Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Worth of Jesus

Years ago, Maurice Wright, a British farmer, bought a large painting at a neighborhood auction for less than $4 and stored it in his barn. After it collected cobwebs for several years, Wright's accountants noticed the painting and wondered if it was worth anything.
The farmer's accountant took a color picture of the painting and sent the picture to Christy's, a respected London auction firm. Surprisingly, he learned that the painting was the work of Thomas Daniell, a highly acclaimed 19th century artist.
Art critics had been aware of the existence of a missing 1808 Daniell, but its whereabouts had been a mystery for more than a century. Wright sold the painting at an auction for more than $90,000.
Imaging finding something that valuable in a barn!
Over 2000 years ago, Wise Men discovered a priceless treasure in a manger. They lavished their gifts and admiration on the baby Jesus. It was unlikely that the long awaited Messiah would be discovered laying in a manger, but there He was. Here lay the most precious gift ever to arrive on the earth.
When looking for that "perfect" gift for loved ones this Christmas, consider Jesus. Tell loved ones about the most costly, yet free gift ever found. Offer the eternal gift of life this Christmas season.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Good Friday is the Christian's "Veterans Day"

We remember. The veterans who served us through their many selfless sacrifices. One such veteran enlisted in February 1942 into a war that would end 3 1/2 years later. His trip begins in Dallas and Brownwood, Texas. He had to cut short his education at Texas A & I in Kingsville to serve his country. While at Brownwood he helped two friends, Kirby & Slim. They hadn't made it to high school so they needed help writing letters home. All Kirby & Slim knew was hard work on the shrimp boats. September came and the veteran was riding the rails to Fort Dix, NJ. A week long trip and then onto a South African banana boat headed to Birmingham, England. Three weeks packed like sardines, they dodged German submarines. 120 ships heading across the North Atlantic.

All they knew was that they were there to stop the evil that had already swept Europe. They weren't ready to lay down their life for family, friends and country, but they did their best to prepare themselves for this possibility.
Almost 2000 years ago another prepared to lay down His life for everyone. The day is Friday and the darkness of the world would soon signal the death of this lone Man. What our service veterans did for us closely parallels what Jesus did for us on the cross. We own much to those fallen soldiers but we owe everything to Jesus. Freedom comes with a cost that can only be satisfied through humility of mind and thoughts about others. That was Jesus' way. He left us the memory of His life to give us the life that we enjoy today.

Whether World Wars, conflicts or operations, there will always be a time to remember those who made our life possible today. Don't waste their sacrifice. Don't ignore the life of our Lord Jesus.
Oh, the "veteran"? He's my Dad. Thanks Dad. Perhaps more later on his experiences.

A special thanks to Amber Magness for her interview with my Father.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Home Field Advantage for Ministry


Sometimes in ministry, you have to make a "home field advantage.' No one gives it to you. Usually this means two things: building leaders and encouraging members. No ministry runs on "auto pilot". Every month if not every week, you need to contact every leader and make sure they will be there. No matter what their responsibility is, they have to show up. If it is to make coffee in the classroom, hang out with students or check families in at the preschool. We have to get good at showing up. Showing up can be as important as breathing: inhale... exhale. Inhale information, exhale people skills. But we have to be there!

How should we encourage members? Encouragement is spelled T-I-M-E. We have to invest time. At times, it requires us to invite people into our lives. We don't have time, do we? But, we do shop. We go places. We eat and drink coffee. We do errands. There's our time. If we want home field advantage in ministry, we take someone with us. Jesus seemed to always have three and usually 12 guys hanging around Him. These guys saw Jesus do everything. They saw the drama. They felt the pain. They experienced the struggles. They did life together.

In short: you don't have to plan a program. Just invite people into your life. That's home field advantage!

Monday, September 20, 2010

More Beautiful Canada.






We are in Grand Falls, New Brunswick. There is a water fall there, but it is grander in the spring during the spring snow melt. Our B & B was wonderful. On older house with gracious hosts. We were greeted with hot tea and cookies when we arrived. There wasn't a great selection for supper, so we tried some "pub grub." "Try the potatoes" we were advised. This land is also known for potato production. We had hoped to locate a church for Sunday worship, but the English speaking Baptist church in town had closed down. We tried in other towns to located a worship service, but we settled for our daily Bible reading along the way.

Church buildings were everywhere. We must assume that people are religious about something. We'll be glad to get back to our sweet home church at Anderson MIll.

As we travel toward Quebec, the scenery changes. The beauty is changing and the homes are losing their charm. We notice that most signs are in French (I guess). Though I had 2 years of French in high school, it doesn't help much. Except for a few familiar vocabulary words, it is very foreign. We look for those universal international signs for McDonald's and enjoy a large coffee.




Sunday, September 19, 2010

Beautiful Gardens




There were beautiful plants everywhere. Sedum and hostas were the plants of choice. Though the growing season is short, the milder climate makes thes plants and flowers grow bigger and vibrant. Flowering plants were gorgeous and plentiful. It was had to limit the pictures to just a few shots.Many businesses also chose flowers to highlight their locations. Many used vegetables and crops to draw attention to their unique offerings. We favored bakeries, farm stands and farmers markets as places to browse and of course, purchase tasty travel food.

It was harvest time, so all varieties of pumpkins and gourds were decorating highway corners and front yards. We just couldn't resist.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Land of Green Gables (and a 70 mile Garage Sale!)


WOW! Even though the rain has dampened the day, this place is certainly worth the trip. We've enjoyed eating apples, PEI jellies and jams and some great food. Our daughter Karen told us to take along another suitcase for collectables. We collected lots of rocks from NB and now we're in the hunt for garage sale stuff. Did I mention apples! I've never seen and tasted so many great varieties of apples. Many of these varieties don't make it to the Texas market because of shipping characteristics of some apples.
Our final day on PEI was treasure hunt. We had such fun and met some wonderful people from a variety of people. We'll head for NB and Quebec tomorrow. We'll share some beautiful pics of PEI flowers and other organic stuff.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What a beautiful place.





We arrived on PEI across the Confederation Bridge. It is free to get onto the island, but you have to pay to get off! Our first full day was full of everything but rain. We visited a bottle house, twoactually. A catholic man started recycling empty candle jars and mortared them into the malls of two houses. Quite interesting.





They grow a lot of potatoes and they the even have a potato museum. They are harvesting
potatoes right now. Apples are in and they are good. We tried some Johnny Mac apples and they were good. Fruit and veggies are plentiful and cheap. They have a lot of festivals. This weekend seems to be loaded with opportunities. One place is having a scarecrow contest. I think that what it supposed to be. You judge!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

O, Canada!


We made it to Canada! We're celebrating 31 wonderful years as married, Best Friends. It is so much fun doing something with someone you enjoy.New Brunswick is a neat place. We found a really classic place.

We moved briefly into Nova Scotia, but the rain prevented any more than that. Perhaps on the return trip we can spend more time. We are finding some cute fire stations, mostly volunteers. No one could operate without an army of volunteers.

More homemade bread makes a wonderful day. We manage to locate some good coffee shops and that keeps us warm and going! Zing!!

We make it to PEI late in the afternoon. A cute farm house and some gracious hosts make a
good impression. The people staying here came from all over. Some spoke French, Japanese and that other language- Jersey! What an eclectic group.

We made a quick jaunt to the Green Gables area before retiring for the day. This is only part of the charm for the island. Certainly the greatest treasure lies within the people who live here and come here. Tomorrow we will see some quirky stuff and hopefully some great PEI apples and fruit


Monday, September 13, 2010

We're off!


The Lord is so good to give us a church family who allows us some time to recharge. We're on our way north and it is so good to have some wonderful parts of the US & Canada to visit. We weren't long in to Maine before we had to stop for some fresh baked bred and blueberry jam. We made stops at L.L. Bean and the Village Candle factory. Two places Jan and I had wanted to visit.

We stayed at a former governor's home, The Baxter House. Great innkeepers from England. They have great plans to complete the restoration of the home and the gardens.


We are headed for St. John, New Brunswick. More later...




Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tuesday- Read, Read, Read!

Spend time reading the passage. Read it in context. Even if you are familiar with the verses above & below the lesson passage, re-read. Look for key words. Note: God, Jesus Christ and Holy Spirit are always key words. Words repeated often in a passage help me to see the point and applications will usually have their anchor in these key words.

Look for contrasts. Proverbs has the best example of contrasts. They usually are polarized words (light- dark, wisdom-folly, sin- righteousness).

Notice any time words such as when, now, or immediately. They help define action, either past present or future. Timing is everything with God.

Begin to study the lesson outline in view of the passage. Usually, the series of lessons will have a common thread. Using this common thread, develop a "POINT" and reinforce this point at the end of each section of scripture, Help learners remember the point through the use of objects, illustration or stories. You may even choose a song to help remember the "POINT." Jesus used everyday objects in culture to help people remember the message long after He was gone.

Be sure to gather any props early in the week. Many good lessons have diminished lasting effect because the teacher forgot to bring the objects, song or other visual aid.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Making a Plan- Monday

It's Monday and time to layout the basic plan for the lesson. There are three basic plans I like to integrate in a lesson:
  • Asking Good Questions
  • Parable or object lessons
  • Discussion
Questions help learners THINK about personal application of a passage of scripture. Jesus would use questions to answer a question others asked of Him.

Objects help focus the learners (and the teacher!) on the focus of the lesson. Jesus used everyday objects to teach a spiritual point. Imagine every time you see a particular object, you think about a spiritual truth. There's not a time I see a fig tree that I don't think about Jesus cursing the fig tree.

Sitting down and talking about an aspect of life was used by Jesus from His youth onward. Discussion doesn't mean lecture. Learners have the opportunity to share their personal take or change option with others in the class.

Resources like the LifeWay Quicksource Leader plan book offer helps for each of these approaches to teaching. Take a moment to blend all three approaches into your lesson each week.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Crafting a Lesson- Part 1

Time is the biggest enemy of preparing a life changing lesson. As teachers, we are able to work with the eternal Word of God. Though we desire to prepare and present a life changing message, time seems to leak away each week. Saturday night comes and we have barely thought about the Sunday's lesson, much less prepared any thing of substance for our class. Sound familiar?

I am not talking about a "Home Run" lesson each and every Sunday, but our Lord and our class deserve much more. So here's ONE 'How to" that may help you use time to your advantage rather than be overcome by the lack of time.

Begin as soon as the previous lesson is completed and presented on Sunday. If I take just a few minutes on Sunday afternoon to preview the lesson direction and a few additional minutes to read the larger passage, my heart begins the process of working through the scriptures and the suggested talking points. Notice I said "heart." That is where the life change takes place in my life and this is the target for the members of the class.

Sometimes there are great teaching tools such as LifeWay's "Quicksource Leader" book for their "Explore the Bible (ETB) Series". My personal favorite is the "Parable Plan". Quicksource suggests a common object to use during the lesson to keep the class focussed on the life change principle.

I find taking an extra look at the beginning of a quarter, will help me stay focused on where the scriptures are headed. Remember, it's only Sunday. We begin by taking a cursory look.

More later...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Millennials

The Reality
I recently read an article by Thom Rainer of LifeWay, in which he discussed the generation from form 1980-1991- The Millennials. As America's largest generation, this generation represents also the greatest lostness in relationship to a personal faith in Jesus. Of the 80 million in this generation, only 15 percent have a relationship with the Savior, Jesus Christ.(Romans 10:9-11).

The Hope
We serve a mighty God and His Word is true and sure. The 68 million who are opportunities for witnessing, should first bring us to our knees and then to our feet. Our generation must confess the sin of silence and begin sharing Jesus without fear. They won't know unless we tell.

The Challenge
Our next Share Jesus Without Fear classes begin August 22 & 25, 2010. You can register by clicking here. Join the 30+ others at Anderson Mill who recently completed the last Share Jesus Without Fear class. Don't wait. Millions are waiting to hear.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Making a Difference!

We've been learning how to share Jesus with people we meet. Today I met a couple of people in a business. I wondered how the conversation might flow as I prayed for an opportunity to share Jesus with them. The person who helped me was willing to share about their weekend and I didn't see how to make an opening for spiritual conversation. The other person, however, was the key. I suppose this person was the manager. "We get a lot of churches on Monday," they said. I saw the door open and I asked the question, "Where do you go to church when you get a Sunday off?" "I go the church of golf," the one said. "I guess the 'Green Family" needs religion too," I countered. The other person didn't go at all to church and didn't seem interested in continuing this conversation.

I'm sure I'll have other opportunities to share with the one and certainly pray for the other. The "golfer" did say they had been to AMBC a few times for special community events.

Are you ready when the opportunity comes? Others are counting on it.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Free Online Training from Lifeway


LifeWay Resources is offering free online training on Sunday, July 11, 2010 from 3-5 pm (CST). You can register directly with LifeWay at http://www.lifeway.com/event/359/

There are great resources you can download including speaker notes, bios on presenters and more. Invite a group to join you on a Sunday afternoon for some special encouragement. Get more information from our area LifeWay rep, Pat Ford on his blog.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Share Jesus Without Fear


Not every Christian will be willing to share their story with another person Some have said than fewer that 1 in 10 will ever share their story with someone. If you would like to be one of those who want to share their story with another person, but may be fearful of something, there's hope. There may be many reasons why we don't talk to someone but, if there was hope of overcoming those fears, would you take the next step? Beginning Sunday, June 27, 2010, Tom Stoner will be starting a 4-week class for anyone who would be willing to take that next step and learn how to "Share Jesus Without Fear." You can register on the resource page of our website (www.ambcaustin.org) or by clicking on this link: Share Jesus Without Fear

I hope you will take a break for 4 weeks and gain the confidence you need to know that the story you share will have lasting benefits in the life of a friend or relative.

Friday, May 21, 2010

How Clean is Your Hotel?

Summer is coming and many will take vacations. While travelers want a clean room to stay in (and at a bargain price), we may not think to ask if our rooms are clean in the viewing aspect, the Television. Pornography is on the increase through the Internet, social websites, even cell phones. Though we would never invite pornography through the front door of our motel room, we run the risk of opening the door through the motel television and pay for view "adult movies". When booking rooms for the family vacation, ask the reservation desk if the rooms offer "adult movies." If so, beware. Websites such as www.cleanhotels.com may help in selecting a family friendly environment for your vacation stays. These sites often can tell you before you call for reservations if the hotel has already been reported as "clean" for families. You can even report your experiences in hotels not listed on the website.

About 20 years ago, hotels began offering "adult movies", according to Phil Burress of the Cincinnati based Citizens for Community Values. According to www.cleanhotels.com, about 40% of hotels in America offer hard-core pornography in their rooms through pay-per-view services.

Proverbs 22:3 A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.

Don't let the bed bugs bite
and be aware of other dangers to your vacation. Enjoy the summer!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Is this the church for me?


Sometimes we find ourselves having to look for a new church family. Hopefully, this happens when we move out of town from our present church. How do I find a new place of worship and service? This is often the hardest challenge for a family. Here are some things to consider when looking for a potential church.
  1. Is the church true to God's Word?
  2. Are people being saved there?
  3. Is there evidence of changed lives?
  4. Are members excited about asking their friends to join them at church?
  5. Do I feel welcome?
  6. How do they assimilate new members into the life of the church?
  7. Are people building quality friendships within the church?
  8. How does the church develop new leaders?
Some of these will be easier to observe that others and there may be other things you personally want to see. Some items may not seem important at first, but may be very important later on. Take enough time to make sure you can see lives being changed.
Some aspects of finding a new church family may be on your "non-negotiable" list. These are things your can't compromise or ignore. These 8 questions are important if you're looking to make a difference in your family, community and the world. Notice that I haven't included anything about convenience. Do you homework. Spend time praying and asking God to show you the DNA of the church. Once you call it "Home" serve and worship with all your strength.

Note: We didn't stop at Goose Creek Baptist Church except for this picture.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

One Year's Weeds- Seven Year's Seeds


I heard this on a radio gardening show years ago. Dewey Compton was the friend of every farmer, gardener and landscaper in the Houston area. Last night I returned home from a meeting and had just enough light to go outside and pull some weeds in my neighbor's yard. They are out of town and I have been looking after their place. I was about finished when I heard a voice behind me. He called to me again and this time I turned and see a high school student walking toward me with earbuds, and MP3 player in tow. He asked what I was doing and wondered if he could help. "Sure," I said. (I had just gotten to the hard part- the crab grass.) He sat down and began to pull weeds. He said he was bored and was walking so he could pass the time. We dropped handles and bio stuff about our families.

The pile of pulled weeds was growing larger and the conversation was coming around to the future (he would graduate next year.) "Not good enough for big college but too good for community college," were his words. I asked him about church attendance and for the next few minutes we waded through some fast moving, but shallow water about God, religion, his beliefs and my testimony. The weeds were almost gone as was the light. My friend stood up and offered me a hand. We left the door open for future encounters in the yard and parted ways.

'One year's weeds, seven year's seeds." I pray that the seeds that were planted that night would produce a harvest- not of weeds, but of the soul. I am praying that as we all do work, that we will be tuned in to hearing when someone calls our name. Be ready at any hour of the day or night.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Life's Healing Choices- Choice 2


Earnestly believe that God exists. This is the second choice we must make. We say we believe in God, but our actions indicate otherwise. I need to believe that I matter to God and only God has the power to help me. All the books in all the books stores will now provide the help I need to have freedom from my habit.

"Happy are those who mourn, for they will be comforted."


God wants us to relate to Him. He desires to know us in significant ways. We can see God in nature. We can see God in our surroundings, but we can only experience God through His Son, Jesus Christ. Read Psalm 139:-1-18 to see how God designed us. We are on the road to RECOVERY.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Life's Healing Choices- Choice 1


April 11. 2010 will start our study in the Beatitudes (Matthew 5). Each Beatitude is the background for choices each of us have to make in order to have freedom from our hurts, hang-ups and habits. Here is the first choice we need to make: Realize that I'm not God. No one can control our tendency to do wrong. Will power alone isn't enough to control anger, over-eating, addictions or any of the baggage that entangles us in every day living. Only the Holy Spirit can provide the lasting power to have victory.

One translation of the first Beatitude reads: "Happy are those who know they are spiritually poor."
Be sure to attend each of the 8 Sunday during our "Life's Healing Choices" study. Don't forget to invite a friend. They'll be glad you did.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Life's Healing Choices

Please join us for these great studies into the Beatitudes of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount.

Good Bye, Dr. Dobson


I finished reading the final newsletter from Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family. What a wonderful God we serve. Since 1977, Dr. Dobson has lead the way for the family. He has stood firm on the values in God's Word which have paved the way for this man and his family to be an example of what God will do through someone who is wholly committed to God and His word. Jan & I visited the Focus on the Family headquarters last September (for the second time) and were once again reminded how much God loves the family.

Others will take up the banner for the family as Dr. and Shirley Dobson close this chapter in their life. I know our family has been greatly impacted by the ministry of Focus on the Family. Thanks for the memories. Now, may our dreams be bigger than our memories.

Note: Jan & I listen to "Adventures in Odyssey" every night before we go to bed.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Life's Healing Choices


Anderson Mill is preparing for our 8-week study on Life's Healing Choices. This is one of Saddleback Community Church's campaignes designed to help people have freedom from their hurts, hang-ups and habits. I have the "3 H's" and I am in need of recovery. The reality of my 3 H's is that I make choices to make room for these in my life. I'm not perfect and as I learned in the first session of the preview, I have to quit playing God.

Talk about reality. I am confronted by several realities related to the 3 H's:
  • I can no longer pretend that I can control things, especially people.
  • I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.
  • I have to get freedom for my pain.
  • I can't change the past.
Here's the invitation: Would you join me on this journey to freedom? Each Adult Bible Fellowship will be working through the 8 Beatitudes in Jesus' Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5. We begin on Sunday, April 11, 2010.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Metrorail


I took a break from the usual on Friday and did the unusual. I rode the Austin MetroRail as a test commuter. What fun! Back and forth during the day, almost 100 volunteers and Metro staff rode the rail and buses to test the system. Metro fed us barbecue as we debriefed our experiences and recommendations. People from all over the area and from various walks of life shared in the wonderful day.

The route goes form Leander to downtown in about 50 minutes. With 8 stops, the rail is a great way to travel. They have connector buses to get you from the stops to your final destination. Overall, it was a good experience. Hopefully I can get Jan to go with me the first week of operation (beginning March 22, 2010) when it is free. There's a Starbucks one block from the end of the line. Take your
computer because there is Wi-Fi available on the rail.

Thanks Jan, for giving me the day to do this.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Landmark 6- Leaving Home

When I returned from Texas A & M University, my father asked me to come help him at work for about 6 months. His office manager had some health issues and he needed time to find another one. I knew the industry and said OK. Six months turned in to one year and then 18 years. I thought that during that time I would just move back home and back into my room. It was as if I had only been gone for 4 years. My Dad said, "NO!" He and Mom had gotten used to the empty nest and I had to find my own place. They had prepared for me to leave home following high school graduation.

Someone said that humans are the only species that let their young return home. It is a landmark when our students prepare to graduate, leave home and start their own lives, following their own values. Whether it is public, private or home school, our students graduate and make this next landmark.

When our oldest graduated from homeschooling, we gathered all those important people in his life and had a celebration. We gave him a diploma, a class ring and he went to work. He stayed for a while until me found a place to live and has never looked back.

When our youngest graduated from homeschooling, we had his set of influential people over for a celebration. We gathered under the magnolia tree in our yard which bore yearly carvings of dates as the he climbed that tree and made his mark growing up. Then he was off to college.

Before they left, we spoke blessing into their lives. They had life skills, money sense, a love for God's Word and a strong support group.

Jan & I hoped we had given enough of the right stuff to each so they could be responsible on their own. Jan had poured scripture into their hearts and taught them where to find answers in God's Word. In preparing them to leave home, we took them with us rather than sending them alone on mission trips, retreats and special events. We wanted them to know we were their peer group. Sure, they had friends, but our design was to have them trust in God who was with them at all times, especially when they left home.


Jeremiah 29:11 'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.

No one raises perfect children. That's why we pray for them at all times. That never stops no matter where they are or how old they get.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Landmark 5- Rite of Pasage

Transition. It is a time when one goes from:
  • A lover of self to a lover of God.
  • Doing childish things to doing mature things.
  • Being served to serving.
This is a time discovering your biblical role, whether as a man or a woman. It is a time of knowing who we are in Christ. For a young man, it is learning why you made a covenant with your eyes. For a young lady, it is keeping your heart with all vigilance. (Prov. 4:23) For a parent, it is a time to transfer to a new role, one of giving godly advice and allowing God to guide our son's and daughter's hearts. This is a time for parents to discover that they have partners in ministry in their sons and daughters. Make this is a season of celebration with friends and family.

There will be more on this when a parent shares his experience in celebrating this time of transition for his sons.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Milestone 4- Purity (part 2)

How can we help our students win the purity battle? One skirmish at a time. Often I lose the war in an area of my life because I try to take back what was lost in just one battle. We regain the ground the same way we gave it up. One step at a time. I can't get to a place tomorrow if I don't know where I am today. What areas have I given up in the area of purity? Often I can't begin to name all the places I left my character. A little here and a little there. This endeavor, that hobby, over there. Only God knows and so I begin by asking Him to find all the pieces to purity in the life of my student. (Good practice for this is asking God to re-unite all the pieces of my heart in the area of purity. He'll do it.)

Friends. What friendships do I need to encourage in the life of my student? Remember, our goal is purity. If our student doesn't have any good friends, that's where I start. Be creative in the way you inquire about friends. Get involved at whatever level you are allowed and work from there. If you vote your stock too soon by saying "because I'm your father", we'll suffer a set back. Ask questions. Don't preach sermons.

Dating and courtship. One comment: Treat your spouse in a way your student will want to treat their opposite sex friends. For the student, purity is modeled in the life of the parent.

Boundaries. Yes. And lots of them. Let students watch you build the fences. Talk to them so they know why we observe limitations. Many of our boundaries deal with issue of time. "When can I...?" Even as students grow up, talk about how important right timing is in every process of life

Celebrate Find one thing to remind students about purity. Every time they see that special object, hear a certain code word, or recall a person, they associate this image with a vow to purity. For some, it may be a ring or an annual event or a personal gift. I'll never forget a conversation with my father in the area of purity and faithfulness. When I wondered one time how he was able to remain faithful to my Mom. he responded, "Wasn't that what I was supposed to do?" Someone modeled purity for him and so I was able to model purity for my sons. Can it be this simple? Yes! Note: I didn't say is was easy.

Show me your friends and I'll show you your future.

Milestone 4- Purity

This is a tough one. Not because we can't experience purity in our life, but because the odds are against us. Barna & Gallup polls reveal that 9 out of 10 Christians do not live the Christ life they confess. That is pressure we don't need. The world values alone are hard combatants, but "we are our own worst enemy" when it comes to purity. Usually we associate purity with "things we do" but the headwaters of purity lie in the "things we are."

Students are looking in a lot of places for their identity and values. Often they leave home with one set of values (Dan & Mom's), usually good ones, only to jettison them along the way as they develop their own "new" set of values. Every day our students wrestle with surroundings of inferiority, conformity, independence and for sure, questions about love. How can we be pure in a impure world?

One word: FRIENDS! Andy Stanley said, "Show me your friends and I will tell you your future." What kind of friends do my son or daughter have? Do they support the pure values of God's Word? This not only refers to real friends, but made up friends also. TV, video and movie friends. Do you find it alarming that we will invite some people into our living rooms through a TV program that we would never allow through our front door? What kind of friends have I exposed my self and my family to?

Now that the TV is off, how can I help my student develop healthy friendships? Or, how can I help my child loosen the grip of wrong friends?

More in part 2.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Milestone 3- Preparing for Adolescence


Three things help guide this stage in our student's life:


  • Scripture

  • Peer Groups

  • Time

During this time, nothing lasts like scripture. The Bible is our best ally when it comes to preparation. There is more hope for understanding God's Word than there is understanding hormone changes, growth spurts, and increased appetites. A student's desire to belong gels during this time and the budget takes a huge hit if students wake up and decide they want to try and keep up with the latest fashion. During this time, be sure your student knows the value of God's Word, especially memorizing and owning it. If they know what God wants them to do, they'll think twice before doing what the wrong crowd is doing.


Peer groups are very influential. Try this: Change their peer group. Parents would do better if students looked up to their parents rather that friends who stand and fall at the least wind. This comes when parents spend time with their students. Please, don't give me the come back "I spend quality time (vs. Quantity time) with them." Any time spent with students is quality time. Be different and spend lots of time with them. The wrong peer group will do this if you don't want to do it. If you don't know what your students are doing, you're not spending time with them. Learn their likes, hangouts, tastes, and favorite music, books and videos. Be courageous if some of their desires need stern course corrections.


The last thing concerns time. Take time to help them see their value and worth. Take time to show them what is really important in life. Be sure, though, that our actions as parents back up our words. This is the greatest thing we can offer at this stage of life: consistency. Allow them time to be independent. This is a time of "firsts" for our students. First love (or crush). First time on their own (trip to mall with friends). First test of values, morals and trusts.


Help students interpret some of these changes even before they face them. Without judging people, take them to places to watch people and discuss actions, values and consequences. Perhaps select a place farther away from home so that the student can learn with a crowd they might not have contact with again. Help them to uncover the deceit in advertising, store front images and movies they might watch. There is no better use of time than these adolescent years.


Try the resource below for extend talks with your students on these issues:
╩║Preparing for Adolescence╩║ (Dr. James Dobson) • 738304 • 8 CD Album (includes 6 CDs for teen/pre‐teens, and 2 leadership CDs for parents)
Dr. Dobson brings the conversational warmth straight to you and your adolescent. Among the many topics

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Milestone 2 (continued)

Baptism is a beautiful picture of the inward commitment a person makes to follow Christ as Savior, but it is more. So often children will come and say, "I want to be baptized." What an opportunity that follows as parents can take them through the things they need to know and the actions they need to take. Sometimes they see someone baptized and want to do likewise, but they don't understand why a person is baptized.

I tell people to invite all their friends, family, unbelievers they know so everyone can see the commitment which has already been made to receive Jesus as Savior. Baptism is a celebration for everyone. It is the best opportunity a new believer has to tell a lot of people about their new life in Christ (Rom. 6:5) The word baptize means "to dip". People who were baptized in the New Testament "came up out of the water" following their "dipping."

Acts 8:37-39 (New American Standard Bible)
37And Philip said, "If you believe with all your heart, you may." And he answered and said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God."]
38And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him.
39When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing.

According to the New Testament practice, baptism was by immersion or dipping and followed salvation.
Comments on Infant baptism: This isn't seen in the New Testament and was first mentioned in history 200 years after Christ Some practice this as as way of securing the infant's salvation until the child can be confirmed later as they have maturity in their understanding. Others practice infant baptism saying that a child is likely to become a believer as the parents demonstrate a Christ-likeness in the home. In either situation, a child has to make this decision concerning salvation for themselves
Baptism is to be a decision of the new believer after they receive Christ as Savior and not prior to salvation and certainly not a decision someone else makes for the child.
I remember the day I accepted God's gift of salvation on April 17, 1967 and was baptised the following Sunday. I celebrate that day every year. Make salvation and baptism a time of celebration.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Milestone 2

Milestone 2 Deals with Salvation and Baptism. Studies show that most people who receive Jesus as Savior do this between the ages of 6 & 12. The older a person gets the less likely they are to become a Christian. Perhaps your own experience reflects these findings. These are certainly God Moment years for our children, As Christian parents, we look forward to the days when our child becomes a Christian.

There are 3 things to concentrate on during this Milestone:
  1. We need to teach them what they need to know
  2. We need to be diligent (consistent & intentional) in teaching them what to do
  3. We need to follow the direction of the Holy Spirit

John 3:16 covers the first two:

  • God Loved
  • God Gave
  • We believe
  • We receive

As you get closer to this milestone, you will discover more about these two in the Parent Summit that will be planned later in the year.

What about the Holy Spirit in the part of salvation? God is always moving. As parents, our challenge is to pray (our greatest ally in Milestones) and watch (sometimes the hardest thing to do.)

Our prayers are to be centered on God's activity in our child's life. Is my child asking questions about spiritual things? Do I see them mimicking my activities (reading the Bible, praying, singing, etc.)? Do I see pieces of their spiritual journey coming together? This may be the activity of God's Spirit. Take every occasion to talk to your children when you see them showing interest or asking questions about things they see in church and worship.

Remember this: A child can believe what a child can believe. Their level of processing information is at a child's level of thinking. Don't expect them to think mature, adult thoughts about God. Frankly, their child-like thoughts are probably closer to God's ideals that our point of view.

Two cautions: Even though we may not see changes in our child's attitude toward spiritual things, they may still be picking up some ideas about God. Also, don't be tempted to force a decision on your child they are not ready to make. They may be able to give lots of examples of sin in general, but if they can't see their personal sin, the time may not be right. Let God continue to work.

More about celebration of Milestone 2 and baptism next time.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Milestone 1

Do you want your new born to learn how to clap? Start a celebration with clapping and praises like "Yeah for Sam" or "Yeah for Taylor," or whatever the name of your child. Soon they will join the celebration and add to the applause. This is Milestone 1, a Parent and Baby Celebration. It's a time for the parents to celebrate their responsibility as the primary Faith Trainers of their children. Periodically in the year, Anderson Mill will have a dedication service where parents affirm their roles in training and the church affirms its part in praying for the family. Milestone 1 is part of our worship on those special days.

Prior to the celebration comes one of the first equipping sessions with Pastor Rod as he guides the parents down the path to maturity. Yes, this is mandatory because the Bible is very serious about training this new generation according to Deut. 6:4-7. The vision begins to clarify and parents are challenged to provide spiritually for their child. New parents feel a sense of urgency when the first child comes. They want the very best they can supply.

The walk down the Legacy path takes on meaning. In this first Milestone, parents learn about Faith Talks, God Moments and Celebrating Milestones. As God's special gifts to parents, children need parents, not friends or caretakers, to be the "hands on" people in their life. This is why children are dedicated to the Lord and By His Word during this special day.

You're on the way!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Family Ministry

Last Sunday, Pastor Rod spoke about Legacy Milestones, a strategy for raising up disciples in your home. Children today often see religion from a once a week, "in the box experience" point of view. Milestones spreads a vision for the parents to be the primary faith trainers, the home being the primary place of training and the church being the equipper of the parents. All of this comes from Deut. 6:4-7. Even one-parent families are successful in making disciples at home as they partner with the church, mentors and support groups.

Every step is important and provides order to the Great Commission in Matt: 28:18-20. No longer can families out source their responsibilities to others or even to the church when it comes to raising up the next godly generation. Parents shouldn't allow their irresponsibility to become another's responsibility. Examine the milestones in the next few blogs. Purpose to commit your ways to the Lord.

Special thanks to Brian Haynes and Kingsland Baptist Church.
A Hot Air Balloon over Anderson Mill

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Happy Anniversary, Billy Graham Call Center!

It was February 14, 2005, when Anderson Mill opened our first call center for receiving national phone calls through the Billy Graham Telecast. That first night, with trembling and trust, 6 phones rang for almost 2 hours and we received 29 phone calls from all over the US and Canada. Over the next three nights, 3 dozen volunteers would be trained to pray, receive phone calls and help people make their next step toward God. Nine people received Christ as Savior the first night. What an exciting adventure!

Since then, our call center has answered 1,765 calls and helped share the gospel so that 657 people could pray to ask Christ to be their Savior. Our center helped train and start two other centers in Austin at sister churches during the past 5 years. Volunteers from area churches are partnered with Anderson Mill each time the call center opens.

Thank you, Anderson Mill, for making it possible to so many to be a part of this nation-wide network of call centers each month. Pray about joining this exciting ministry in 2010 and you too can answer the phones with us, “Hello. This is the Billy Graham Telephone Center. My name is Al. Did you call to receive Christ as your personal Savior?”

Contact Al Magness:
amagness@ambcaustin.org 512-258-5843 X 104 or go to http://www.ambcaustin.org/ for more information.



Friday, February 12, 2010

"Leaders who refuse to listen, will soon find themselves surrounded by those who have nothing important to say."

" He who has ears, let him hear." Did the people around Jesus listen to what was being said? They heard what they wanted to hear. They didn't hear "between the lines." How can I be a great listener?
First, make sure the conversation isn't having to compete with things which are distracting. Turn the cell phone off. Close the door. Turn off the TV or radio. Set aside my agenda. Good listeners hear what's being said. Great listeners show the other person we are getting what is being said by giving them our undivided attention. Body language speaks louder that words.
Second, repeat (in summary) what was said. Allow the other person to hear what you believe they said and ask for confirmation. Acknowledge any corrections that were made.
Third, ask if there is anything else that needs to be said. Often the first thing that is said, may not be the most important thing. Or the talker may have forgotten something they intended to say. Be very slow to close out an appointment until everything has been said.
Finally, thank the other person for their investment of time. Then act on what was shared. That doesn't always mean we have to fix something. Listening is part of the process of communication. Sometimes listening is the most important part of decision making, problem solving or relationship building.

Purpose to be a great listener, then act like one. Good listeners attract good leaders.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Lord, You got me into this!


How do we remained focused in uncertain times? These past few months many of us have experienced uncertain times. Lost jobs, lost health, lost relationships and a shaky outlook for tomorrow. Lord, You got me into this. Sometimes we get into a situation that seems to have no way out. Can't move forward, to the right or to the left. We're stuck! "I thought I had a plan."

When the plan doesn't seem to be working, don't be afraid to admit, "It was a bad plan." I wish I had abandoned some plans earlier than I did, but sometimes we will think it more honorable to die on the hill of our plan.

The problem with plans is that they are subject to change. Just ask all those travelers who had their plans interrupted by record snow falls in the east. Realize that vision needs to be stable. Plans need to be flexible. Failure in a plan doesn't mean it was a bad vision. Our vision may be to work toward a lifestyle that will honor God, provide for my family and fund my ministry. Plans may help us through specific time, but sometimes they rarely endure to the end. Vision endures.

Don't let "changed plans" derail us as we move toward the vision.
Hebrews 12:2 (NASB)

fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

We are to fix our eyes. Establish the vision God has for you. Make plans, but allow God to change them as needed.

"Lord, you got me into this. I'm trusting You to see me through this."

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

When You Feel Overwhelmed


Jesus was on the Mount of Olives overlooking the Temple Area in Jerusalem. He was talking to his "Core +1" Group, Peter , James John and Andrew. He was helping His disciples work through and be prepared for an overwhelming feeling they would soon have, if they didn't have it already. Perhaps we have had similar feelings of walking up to an airplane wreck with a box of band aids and a tube of triple antibiotic ointment.

For months, Jesus had tried to prepare these guys for what was to come, and now it was time. Jesus told the disciples in Mark 13:9 "be on guard." Imagine getting a Hallmark Greeting Card with something like this, "Enjoy the day because tomorrow you will be ..." and you open the inside of the card and read, "... handed over to angry men, flogged, arrested, betrayed, hated, and Oh, Have a great day!" Talk about being overwhelmed. They were! Try fixing that situation with a band aid.

What Jesus said next was the right prescription: "don’t worry beforehand what you will say. On the contrary, whatever is given to you in that hour—say it. For it isn’t you speaking, but the Holy Spirit."

All these things would happen to these guys in a few short days. And sure enough, the Holy Spirit was right on time. Here's the point: We can not afford to worry about the past or the future. We are only given grace for today. Perhaps it is good that we don't know how tomorrow will unfold for us.

Use this day as a day of serving others. TIP: Serve others who are overwhelmed and you'll make a lifelong friend.
The picture above is Cheyenne Mountain, the home of NORAD.
It is always good to be prepared and NORAD helps the United States
stay prepared for any emergency from outside governments.

Friday, February 5, 2010

"Not Bad" Isn't Good Enough

"Not bad." I hear this sometimes when someone thinks they have completed a "pretty good" attempt at a task or project. Or it may sound like this, "Well, I'm not a bad person." Thank God that the gospel doesn't give us an opportunity to be graded on a curve, or it wouldn't be "good news" for eternity.


"9 out of 10 isn't bad." When we share the good news with other people, the gospel offers hope not odds. It is 100% sure that with Jesus as Savior, a person will go to heaven. Period. That's the best news we can share with people. 100% of the time. 100% of the people who accept Jesus as Savior go to heaven. How would you like to live a life that has based it's future hope on , "Well, I hope I go to heaven"?


We can know with certainty, today, right NOW!


1 John 5:13 These things I have written to you
who believe in the name of the Son of God,
so that you may know that you have eternal life.
















The Railyard at Santa Fe, New Mexico

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Priority, Preference or Passion


Think. What would you consider a priority for your day, today- right now? Work, school, chores, health, or something else we say is important to us? When our priorities are challenged, what do we do? We put a "price" on the priority and hope that some other person, event, or urgency doesn't exceed the price of our priority. In other words, can our priorities be "bought off" even though we might have said that we'd never allow the priority to fall from our top shelf.

Jesus' priorities were under constant scrutiny. The government, others and especially His own disciples tried to deter Him from the goal- Savior of the World. (John 3:16) We are blessed to day because nothing stopped Jesus from His destination.

So often, what we consider a priority as only a preference. Priorities stick; preferences slide! Preferences aren't inherently bad. There just not priorities. How would my life be different if I had priorities that stuck? Priorities like serving others before I served myself or starting my day thinking about God rather than my to-do-list.

When Jesus answered the demands of government, others and friends, the scripture records, "no one dared question Him any longer." (Mark 12:34b)

Reset your priorities today and you'll re-discover your passion.


(PHOTO: I wish my life was as ordered as these veggies at a farmer's market in San Antonio. I guess I'd better stop wishing and be something.)

Friday, January 29, 2010

How to Be Succeessful

Our ABF lesson this week is about success. How we define success often determines the path we take in business, relationships, finances and spiritual things. Jesus, for me, defines success in Mark 10:45 (which happens to be my life verse). Jesus' disciples were growing indiffernet, if not upset at Jesus' constant talk about His coming death. Jesus is headed for Jerusalem in Mark 10 and He begins to tell His disciples how to be successful. It wasn't by giving, being better parents, staying late at work, having a good educaton, or taking time off for important times, as important as these may be. He simply told then TO SERVE. How could they have missed the greatest point in being a success.

Jan & I were coming home last week after grocery shopping and it was getting dark. We noticed a man at the end of our sidewalk. I parked in the garage and went to the rear of the car and began asking what he needed. He was "selling magazine subscriptions" in an effort to turn his life around. After a few moments of listening, I dismissed him and started into the garage. The man (who said his name was "Julius Caesar") asked one final question: "Do you believe in second chances?" Well, I did just then as I asked my Heavenly Father what I was to say next. Mr. Caesar asked if I could give him some advice on how to be successful.

Mark 10:45 came to mind as I told him to "learn to serve other people." He wanted to know where I had learned this and I told how it was from the Bible. I had a second chance to tell him more about Jesus. Often we can serve people the best by telling them about Jesus. One person said that there are more people waiting to hear about Jesus than there are people willing to tell others about Jesus.

Take a moment and discover "How to Be Successful" and read Mark 10:45. Someone will be glad you did.
















I'm told that the government taxes property in Colorado
based on the vista it has. (Ridgeway, CO)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Prayer For an Hour



Don Miller shares this hourglass way or spending 5 minutes praying for each of these areas:
1. Praise Him- Hebrews 13:15
2. The Word- Psalm 119:105
3. Meditate- Joshua 1:8, Psalm 1
4.Confession- 1 John 1:9
5.Intercession- 1 Samuel 12:23
6.Listen- Psalm 46:10
7. Pray the Scripture- Psalm 22:1
8. Petition- James 4:2
9. Pray for Your Pastor-1 Thessalonians 5:12,13
10.Prayer for Our Church- Ephesians 5:26
11.Leaders in the World- 1 Timothy 2:1-8
12.Thank God- Psalm 136
Used by Permission

A Day of Prayer for Our Southern Baptist Convention

Our convention president, Johnny Hunt, has asked members of Southern Baptist Church to spend, Sunday, January 31, 2010 as a "Day of Prayer." Quite often, the Bible tells of extended times of prayer by God's people and the subsequent activity of God that accompanied prayer. The greatest work of God through prayer is the changed heart. Join other Christians on January 31, 2010 in an extended time of prayer.

NOTE: Lorne Sanny of the Navigaotors, wrote a fine article on this subject, How to Spend A Day in Prayer.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Join H.O.S.T. Team

What a blessing I have received these past few months as a member of H.O.S.T. Team Ministry. Each Sunday I get to stand out in an AMBC parking lot and greet people, learn names of guests and get a sneak peak at all the cool stuff kids bring to church. Sunday I saw a Spiderman key chain a young friend had. There are other places throughout he church where others serve. Bottom line is that this is a ministry that makes a difference each Sunday. Our membership gets to see we care if they are there. Guests get to feel comfortable from the moment they step on the property.

If you were inviting new people into you home for a meal, you would do everything possible making someone feel "at home." That's the H.O.S.T Team Ministry. Consider joining this team. Contact Aaron Franklin if you are ready to serve. afranklin@ambcaustin.org On Sunday, January 24, 2010, you can hear more about this ministry at a special FREE meal following the second worship service. Just ask any H.O.S.T. Team member for more information or directions to this meal.

Thanks Aaron for putting this together.