry and family need to be identified and spoken to. First, pastors, ministers, priests and their families are sinful, morally broken people. They make mistakes. They have conflicts with each other and within themselves. They have real issues that arise at times, inevitably making their way out in the public square.

This should not be a surprise to anyone, no matter if a believer or not. The Bible is very clear on this issue. No one is perfect. Everyone is sinful (Romans 3:10). That is life. That is the reason Jesus came, died and was raised again. Sin was the human problem that the Gospel, or the Good News of Jesus, came to fix (Luke 19:10).

Secondly, pastoral ministry has and will always include living in a glasshouse. So here’s my personal invitation: look in and enjoy. You are free to take a peek. There will be cracks at times in the walls. There will be messes and mistakes strewn all over the living room floor. There will be good days and not so good days, and you are free to witness them all.

But remember when you look in, the Christian life is not a journey into perfection for those in ministry or otherwise. The Christian life is a continual walk with Jesus in grace and in truth, through growth, correction, failure, forgiveness, reproof, assurance – all surrounded by God’s love and mercy.

You are welcome to look inside the glasshouse, but don’t be surprised by what you see. Our house, like your house, always needs to be fixed up.

Originally written for and posted on www.kyforward.com – June 12, 2012

Living Grace Take 2

Starting July 1, I will begin a second stint as Transitional Pastor of Living Grace Church here in Campbellsville.

I served LGC way back in 2008-09 for about 6 months as they went through a pastor search process.  That was my first year back in Campbellsville after being away for 10 years.  It was an interesting re-introduction to the community I’d hoped to raise my family in and to the radically diverse nature of church dynamics in the lil’ ville.

While my first stint with LGC was rather short, I have stayed in decent contact with the church and its leaders over the past few years.  I was honored to be friends with both Pastor Phillip Kelley (who came right after me) and also with Pastor Jason Fox (who I will be following).  Actually Jason’s daughter Stella and my boy Isaac are quite the item.

I’ve spent time with both brother-pastors and learned about how things were going at the church.  Maple Trail, my consulting firm, was hired on back in 2009 to do a ministry consultation which gave me more insight into the workings of LGC.

As with any transitional ministry, I will keep my interim ministry philosophy intact with this one…
1.  Don’t change anything unless asked.  And only change things that you can see through all the way till the end.

2.  Don’t start anything new unless asked.  Actually transitional ministry can be a great time to winnow ministry offerings choosing the most essential over the unnecessary.

3.  Only give input when asked.  And when giving input offer more solutions than problems.  There is no need to add burdens onto the lay leadership in the midst of pastoral change.

4.  Pass the baton well by not getting confused about my role.  I am not the starter of the race nor the finisher, just one of the men running a middle leg.  Therefore I do everything possible to help the search team, support the lay leadership, and establish stability across the body.  That way when I leave, everyone is happy knowing we reached the intended goal.

My Last Mid-Week Article to LBC

Copied from LBC Mid-Week Informer May 7, 2012

 Dear Friends and Family of LBC,

With a heavy heart but a rejoicing spirit, I offer to you my last Mid-Week Informer article.  My final day as interim pastor of LBC will be Sunday, May 27, and since I will be out for two weeks on the study tour of Greece and Turkey, this will be my final weekly installment.

When I arrived back in August 2011, only 10 months ago, I found a church in need of love and care.  From all accounts, emotions were raw, tension was thick and conflict was brimming on all sides.  Walt Browning and Bill Oliver tried to prepare me for the difficult situation the church was facing.  I sensed I was coming into a battlefield. 

Yet when I arrived, I found something very different.  There was an immediate connection between us.  I didn’t find a church engaged in battle, I found a people wanting to love their leader.  I was told by Walt early on, “Our people want to love their pastor and want to be loved by their pastor.”  Those words became the hallmark for what I believed God was calling me to do at LBC – simply love the people. 

And you, my dear brothers and sisters, returned that love immediately back upon me and my family.  There wasn’t a Sunday or Wednesday that went by where I didn’t “feel the love” in our midst.  In our times of worship, in prayer, in Bible study, in meetings, when eating around the table, with the children, the teenagers, the senior adults, the various Sunday school classes, with the staff, the deacons, the ministry teams, everyone showed us amazing, abundant love. 

I’ve often been reminded of Paul’s words to the churches in Galatia when thinking about you, my LBC family.  He writes, For I testify to you that, if possible, you would have gouged out your eyes and given them to me.” (Gal 4:15b)  I think you might have done the same for me if I asked.

Deep love and kindred spirits are hard to come by these days.  For that I am so grateful to have shared this time with you.  I will look back on our Wednesday night studies with sincere fondness and a smile on my face for every time I made you do something new.  I will cherish the times I spent with Pastor Nehemiah & Stephen on our Google+ video conference staff meetings.  I will remember with joy walking up and down the aisles on Sunday mornings talking with you, shaking hands, asking how your week has gone.  I will continue to celebrate the increase in giving and attendance, the number of children baptized, and the explosion of community awareness and outreach.

Pastor Harold & his family are going to be so blessed because I know you will extend to them the same love you’ve extended to our family. I love each of you and will be praying God’s best for you in the days to come.

Grace and peace,   Shane

Saying Goodbye to LBC a Second Time

Lewisport BC - LBC 1

My home church was LBCLewisport Baptist Church.  I love my 1st faith family at LBC with all my heart.  They led me to Christ, grew me up in Jesus, and adopted me as one of their sons in the faith.  I am, and will always be, eternally grateful for the people and minister of LBC.

Lancaster BC - LBC 2

But over this past year, I got a chance to meet and love another LBCLancaster Baptist Church.  My new faith family at LBC 2 has become so precious to me. 

They allowed me to lead them in worship, teach them from God’s word, challenge them to lean on the power of God, and reach their community in new ways.  They opened their hearts to me and for a second time I was adopted as a LBC son.

I will officially be completing my fourth interim pastorate later this month.  Each has been a new experience for me.  Living Grace Church in 2008 was all about learning how pastoral transitions work.  Parkway Bapt Church in 2009 taught me what it means to teach on a larger scale to wider diversity of people.  Bethany Bapt Church in 2010-11 stretched me personally and spiritually.  I always thought ministry in a major city would be easy because of all the people and needs, but it was much harder than I expected.

And now Lancaster Bapt. Church.  LBC 2 taught me it is possible to deeply love a people in a short amount of time.  I learned that I really love ministry when people love to be loved by their pastor.  I have teared up more than once thinking about these fine brothers and sisters in Christ who I’ve only known for 9 months, but feels like we’ve been friends for a lifetime. 

Thank you LBC 2.  Your new pastor is going to be awesome.  Your ministry in the future is going to be bright.  You will always hold a very special place in my heart.

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