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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Cold Rainy Night

What is there to do on a Monday night when it is cold and rainy? How about take gifts to people who have recently visited our church and share with them the love of Christ? That is exactly what several people did last night and guess what...

When I got home last night, I had an email from Amanda S., Jackie C., and Linda S....

They met a lady and her teenage daughter who had recently visited our church...

And they gave her a gift...

And they shared the gospel...

And they watched both of them make professions of faith in Jesus Christ!

How's that for a cold, dreary, rainy night?

Pastor Noel

Monday, November 26, 2007

Presidential Candidates

Over the next few months, I want to highlight the 'abortion views' of each of the leading candidates for president from both the Democratic and Republican parties.

I thought Mike Huckabee would be a good one to start with.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

What's Going On?

Misc Stuff...


I drove to South Carolina for Thanksgiving. It was a long drive both ways but I got a lot done: I got the church budget proposal finalized on my laptop. (Donna drove while I was doing that.) And I listened to two audio books. The first was Crucial Conversations written by a bunch of people. Someone had given me this book a year ago and I had read part of it, but never finished it. Finally I got through it via the audio. It was pretty good. I also listened to the Confessions of St. Augustine. I think that book would be easier to follow on paper.


I also mapped out my Christmas messages in my head while driving through the mountains of West Virginia. I am going to do something that might get me in a little trouble, but I believe this will be good for our church and interesting to our community. I am going to title the series something like: Father Abraham, Prophet Mohamad, or Christ Jesus – Who Can Lead Us To God? I know that sounds like a long title and not very Christmassy. Maybe I can shorten it as I work on it this week. The Christmas tie in will come through as we get into the series. The first week we will focus on why Judaism is not the way to God. We will look at the Old Testament prophecies foretelling the coming of the Messiah, and how Jesus has to be the fulfillment of those prophecies. While we do this we will learn about the reliability of Scriptures and how that can impact our lives. The second week we will focus on Mohamad. What is Islam? What does the Bible say about Islam, Mohamad, and what led to the modern day division between Christianity and Islam? While we do this we will learn why violating God’s purpose and plan for our lives is so dangerous. The third week we will focus on Christianity and how the virgin birth of Christ makes possible the salvation of the world. This series will require a lot of studying, but I’m looking forward to it. It should give us a new twist on the standard Christmas messages.


Our newly designed web page is almost ready to be unveiled. Maybe by the end of the week...


All plans for our Kenya mission trip are falling into place. I met with a missions coordinator for work in the area last week. It is exciting to hear about some of the stuff that goes on in secret to spread the gospel. I am looking forward to the trip.


My football team, Auburn, beat their in state rival, Alabama, for the sixth time in a row yesterday!


Noel

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

God's Way May Be Best After All

If we can do something in church that draws a crowd, then it must be a good thing to do, right? Forget Bible study, Bible preaching, digging into the Word. Our goal should be to grow a crowd, right? If we can just get a lot of people in a building once or twice a week, the changed lives stuff will just take care of itself, right?

Bob Burney, host of a radio show on WFRD in Columbus recently wrote an eye opening article for Baptist Press. Every church leader should read this article. Here is an excerpt...

Willow Creek has released the results of a multi-year study on the effectiveness of their programs and philosophy of ministry. The study's findings are in a new book titled "Reveal: Where Are You?," co-authored by Cally Parkinson and Greg Hawkins, executive pastor of Willow Creek Community Church. Hybels himself called the findings "ground breaking," "earth shaking" and "mind blowing." And no wonder: It seems that the "experts" were wrong.

The report reveals that most of what they have been doing for these many years and what they have taught millions of others to do is not producing solid disciples of Jesus Christ. Numbers yes, but not disciples. It gets worse. Hybels laments:


"Some of the stuff that we have put millions of dollars into thinking it would really help our people grow and develop spiritually, when the data actually came back it wasn't helping people that much. Other things that we didn't put that much money into and didn't put much staff against is stuff our people are crying out for."

If you simply want a crowd, the "seeker-sensitive" model produces results. If you want solid, sincere, mature followers of Christ, it's a bust. In a shocking confession, Hybels states:

"We made a mistake. What we should have done when people crossed the line of faith and become Christians, we should have started telling people and teaching people that they have to take responsibility to become 'self feeders.' We should have gotten people, taught people, how to read their Bible between services, how to do the spiritual practices much more aggressively on their own."

You can read the full article here.

May our church always seek to grow and reach more people, but let our purpose be to connect those people to a meaningful, life-changing, and enduring relationship with God, and may we do that by preaching His Word and showing the love of Christ.

Pastor Noel

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Anatomy of A Changed Life

About nine o'clock last night I got a call at home from Greg Strausz. He and his wife, Lisa, had just gotten home from making a visit through our Connections Ministry. They had very good news! They had gotten to speak to a child that had made a decision for Christ at an event we had here at the church last Saturday night. And then they turned to the proud, teary eyed mom and talked with her about her relationship with Christ. After sharing the gospel with her, they asked if she would like to make this life changing decision. She said yes, and they helped her express her heart to the Lord.

I could tell from the phone call that Greg and Lisa were very excited that the Lord had used them in this way. I knew from experience the joy that must have been felt last night in the home they had visited. I look forward to seeing the eternally changed lives that will come out of what happened last night.

Later last night as I was telling Donna what happened, I thought about the 'process' that led to this family turning to Christ. I don't know all of the details, but let me share some of what I do know:


  • --- Saturday, September 9, 2006 --- We hosted an appreciation lunch for first responders in the area. As a part of our five year remembrance of the attack of Islam on America (9/11), we invited police, fire squads, and rescue workers to join us for this special event. Many people from the church visited police and fire departments inviting men and women to attend, cooked barbecue all night long, set-up tables, decorated, prepared programs, and so forth. As it turns out this family that the Strausz's visited last night attended the event. In fact, Donna and I sat at their table, and I remember getting to meet them. I think this was the very first time they had attended anything at our church.

  • --- Wednesday, October 31, 2007 --- Over a year later, we were hosting another event for the community, Kid's Fest. Again the church had worked very hard to prepare as nice an event for our community as possible. Many people sacrificed time and money to make the event happen. Some volunteers had been at the church literally all day setting up the family life center. That night I was walking around meeting new people and I spoke to this same lady. She reminded me that we had met at the 9/11 lunch. She expressed how impressed she was with the people of our church and what we did for the community. That same night somebody else invited her to the illusionist show we had Saturday.

  • --- Saturday, November 3, 2007 --- Three days after the Kid's Fest, we had internationally acclaimed illusionist B. J. Harris come do a couple of free shows for the community. Again, a lot of work went into this. Volunteers called over two thousand people who were involved in our Upward Basketball program last year and invited them to the event, other volunteers worked with set-up, counseling, clean-up, etc. This lady and her son were present at the event. Her son made a profession of faith and indicated that on a decision card.

  • --- Monday, November 5, 2007 --- Two days later, after a long Monday at work, a number of people gathered to receive some training on how to better share their faith. Afterwards we gave out some information on people who had recently visited an event or service here at church. Greg and Lisa were faithful to get the training. They were faithful to go. They were faithful to share. And a family was changed for all eternity!

So how did this happen? The Church!

Dozens of people were faithful to serve Christ through a number of events for over year, and through all of that, look what happened. Was it worth it? Yes, even if this were the only family changed, which they are not and will not be, it would definitely be worth it.

So to everyone around here who does so much, thank you!

Pastor Noel

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Height of Vanity

It is another 'Dancing with the Stars' family night at the Dear house... So I am aimlessly surfing the world wide web and engaging in the height of vanity otherwise known as 'googling my own name.'

Have you ever done that? It is interesting and sometimes scary what you can find. Here are some of the odd-er references to 'Noel Dear.'

link -- This is a record of a technical problem I had back in 1998 when I owned an internet service provider in Mississippi. That was over nine years ago. I guess some things don't ever get erased from the internet.

link -- This is an article a newspaper did on my views of worship. They really messed up what I said, but that's par for the course with that newspaper.

link -- This is an article that talks about my house burning down a few years ago.

link -- This site says I married a girl from Mississippi State University. If I would have known that before I got married I would have looked for someone from a school with a better football team.

I think every funeral or wedding I've done pops up if you go far enough into the search lists.

It's funny to see sites about people who share your name...

link -- Here is an article that is trying to determine if 'Pastor Noel' is gay. Obviously, he's talking about a different 'Pastor Noel.'

link -- This page has a classic picture of 'Pastor Noel' at the 'Chicken Barbeque.'

link -- Here is a video of 'Pastor Noel', only here Pastor Noel is a Mexican woman ventriloquist.

link -- Here is the real 'Pastor Noel' blog. In this blog I pretend to be a mountain climber. I bet you didn't know I climbed mountains in my spare time.

OK. I can't think of any kind of spiritual point or lesson to make from all of this, but I have successfully waisted enough time for 'Dancing with the Stars' to go off.

Noel

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Look Mom... No Hands!

From our earliest childhood days, we tried to prove our independence, our strength, our toughness. As we grew from childhood to teendom, we fought with our parents to gain freedom and autonomy. As a society, we believe we have conquered nature and we reign supreme.

For most people today, the mindset is not that we don't believe there is a God, rather the mindset today is that we don't believe we need God.

Why would we need God anyway? We've got advanced medicine, unbelievable technology, powerful machines and engines. We can fly in airplanes; tunnel under mountains; split atoms; build skyscrapers; transplant hearts and lungs... Is there no limit to the awesome power and ability of man?

But this morning, as I read the news, I saw the pictures of the tragic fires sweeping across California. I read that over 700 homes were destroyed just yesterday and no relief is in sight.

A couple of pictures really caught my attention...





This is a photograph of a lady looking at the Santiago Canyon fire from atop the Quail Hill community. In the foreground of the picture, you see the power, might, and ingenuity of man. You see the buildings, the lights, signs of technology and achievement. In the background you see the approaching fire. Man may have great strength, but if the wind blows the wrong direction for too long, the whole city will may be destroyed in a matter of hours, and man will be helpless to do anything about it.

This photo tells a similar story...



It turns out, we may not be as independent as we thought. We may not have the strength and power to shrug off God and call Him a relic of history after all.

As I read the news and looked at the photographs, I thought of something I read in the Psalms...


Lord, what is man, that You take knowledge of him? Or the son of man, that You are mindful of him? Man is like a breath; His days are like a passing shadow. (Psalm 144:3-4)


Maybe we do need the Lord! Maybe we need Him a lot more than we sometimes think. Maybe we can learn a lesson in the tragedy of the California fires.


Read this passage a line at a time and see if the Lord doesn't change your perspective and focus today...

He looks on the earth, and it trembles;

He touches the hills, and they smoke.

I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;

I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.

May my meditation be sweet to Him; I will be glad in the Lord.

Psalm 104:32-34


Noel Dear

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Middle School Gives Birth Control Pills to Students & Caviar to local Inmates

King Middle School in Portland, Maine has decided to give birth control pills along with other prophylactics to 11-13 year olds who request them. And they plan to do this without the permission or even the knowledge of the parents.

There is something terribly wrong with this and it's probably not what you are thinking. Some will look at this and cringe because 11 year old girls are being encouraged to have sex through the distribution of birth control pills. That should make us cringe, but it is not the fundamental problem here.

Some will express grave concern that potentially dangerous prescription medicine is being given to children without their parent's permission or knowledge. I would share your concern, but that is not the fundamental problem either.

The fundamental problem is that the purpose of the school is to TEACH academic subjects, not to PARENT the children. Handing out birth control pills in PEZ dispensers crosses the line and usurps the authority and responsibility of the parents.

The AP article says the school is doing this because of a surge in pregnancies among middle schoolers in the area. It is very unfortunate that this problem exists in Portland, and something should be done about it, but this is not the responsibility of the school. It has also been brought to my attention that certain inmates in correctional facilities in and around Portland are suffering from a shortage of beluga caviar. I wonder if the school feels a moral obligation to provide this much needed garnish.

You might ask, "How is there any comparison between helping children avoid becoming pregnant and encouraging the reformation of inmates with caviar?" Well, the biggest parallel is this: NEITHER ONE IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE MIDDLE SCHOOL. (And, as it turns out, one would be about as effective as the other.)

Two wrongs don't make a right.

It seems there are some 'wrong headed' parents in Portland. But that will not be remedied by adding 'wrong headed' schools.

Noel Dear

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Don't Teach Your Kids To Spell

It's a family TV night. We're going back and forth between Dancing with the Stars and the Cleveland Indians game. Niether one is very exciting. I'm not a fan of professional baseball or professional dancing. I've never been so glad we didn't have picture in picture on our television. I don't think I could handle watching both at the same time.

Donna wanted to tell me something we just saw on tv was 'dumb.' The only problem is that we don't allow our kids to say that word. (I know that is a silly rule, but I just don't like to hear kids constantly say things and people are dumb.) So Donna, out of habit said, "That was d-u-m-b." Her comment was immediately followed by Emily's (our six year old), "Momma, I know how to spell and you just said a bad word."

Caught!

Emily is sitting with me, and I can see her little mind trying to process this contradiction. Is it wrong to say 'dumb'? Does mom really think it is wrong to say 'dumb'? Maybe what is right and wrong changes from time to time. Is this a classical case of situational ethics? Have I witnessed a paradigm shift in the ethical mores of my family? What is the epistemological foundation for banning the word 'dumb'?

O.K. Maybe she wasn't thinking all of that, but I do wonder how she processes this.

It might not be such a serious matter if Emily rebels one day and sows her oats by saying 'dumb' over and over and over, but I do wonder if we are sending the same kinds of signals with more important matters. I wonder what messages we're sending about the importance of prayer, the seriousness of gossip, and the value of loving the people God puts in our lives.

Something for all of us to think about.

Noel

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Hannah's Poem

Here is a poem that my eight year old daughter wrote...

Seasons

Swiftly goes summer,
Soon it will be winter.
If we see the birds fly south,
Our breath will fly from our mouths.
Though it is a while 'till spring,
We still will joyfully sing.
Because fall is very close,
We get our fall clothes.
Even though it is cold,
The sun is as bright as gold.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Random Update

Here goes a random update of life and church...

We had a great day at church yesterday. I think we had a total of four people make professions of faith in either the morning or evening worship services. We again started the service with baptism, something we have done nearly every single Sunday of 2007.

This morning began the first morning of revival prayer, and we had a number of people praying during the 6:30 to 7:30 hour.

I'm taken my wife out on a date tonight. A big thanks to the Salyers for babysitting my kids.

Not much more to say; I will write again soon.

Pastor Noel Dear

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Woe is me...

Do you ever have any of those 'woe is me' days? You know what I mean: Days when it seems like everything is too hard, nothing works out like it should, too many things to do and too little time to do them.

Do you ever have any of those days when you feel like it would be much easier to stop serving the Lord, stop fighting the battles, stop giving a rip, and just coast?

Do you ever have any of those days when it is much, much easier to gripe and complain than it is to be thankful and joyful?

If so, you may not want to read what I read in my devotion time this morning...

Hebrews 11:24-26 NIV By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter. 25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. 26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.

Stuck right in the middle of all of those 'by faith' verses in Hebrews 11 is this dart of conviction for all of us who have occasional 'woe is me' attitudes. I wonder if Moses ever thought about going back to the palace. I wonder if he considered walking like an Egyptian for a while. What would have been so wrong with that? Nothing, aside from the fact that God had called him to something different. Nothing, except that God had called him to something better. Maybe it was harder, sure, but it was God's plan and God's choice. And it was going to turn out to be a blessing for Moses if he had enough faith not to quit half way through.

O.K. Lord, I won't quit, I won't stop pushing forward. But you don't understand how hard it is sometimes...

Then I got to the bottom of the page in my Bible...

Hebrews 12:4 NIV In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.

Which put into perspective the two verses that preceded it...

Hebrews 12:2-3 NIV Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Wow! Maybe I should just keep my petty gripes and complaints to myself.

Now, as I step off my soap box...

We've had a pretty good week around here. Sunday was a very good day. We've had many comments on what we talked about in the message time on Sunday morning. I'll have more to say about how you can get plugged in this Sunday. (By this time next week, Pastor Shawn should have the sermon audio's up-to-date on the web page.)

At my house, we're back in the swing of school. As some of you may know, we homeschool, and so everyone has their role in this endeavor. My main role is Math teacher for Hannah. Last night after dinner we learned why square roots are called square roots. Hannah has such a heart for learning, she makes it fun to teach her. This morning at breakfast, we talked about why it is important to read your Bible every day. This homeschooling thing is one of the smartest decisions our family has ever made.

Today is a day of studying. I've got about an hour of paperwork/phone calls/emails to do, then nothing but studying. I enjoy these days.

Tomorrow, the Salyer Connect Group is coming over to my house to watch a movie in the back yard. Somehow I've got to figure out how to put a screen on my hill, secure a projector so a kid doesn't destroy it, and get sound. (I've considered just turning on the closed captioning and not worrying with an amplifier and speakers.) Where's Jeff Brooks when you need him?

Pastor Noel Dear

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Has That Always Been There?

Do you ever read a passage of Scripture in your daily devotion times and think, "Has that always been there?" Perhaps it is a sign of early senility or maybe it is a case of seeing what you need to see when you need to see it, but it happens to me repeatedly. I try to read through the New Testament fairly often and I use a plan to keep track of it and make sure I don't leave anything out or skip anything before I begin again, but still, every few days I run across something I don't remember reading before. It happened today...

I was reading in Hebrews. In chapter six I came to the familiar first few verses about the once for all sacrifice of Christ, then I came to verses seven and eight...

Hebrews 6:7-8 NIV Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. 8 But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.

Has that always been there?

I am the land that drinks in the rain. The rain is the Word of God that I read, and hear, and study. The question is what kind of 'crop' is resulting from all of that rain on the land. Where I live, my front yard is 80% grass, but my back yard is 80% weeds. When the rain comes, in the front yard it yields grass, in the back yard, the same rain yields weeds.

These verses got me thinking about the 'output' and the 'yield' of my life. There is certainly no defiency in the rain. (God waters my life regularly with His perfect word.) But I wonder if my life is producing more savory herbs and fruit (I just looked it up, that is what the word for 'crops' in this verse means) or more thorns and thistles.

These verses go on to say God will bless the life of those who produce the good crop. I want to my life to fall into that category! I think it is time to make a list of what is coming out of my life, positive and negative. How and I influencing others? Is the fruit of my life and ministry sweet, life changing, and God honoring? Or is it thorny and thistley (I know it's not a word)?

This just might turn into a Sunday evening sermon.

Well, what else is going on in the world?

George and Stephanie Lambert (some friends of mine that many of you have been praying for) won the court battle to take permanent custody of some children that were growing up in a very bad situation. As it turned out, they didn't even have to go before the judge. The biological family gave in to their wishes and signed over custody just hours before the court hearing.

I'm finishing up Freedomnomics by John R. Lott. It is a great book. If you read Freakonomics last year when it was so popular, then you need to read Freedomnomics. Freakonomics attacked many of the things we as Christians hold dear and it made a pretty bold argument for more abortions AND it made it seem like there was indisputable proof that abortion was a good thing for America. Well the falacies are uncovered in Freedomnomics. It is very enlightening. The part I'm reading now talks about how women sufferage changed the moral fabric and the political landscape of our country. I'm all for women voting, but this is scary!

These books aren't Christian books, they are half social commentary and half history (and half math), but they speak to many contemporary issues. If you are interested in reading them, start with Freakonomics, but make yourself a commitment that if you read the 'Freak' book that you will definately read the 'Freedom' book. If you don't, then you will just be disillusioned.

Donna and I just celebrated our 12 year wedding anniversary. We spent a couple days in Cleveland, just knocking around. If I weren't a preacher I would tell you she and I went to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame while we were there. Some of it was interesting; much of it was boring. I didn't know who most of the people were. They had on display the costumes that these old 'rock stars' would wear in their concerts. Many of them looked like some of my little girl's dress up clothes... lacy... frilly... wierd. I saw the old albums and concert posters for the Platters. My dad played the saxophone with them for some of their studio recordings years ago. That was neat to see. I mean, it would have been neat to see if I weren't I preacher and I would have gone there.

Well, that should be enough blogging for August. :)

Noel

After three days of searching the river, no body was found :)

Monday, June 25, 2007

Compelled to Blog 2

What a great day we had at church yesterday!

I'm on vacation this morning, but I felt compelled to write a little note about yesterday.

First it was Pastor Shawn's first day. He did a great job leading our worship time Sunday morning. The choir was packed and they brought down the house with their opening song.

Right after the opening song we baptized two young ladies. One made a profession of faith at a graduation party a couple weeks ago and the other was witnessed to by one of her co-workers and brought to church. Isn't it so sweet to see decisions and baptisms like this almost every single week!

Stan Walter sang the special and it was exactly what we needed to hear. I love to stand and preach right after someone has sung like that and really pointed people's hearts toward God.

In the evening service, the youth led everything. I don't know that I have never been to a youth service so well done. The youth praise team and praise band was excellent. I'll have to admit I was a little worried about them going into the service, but I shouldn't have been. They were great. In fact I'm looking forward to us using them to help pastor Shawn lead the morning service from time to time.

Troy, our youth minister, preached his first 'official' sermon, but if you had just walked in from the street you would never have known he hadn't been preaching for years. He honored God with the words he shared and he definitely challenged the church. At the end of the service a fifteen year old young man made a profession of faith. What a great way to top off a great day.

Pray that this coming Sunday will be just the same...

Pastor Noel

Compelled to Blog

What a great day we had at church yesterday!

I'm on vacation this morning, but I felt compelled to write a little note about yesterday.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A Blog Post About A Blog Comment

My regular readers and fellow blogging friends in Ohio, Mississippi, and Alabama know I almost never post a comment on someone else's blog. Well, I broke my tradition tonight and posted a comment on a blog about politics at the SBC Convention. As a result, my blog is being flooded by hits, so the article below is for those who have clicked over from the other blog. If they will simply read this article, it will clear up any confusion (and maybe replace it with regret). For my regular readers, ignore this article...

Pastor Noel

------

Editorial
The IMB doctrinal guidelines deserve SBC support
By JAMES A. SMITH SR.Executive Editor
Published May 31, 2007


It's time to move on.
That was the clear sentiment of the overwhelming majority of International Mission Board trustees May 8 in Kansas City after they convincingly adopted revised guidelines on baptism and on tongues and private prayer language used when considering prospective missionaries. The IMB vote came after a year-long study by an ad hoc committee of the board's Mission Personnel Committee, prompted by the controversy that had arisen after the initial action of the IMB in November 2005.
Having had the opportunity to personally attend four IMB trustee meetings during the period of the controversy over these matters, I emphatically believe it's time for the IMB—and the Southern Baptist Convention—to move on. Critics of the new guidelines, claiming that even in their revised form it is wrong for the IMB to establish doctrinal policies that are not addressed by the Baptist Faith and Message and who wish for an intervention by the SBC, are wrong on both counts.
(For further background on the IMB trustee actions, see the May 17 issue of the Witness. The revised guidelines are available on the Witness Web site, www.FloridaBaptistWitness.com.)
I could not express the appropriate response to the IMB's action any better than Ken Whitten, IMB trustee from Florida and senior pastor of Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz. In an interview after the board adopted the revised guidelines, Whitten told me the "spirit of unity" on the board did not require "unanimity" among trustees, adding, "I don't believe that we have to see eye-to-eye to walk hand-in-hand." Although the issues addressed by the board are "very important," Whitten said, "I believe the spirit of the meeting was such that we're ready to move on and talk about lost peoples of the world and reach them and not have to go back and revisit some of these issues."
John Russell, vice chairman of the board, trustee from Florida, and missions pastor at First Baptist Church at the Mall in Lakeland, told me as a "missions practitioner"—he leads his church's Global Reach Foundation which is currently working on 21 church plants—he supported the revised guidelines, although he opposed the baptism guideline in its original form. His amendment to the baptism guideline, accepted by the ad hoc committee, clarified the guideline so that pastors of missionary candidates would have an opportunity to work with the IMB to address any deficiency in the candidate's baptism experience.
Russell told me, "Now the local church gets the reasoning for the deferral or the delay and they can help work through it, pray through it, and seek the Lord on it." Russell added that he believes that there is a significant problem "greater than any of us realize" of churches failing to adequately examine prospective church members on the matter of baptism. "I'm not casting a stone or pointing a finger at somebody else. I think I have probably done that in churches I've been the pastor of or on staff with," Russell said.
The decision to change the baptism measure from a "policy" to a "guideline" was also important to Russell because it allows for "case-by-case flexibility."
Kentucky trustee Paul Chitwood, chairman of the ad hoc committee and Mission Personnel Committee, explained the rationale for the guidelines in his presentation to the trustees May 8. Although the committee found no "systemic problem with charismatic practices" on the field, "the rapid spread of neo-pentecostalism and its pressure exacted on new churches in various regions of the world warrants a concern for the clear Baptist identity of our missionary candidates. Furthermore, the diversity of denominational backgrounds among missionary candidates requires a clear baptism guideline to guide the work of our candidate consultants as they consider the qualifications of candidates."
Critics of the baptism and tongues/private prayer language guidelines have insisted that it's wrong for the International Mission Board to establish doctrinal qualifications that are not explicitly addressed in Southern Baptist Convention's confessional statement, the Baptist Faith and Message. But these critics—and I have interviewed all of the leading ones—have no answer for their own inconsistent application of this criticism. Although they claim that it is wrong to stipulate a doctrinal position on the matter of private prayer language since the BFM is silent on this matter, they have all told me that it's appropriate for the IMB to decline missionary candidates who believe in and practice public tongues. And yet, the BFM is also silent on that matter—as it is on many of the doctrinal issues raised by charismatic theology.
To illustrate the inconsistency in the argument, I have asked several critics of the private prayer language guideline whether it would be wrong for the IMB to reject a missionary candidate who believes snake handling is a legitimate spiritual practice, even if it is a private one. The critics agreed with me that it would be appropriate for the IMB to reject such a missionary candidate—and yet, the BFM is silent on snake handling.
The IMB baptism and tongues/private prayer language guidelines have ignited a broader debate in Southern Baptist life and played a prominent role in deliberations at the annual meeting last year and may this year. The rallying cry of critics is that Southern Baptists must stop narrowing the parameters of doctrinal cooperation, oftentimes suggesting that Southern Baptists should not stipulate positions for denominational employees on "secondary and tertiary issues."
The implication of such calls for our entities and especially our seminaries is dangerous. If, for example, seminaries may not go beyond the BFM 2000 in evaluating the doctrinal fitness of prospective faculty members what do we do about the myriad of crucial matters of biblical and theological importance that are not addressed (and could never be) in the BFM, but are certainly relevant when carefully selecting the right kind of professors in our schools?
As a former administrator and current trustee of Southern Seminary, I know how seriously trustees fulfill their duty of faculty election. Restricting trustees to evaluate faculty only within the BFM would severely undermine them and do great harm to our institutions. Consider, for example, just issues that arise from charismatic theology—it would be wrong to forbid inquiry of prospective professors' views on tongues, faith healing, "being slain in the spirit" or the "laughing revival," to cite a few issues not addressed by the BFM but are nevertheless unquestionably germane for teachers in our schools.
Although not quite as extensive as the seminaries, the range of appropriate doctrinal issues not covered by the Baptist Faith and Message to consider when evaluating prospective missionaries is nevertheless significant. There very well may be a good theological and exegetical argument against the private prayer language policy, but it certainly cannot be that the BFM is silent on the matter.
As to the baptism guideline, the critics have no grounds of objection as it regards the Baptist Faith and Message since the issues raised in the guidelines are clearly addressed in the BFM.
The bottom line is that the International Mission Board trustees—after an exhaustive study of the issues—have acted in a manner that is consistent with their responsibilities and, if asked, messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention should not substitute their judgment on these matters. The trustees have come to a reasonable compromise on important issues. A compromise, I would add, that will not find total satisfaction from those of us who are very concerned about charismatic theology and would have wished for an even stronger statement on the matter. Such is the nature of compromise—and cooperation—in SBC life.
Ken Whitten told me, "I do believe that Southern Baptists at the end of the day trust each other. They trust their boards. They trust their denomination. They trust the leadership."
I hope he's correct and if the SBC does address these matters next month in San Antonio that it will affirm the decisions of the IMB. It's time to move on.

This article was originally posted at: http://www.floridabaptistwitness.com/7415.article

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Misc...

... Pastor Wally led someone to Christ tonight on a visit!

... Hannah's dance recital was tonight. She did a great job. Her dance was before the intermission, so I didn't have to stay for the last hour and a half. I really like Hannah's dance studio and teacher (she takes ballet), but I just can't believe parents let their young daughters dance some of the suggestive dances that some of the classes dance. Call me old-fashioned, but I just believe there are some things girls shouldn't do.

... I got the ear tubes. They put in some special tubes that are supposed to last several years. Let's hope.

Noel

Monday, June 4, 2007

Bad and Good

My official day started off early this morning by a call from the hospital that Margaret Williamson had taken a turn for the worse. By 8:30 this morning, she had died. Her family was all with her. It was a very sad time, but we all had an assurance that she was saved and ready to go.

Yesterday, Gene Yoder died. Both funerals will be this Friday.

Afterward I left the hospital I had a funeral to attend, but the day improved from there.

Sam and I took Pastor Frederick to one of the Lifeway bookstores in Columbus. Pastor Frederick is from Kenya. In Kenya, he pastors a church and leads a training center for new pastors. He ministers primarily among the Muslims in the rural part of the country. We had a great time today hearing about his ministry and his church. When we got to the bookstore, he was like a kid in a candy shop. We were able to get him a load of books. He was so appreciative and he told us how pastors from all over will travel to his house to read and study those books.

It was interesting to hear his heart for evangelism and how many of those he leads to Christ have to live as secret Christians for some time because their family will kill them for being a follower of Christ. He told us about people who sneak out of the city and come to his services to worship the true God without being discovered by their families or the Muslim leaders.

It was also very interesting to learn that while their church is very different from ours, many of the problems they face are exactly the same as the problems we face.

Pray for Pastor Frederick and his wife that they will be a blessing to us and we will be a blessing to them while they are here. They fly back home at the end of the month.

Services went well yesterday. It was nice to have the Ferguson family in our morning service and for the dedication of the prayer garden. I hear they all made it safely home.

Well, tomorrow, I get tubes in my ears for the second time in six months. I got them back in December to alleviate a problem that keeps me from flying. The doctor told me then that they would come out in six months to two years. Well they got me through a flight in December and another flight in February, but I discovered on a flight last month that something had gone wrong. A physician in the church used his otoscope Sunday night to confirm that the tubes were gone. So after calling half the ENT's in Ohio, I found one that would see me tomorrow and put more tubes back in. Pray that these will stay in a little longer. It's not a fun (or cheap) procedure.

I'm first place in my fantasy baseball league. It won't last, so I have to brag while I can. I know the only reason they asked me to play was so they would have an easy team to beat every few weeks. I know nothing about baseball. I couldn't even tell you the name of one of my players. But I do know a little about statistics :), and ultimately this is not a baseball game, it is a game of probability and statistics. So, I should more accurately say I'm winning the 'Fantasy Math Game.'

Well, it's bed time.

Noel

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Plugging Along...

I have abstained from blogging until I could top my 'reptile dysfunction' story from my April 12 blog, but no such luck...

(I had a different opening sentence, but Donna made me edit it.)

Things at church are going well. We've got a lot going on in the month of June, not the least of which is Pastor Shawn joining us beginning June 19.

This Sunday we will honor Wib Ferguson, a former pastor who passed away a few months ago. I hope it will be a special day for our church but especially for Wib's wife, Donna.

I'm preaching on "Why do Bad things happen and Why doesn't God stop them?" this Sunday morning. This past Tuesday morning, as I was trying to determine what God would have me preach on for this Sunday morning, I walked out of my study to the break room and bumped into a couple ladies coming out of the prayer garden. They were talking about a lady they had seen on the news who had been abducted and tortured. They asked, rhetorically, "why would God let something like that happen?" That got me thinking and praying... So this Sunday, I'm going to try to give the Bible answer for that question. The argument you hear is...

If God doesn't want to stop evil and tragedy then He must not be good.
If God can't stop evil and tragedy then He must not be powerful.

Or put another way...

How could a good God let bad things happen to good people?

Tough questions, but questions the Bible is not silent about. So this Sunday, I want us to learn the answers to these questions, but more than that, I want us to learn what we should say and do and what our attitudes should be in the face of evil or tragedy. I'm really looking forward to this coming Sunday.

In the evening, I will begin a new series of messages from 1 Timothy that I'm calling, "How To Do Church." We've got a lot of good comments from my series on Jude. Maybe when Pastor Shawn gets here we can get those online.

A kind and generous soul has gotten me and Pastor Wally and our wives tickets to the Memorial for tommorrow. I sort of thought the tournament officials would have called me when Phil Mickelson got hurt yesterday to see if I could fill his slot, but they must have lost my number. Oh well, I'm looking forward to going. I want to stand right behind Tiger Woods when he has one of his 350 yard drives and just see what that looks like.

For my FBC readers, Margaret Williamson did very well in her surgery today. It was a life or death situation, but the Lord has pulled her through.

Pray for Gene Yoder and his family. Gene is probably in his final hours. He made a profession of faith a couple weeks ago, and I feel really good about his decision and his heart. One of his sons made a profession of faith the same day, and I got to share a little with one of his friends today. Good things are beginning to happen in that family.

Two ladies, both of whom recently became Christ followers, are scheduled for baptism this Sunday!

I'm running out of battery on my laptop and I still need to check on my baseball team. I better go...

Pastor Noel

Monday, April 23, 2007

A Reason to Celebrate

We had a good day at Church yesterday!

Four people were baptized in the morning service after making professions of faith in the last couple of weeks. We have ended every morning service with baptisms for at least two months now. That is a reason to celebrate!

Two teen girls made professions of faith in their CONNECT GROUP yesterday. They made their decisions public in the morning worship service. That is a reason to celebrate!

We voted to approve our new Worship Pastor at the end of the morning service. He has accepted our call and will begin serving on the field on June 19. That is a reason to celebrate!

Our Global Focus missions emphasis begins this Wednesday. I was just in the worship center and saw the hundred or more flags they are setting up in preparation for the first service. Things are coming together. I believe we will see people's lives change in the next seven days. That is a reason to celebrate!

I won my fantasy baseball game last night. I am second in the league, but more importantly, I'm ahead of Pastor Wally. That might not be a reason to celebrate, but it is at least a reason to smile really big.

Pastor Noel Dear

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Ohio Weather

I guess when you live in the south all your life, you get used to how weather is 'supposed' to work. The things you 'Ohioans' take for granted are really odd to us southerners...

Last night we had a thunderstorm with hail. Big hail. In the south hail is something they talk about on the news and issue warnings for, but I had probably only seen it a half dozen times in my life before I moved here (unless you count tiny, tiny hail). Because of the the upcoming move, my garage is filled with boxes so my cars were in the driveway. I'm scared to go look at them. Last week we had one or two days that got into the 80's and three days of SNOW! That is just cruel.

Other news...

I am looking forward to this weekend with our new music minister candidate being on the field. I expect Sunday to be a great day.

My uncle in Dallas passed away a couple days ago. I will be doing the funeral there tomorrow. I will actually be flying out of the Columbus airport at the same time Shawn, our music minister candidate, will be flying in. I hope to be able to speak with him in the terminal prior to departing, but I'm thinking the Southwest terminal (his airline) and the American Airlines terminal (my airline) are not connected in Columbus.

Can I share some humor with you even if it is a little PG 13? (I don't suppose kids read this blog.) Donna was gone somewhere a few days ago and I was watching one of my favorite television shows, Modern Marvels, on the History Channel. The girls had sat down to have a snack and were watching it with me. As you probably know, television commercials have really changed in the last few years and while you can be very careful about the programming your kids see on TV it is more difficult to control the commercials they see. Well the first commercial was for medicine for genital herpes which led to a difficult question from Hannah, my eight year old. As I was talking to Hannah trying to half answer the question and half change the subject, another commercial came on. Emily, my five year old, was watching the second commercial while I was trying to explain the first. When my explanation to Hannah was over, Emily referring to the second commercial asked, "Daddy, what is REPTILE DISFUNCTION?"

What do you say?

I told her it was when a lizard or a snake had emotional problems and didn't fit in with society.

Noel Dear

Sunday, April 8, 2007

A Great Easter

What a great Resurrection Day! Well over 800 people joined us for worship this morning; the choir and praise team did a good job; several people baptized; two people made professions of faith...

(Did you know the reason we worship on Sunday is that Jesus rose from the grave on Sunday. So, in some sense, every Sunday is Resurrection Day. Why can't we have a day like today every Sunday?)

There is a great deal coming up the next few weeks. Here are the biggest two...

  • This coming weekend, we have a worship minister candidate coming in view of a call. I believe Sunday will be a great day. I am looking forward to where God is leading us as a church!
  • The Global Focus missions conference is just around to corner. This will be a pivotal event for our church.

Be in prayer for these events...

Noel

Monday, April 2, 2007

Five Baptisms

We had a great day at church yesterday. Good crowd, good spirit, good response at the invitation and FIVE people baptized. What a great way to kick off Easter week.

Our deacons did a great job with the crucifixion drama and Lord's Supper last night. I've had calls, emails, and visits throughout the day with people talking about how much it impacted their lives (and then there was Lindy :)).

For the first time ever, I'm playing in a fantasy baseball league. I don't know anything about baseball. Two weeks ago, I couldn't even name a baseball player. But I survived the draft and today the season began. I'm not even sure whether or not I have a good team, but as of 8:52 p.m. I am beating Lowell Jump's team 11-10. This is probably the only time this season I will have any kind of lead so I thought I would write about it. If I don't mention it on my blog again, you will know I'm losing pretty badly. The neat thing is that one of the guys in the church who is playing in the league (Jimmy McCrillis) is playing from the battle field in Afghanistan. He was even able to participate in the live draft although I think it was something like 4:00 in the morning when he did.

I'm looking forward to Easter Sunday. We've got two worship services in the morning. We're hoping for a big crowd. Pray for those who might come to church this week who would not ordinarily attend.

I'm blogging because 'Dancing with the Stars' is on, but the OSU - Florida B'ball game will be on shortly.

I'm trying to get Donna to make strawberry cobbler, but I'm not having much luck. Maybe she'll read this in a minute and make one. Maybe.

Time for the game...

Noel

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Some Things I'm Thankful For

  • The bank finally accepted our offer to buy the house we had been wanting. We didn't have to go way up on our offer, we just had to jump through all of their hoops.

  • We have a worship pastor candidate coming in view of a call on April 15!

  • I beat Pastor Wally in golf this week.

  • My wife has agreed to have a yard sale this weekend, and she is in the 'let's get rid of everything we don't need' mood. Finally.

  • The Global Focus Missions conference is almost here!

  • Easter is almost here!

Noel

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Wildlife Supper

Our men did a very good job on tonight's Wildlife Supper. Good food. Good crowd. Good program.

Buddy Davis from Answers In Genesis shared about his recent trip to Alaska in search of unfossilized dinosaur bones. It was very interesting and informative.

I'm looking forward to worship tomorrow. I'll be beginning a new morning worship series. For the next three weeks, we will take a look at Easter through the eyes of Peter. Peter had three key encounters with Jesus during the time leading up to the crucifixion and immediately following the resurrection. We will look at one of these each week. Tomorrow we will be in John 13. We are going to look at the time when Jesus washed the disciples' feet, but we're not going to look at it in the way you would expect. I hope we will learn something new tomorrow that will have an impact on people's lives.

Pastor Noel

Friday, March 23, 2007

Still Learning

My quiet time Scripture reading this morning was 2 Corinthians 10-13. In the first ten verses of 2 Corinthians 12, Paul talks about how he learned the lesson of the suffiency of grace. Paul learned that all he really needed in life was the grace of God.

That made me think of a couple verses I will be preaching on this coming Sunday evening:

Philippians 4:6-7 NKJ Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Then I thought of my blog laments about how frustrating this house process has become and how anxious I am to have some resolution. (It's pretty embarrassing when we sin so publically.)

I confessed. I followed the instructions in Philippians 4:6. God fulfilled his promise given in Philippians 4:7. I'm through with my anxious complaining. There will be no 'House Saga IV' blog post.

Lesson learned... for now.

Pastor Noel

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The House Saga III

Well?

Nope. Not a word from the seller...

Noel

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The House Saga II

Well?

Nope. Not a word from the seller...

Noel

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The House Saga

So we made an offer on the house with a pre-approval letter as per the bank's instructions. The bank (a bank owns the house) turned it down because the pre-approval letter was not from their own bank. Then we went through the process again and submitted an offer with their letter. They turned it down. Then we submitted a higher offer. They turned it down. Then we submitted a new higher offer. They turned it down and commented... "We haven't really had an issue with the money you have been offering, we just can't consider your offers in the form they are presented."

Yea. Thanks for the heads up on that.

So I guess we are back to square one.

We presented a new offer, with the correct pre-approval letter, in the correct form. What will go wrong tomorrow?

The saga continues.

Actually we aren't that frustrated. I have a peace about the whole thing. If this isn't the house for us, then we'll just look for another. We probably won't submit another offer after this one unless it is just to come up a little and see if the bank will come down to our number.

We couldn't move until after our Global Focus conference is over anyway. If we bought the house now I would have to make payments on two places for a month. So there is no real hurry.

If you think about it, pray for us.

Noel

Monday, March 19, 2007

March Madness

March Madness has begun. No not the NCAA Basketball Tourney... I'm talking about 'Dancing with the Stars.'

This is the girls' favorite show so we all watch it as a family, or I should say, the three of them watch it and I work on the computer. (Thank God for laptops!)

Today was a pretty good day. Troy came by the church today to tell me about another teen who made a profession of faith last night after church. I won't steal her thunder by telling you who it is now, but I think she will make it public this Sunday. A few weeks ago, we spent a Sunday morning going over the theology of baptism. Since then, many peole have been taking a close look at whether their baptism was 'in order.' Pastor Wally shared with me today that he had someone else speak with him about wanting to be baptized last night. It has been an encouraging day.

During the last commercial break in 'Dancing with the used-to-be Stars,' they said that Coke has changed its formula for religious reasons. I'm not sure what they've done or why, but I think there is a sermon in that.

I may have some very good news to share with the church Sunday...

By the way, no word on the house. We thought we would hear today if they accepted our offer but we didn't. Maybe tomorrow.

Later...

Pastor Noel

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Time to Blog

I took a prospect family out to dinner tonight and even they poked fun at me for having a blog I never update... So I'll try to do better :)

Pastor Wally preached for me tonight. He preached the best message I've heard him preach. It was timely and convicting!

Tomorrow we find out if the second offer we've made on a house we want to buy will be accepted. I fear it will not. We are praying that everything will fall into place if this is God's plan.

This week is Global Focus week around the office. I hope to get all of the Global Focus stuff settled and decided. I could really use some prayers as we try to wrap up these preparations.

I went over to listen to the youth praise band do a song tonight. They did a very good job. I've asked Troy to preach one Sunday night in the next few weeks. When he does, we'll have the youth praise band play. Everyone will be pleasantly surprised.

This morning in worship service I interviewed one of the young men in the church (Jason Roundtree). Jason did a great job and had a big impact in several people's lives. If I wouldn't have called him by his wife's name (Jami) at the beginning of the interview, it would have been perfect :)

I've had way too many nights away from home. Tomorrow night, NOTHING IS GOING ON! I'm very excited. If the weather is good, I may grill some steaks. Y'all come!

This morning one of the projectors kept blinking once a second while we showed a DVD background to a praise and worship song. I had it working early this morning. This is the second or third time this has happened. There is a $50 reward for anyone who can fix it.

Enough randomness for one blog entry...

Pastor Noel

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Attitude

Several people asked this morning for a copy of the Swindoll quote on ATTITUDE that I shared in my a.m. message, and also people asked for the 'fragrance' verses that I used but that didn't make it into the outline hand-out. (Carla writes the outlines for the bulletin inserts on Wednesday from whatever draft of the message I have done by then. Sometimes the message changes a little between Wednesday and Sunday. Usually the outline doesn't change, but the supporting verses sometimes do.)

As you requested...

Charles Swindoll: "The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company, a church, or a home. The remarkable thing is that we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace. We cannot change our past. Nor can we change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it. And so it is with you—we are in charge of our attitudes."

Fragrance Verses: 2 Corinthians 2:14-15 NKJ Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.

Pastor Noel Dear

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Things To Pray For...

Here are some things you can put on your prayer list...
  • Global Focus... Things are coming together for our big missions conference in April. I spent some time today talking to some people in Baltimore about how our church can be involved in church planting there. They are excited... I am excited...
  • Music Pastor Search... I was at the nursing home today visiting Jean Rine. As I was leaving, sweet little Miss Jean said, "Pastor sit down, I need to talk to you about something!" It startled me. I sat down as I was told. She said, "Pastor, we've gone long enough without a music pastor. I want to know when we will have one!" I said, "Yes Mam, I get the message."
  • We are working on arrangements (and finances) to bring Pastor Fredrick, the pastor of the church in Kenya that we work with, to spend a few weeks with us. We need several things to fall into place (and several dollars).
  • Donna George is starting a new Connect Group for ladies...
  • Beth Moore Simulcast...
  • Upward Basketball...
  • AWANA...
  • ...

Noel

Saturday, January 13, 2007

What's Up

  • Upward Basketball is going great. We just finished week two of games. This year we have between 550 and 600 kids playing or cheerleading. Come out and watch a game next Friday evening or Saturday. It will be a real treat.
  • Music Pastor search is progressing. The search team met with someone last week. We are in the 'intense prayer' part of the process. Join us by praying often for this need in our church.
  • Our Global Focus conference is getting closer. We'll be talking more and more about this as a church. This is going to be a big step for our church. We will never be the same again after this kick-off!
  • The push for additional AWANA workers worked well last week. We could still use more people, even if all you do is come and listen to kids say Bible verses it would be a big help (and it is a lot of fun).
  • Great response to the "Facing the Giants" movie we showed on New Year's Eve. We will probably show it again due to so many requests. If you would like to see it again and have another chance to invite friends and family, let me know.
  • Pastor Jeff and I are trying to get to Baltimore in the next week or two. Baltimore is going to be a stategic focus city in 2008. We are hoping that we may have an opportunity as a church to help them start new churches in that city. Pray that God will give us direction in this decision.
  • Everyone in the family if finally well. Finally!!!
  • I was sad that OSU didn't win the National Title but at least a team that had lost to Auburn did. That is like half way winning the title.

Noel