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Monday, November 29, 2010

Lightyear - Magi Feud Continues... Shepherd Peace Accords Continue In Tact

In the wake of yesterday's misunderstandings concerning reportedly "strange gifts and boxes" carried by three magi approaching the Nativity on our piano, hostilities enflamed again today between Space Ranger Buzz Lightyear and the Magi.

In an "I just got home and had to take a picture of this" report, Pastor John reported that the Magi continue to lose horribly by anyone's estimation.

"I don't know how long these Magi can hang in there," reported the pastor-daddy, "I keep setting them up and bringing the parties to the peace table, but something they're doing is really setting him (Buzz) off!"

In today's peace-talks, the Magi have reportedly agreed to open their gifts BEFORE entering the Nativity corral, and Space Ranger Lightyear has agreed not to knock them down before they even get close enough to at least see the Christ child.

"We have high hopes for these peace-talks," said a Magi representative.  "We see how well things are going for the shepherds, and we would very much like to enjoy that ourselves."

Lightyear Protects Infant Jesus from Marauding Ne'er-do-wells

Last night, sometime between church and bedtime, there appears to have been a grave misunderstanding outside of the corral housing the Nativity on our piano.

Post bedtime accounts found Buzz Lightyear beside the baby Jesus, surrounded by fallen wise men, a camel, a donkey, and shepherds who were apparently thought to be threatening the safety and well-being of the baby.

All parties were quickly revived and brought back to focus upon the central object of the Nativity after Lightyear examined what appeared to be "suspicious boxes" and "gifts" to verify their contents.  The Space Ranger has issued an official apology, and promises to continue guarding the Nativity "to infinity and beyond."  However, when told that the display was slated for storage after the holidays, he amended his plans to coincide with the proposed schedule.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Upon the Event of Thanksgiving...

I am convicted, even un-done, that I have so little to give to the God Who saves me.

What could I do that might rise as incense before His throne?

What could I say that might please His ears and set His heart to smile?

What might I make with my hands that He might find recompense for His own blood?

In my poverty, I have but to give until all has been given, to the full measure of devotion and beyond if such might be His divine permissions in the life that is to come.

In His Light, I have found my depravity; in His peace, I have found still waters; in His grace, I have found the pathway to Life.

Modern swells of pride and ingenuity find no fellowship with my soul and empty my cup, but the ancient movement to share in the fellowship of His sufferings in the spreading of His Gospel; to this my soul is drawn beyond explanation except that I can ride no other trail in the light of His fellowship.

I shall never fulfill to live so long as to repay His grace; and such is an unreachable goal.  But to serve, and in serving, to somehow make Him smile Who has purchased me from depravity and death, Who has stayed me despite my failings; this my path, my lot, my happy sacrifice to Him shall be if God in His providence and kindness might grant it so to be.

For Christ!  For His Kingdom!  For His Glory!

Pastor John

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Trail I Ride...

Oh, that I might live as a holy sacrifice to my God... that my life might breathe His vision... that the trail I ride might be His wake... that my legacy might be bereft of me and full of Him!

For Christ!  For His Kingdom!  For His Glory!

That somehow, in His grace, I might please Him in my sacrifice!

Pastor John

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Good Stuff

Over the past weekend, Penny got a burr under her saddle to decorate the house for Christmas.  Of course, she was spot-on about it being the best and most opportune time to do so, given our pastoral holiday schedule, a.k.a. relative insanity for a month or so.  Thus, in light of the wisdom presented, I settled in for the soon-to-come whirl and wush of activity clothed in evergreen.

Fun was found in every opened box, every tug of evergreen, and every lighting of the tree.  Before long, our home was draped in the beauty of Christmas as only Penny can do, and I began to feel the welcomed warmth of our home during one of my favorite holidays.  I rearranged a little furniture and hung the green on the front of the house, retiring then to the kitchen to join my bride for a quiet conversation of pleasurable review in light of the transformation and the hanging of the mistletoe.

For some reason, Penny walked back into the living room for a moment, and came back reporting a version of peace we had not all-together expected.  I walked in after the report, and found JeeP sitting in the newly placed rocking chair, joyfully within the glow of the lighted tree, reading a favorite Christmas book with an awesome, contented look glowing from his face.

"The good stuff" whirls around us all the time, doesn't it.

James, writing to Christians under unthinkable persecutions, tells them that "every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Lights, with Whom there is no variation or shifting shadow"(nasb/esv).

Can you imagine any group in our history who could claim a relatively total lack of "good" things in their lives more than the early Christians?!  Yet, James reminds them, encouraging them in their endurance for Christ, that God is pouring out good and perfect gifts upon them from Heaven!

We are in the midst of one of the most difficult economies in generations.

A once "Christian Culture" has shifted to a "Politically Correct" existence... attacking those who might dare stand upon the Truth of the Scriptures with venomous name-calling and vicious outbursts meant to sideline Truth in lieu of anti-Christian ideals.

And yet, we are still yet to scratch the surface of the persecution of our early Christian fathers.

For me, this past weekend, "the good stuff" was playing in the living room, reading in the rocking chair, and re-arranging carefully placed decorations as the lights of Christmas danced in their eyes.

It would have been easy to miss.

It came and went all too quickly.

I don't want to miss even one of them.

Oh, how beautiful the gifts of our Heavenly Father Who loves us!  How magnificent His kindness!  How warm the aspect of His attention!  With Him, indeed, there is no change, no variance, no turning.  In His grace He pours out His love, and as the troubles of this world simply come and go, the love of God goes on forever!

Oh, that my life might be to Him a song of praise, a psalm of thanksgiving, and a novel of adoration!

In the peace of Christ,

Pastor John

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Road Goes on Forever

Last week, about Wednesday, all roads began to lead to Loranger, Louisiana, the site of Weekend 31 - 2010; the signature women's retreat from our Women's Pastor and my bride, Penny Franklin.

I can still feel the hum of the road in my tail-bone, and a little of the soreness in my muscles from a week of long driving, heavy lifting, and long days of work.  I served as half of the tech/media/stage crew, and senior pastor.  It was a great week!

We got back to New Orleans Saturday evening, and by about 7:15, the sound and media equipment was unloaded and back in place, and our professional team gathered at the back of our worship center.  Exuding from the tired eyes of all involved were a couple of distinct emotions... specifically peace and happiness.  Oddly enough, such have been the hallmarks of these experiences along the trail of ministry we have ridden and continue to ride today.

One of mine and Penny's long time favorite songs is the old Robert Earl Keen song, "The Road Goes on Forever" and at times like these, as we went home, took a short break and then began prepping for Sunday services, its words became appropriate all over again.

How many times have we looked at each other as one of us said, "the road goes on forever" and the other responded "and the party never ends"?  It's usually tired, happy, joyful and hopeful all at the same time.

Tonight, after just enough rest to mount back up and get back in the saddle, I'm tired and sore... but dad-gum if I'm not eight kinds of happy.  I just got home from mentoring a great young minister out at the seminary, had a brief moment with my bride as our children climbed all over me and vied for my attention, transforming their pastor-father into a human jungle gym, and we had three conversations all at once... it's good to be loved!  I walked Penny out as she left to lead the evening Women's Bible Study, kissed her goodbye, and started singing our song in my head... "the road goes on forever and the party never ends."

A good tired is just that... good.

It's good to work after the right things in life.

It's good to serve the One True God.

It's good to love and be loved by my family.

It's good to do it all together and crash into the bed knowing that we've run a good race, even as we look on down the trail and know that it's going to rev back up tomorrow.

It's good to run and run again, and to see the hand of God at work all around us as we do.

There are so many things to be about in this life... for me, I'm glad to get to run as a team... and so thankful to live in the blessing of serving the God Who died and rose again to save us!

May His peace overwhelm you, even as it has overwhelmed us!


Pastor John

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Some Thoughts on Freedom

This morning's sermon on freedom encapsulates the continuum from temporal freedom to eternal freedom.  Check it out @

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Roar of the Engines

This morning, we've hit the ground running in one of our favorite races.

Penny & I fell in love ministering together over ten years ago, and we've continued to do so throughout our marriage.  Today, we're in the home stretch toward her next "Weekend 31" retreat for ladies.

There are sound systems, lights, media systems, staging, promotionals, instruments, and more waiting for me as I get to hear the engines start to roar on this machine of ministry God has built in our marriage.  Already, lives have been changed toward the path of Christ even in the stages of preparation, and I can't wait to see what God is going to do in and through this woman who marched up and into my life more than a decade ago.




So often these haunt our minds like so much dust on the windshield of living.

Today, the finish line is clear, and all rivers flow to that end.

It's good to run!

For Christ!  For His Glory!  For His Kingdom!

Pastor John

Monday, November 8, 2010

Just Some Things that Stir My Soul

Yesterday, I finalized this year's All Saint's Day series "Song of the Martyrs," with a sermon titled "Count It All Joy."

It was sobering to realize afresh the context into which James was writing, the purpose for which he admonished the Jewish Christians to seek wisdom from God, and the price our fore-fathers in the faith were not only willing, but ready to pay as they proved out their faith.

Today, I want to share that sermon with you even as its contents continue to stir my soul.  If you have the time, listen in, and consider the ranks of men and women who have lived much stronger lives than we.

May we rise to the level of their sacrifice!

Here's the link:

Song of the Martyrs, Part II - by Pastor John
(It begins with some pastor moments on Biblical stewardship and picks up the sermon about ten minutes in.)

A Birds-Eye Blog-View

Just for fun, here's a conglomeration of the last year and a half of blogging life that Penny showed me how to do.  Enjoy!


Friday, November 5, 2010

Rest vs. Work - The Debate, The Design, The Solution

Recently I was interviewed by a seminary student I am honored to be mentoring.  The subject of the interview was ensuring rest in the life of a minister.

The questions were well thought out, and this particular subject being the crux of many a current book, it was a fresh discussion.

Toward the end of the interview, the young man asked me one of his final questions, "How would you suggest that a minister ensures he gets enough rest?"  It didn't take me long to answer, and I think it caught him a little off guard.

"Work your butt off for six days, and on the seventh day, you won't struggle to rest at all.  It's the Texas ranch-hand philosophy, all day doing ranch-work, and sleepin' is easy!"

Work-life balance... there's another word for that, "hogwash!"  Sometimes we protect our days off so much that people should just die on their own time.  For me, my official workdays are Sunday through Thursday, and typically I pull work through the cracks of the weekend as it's needed.  Oddly enough, it works right out to be God's 6:1 ratio for work vs. rest.  Here's an idea I think would bless the lives of both pastors and our churches, "Work together, live in peace."  Of course I'm going to hunt and fish with my children, but I can't go lazy toward my work in the process.  Perhaps we should consider that laziness breeds lethargy, and that God expects His servants to serve at His plow.

I want to rest because I've worked my tail off at the things of God all week.  I want to fall into the arms of my wife and know that I did all that could be done to bring in God's herd.  I want to be so stinkin' tired from good, strong work, that my children can use my belly like a trampoline and I can still take a nap!

God's program is simple.  God's design is strong.  Man's laziness is vomitous.

Pastors of the world, work hard today; we have been called to a great and mighty service of the Almighty God!  Rest well when you have run your six days, and may our children's children know that we have served the Lord!

In the peace of Christ,

Pastor John