Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Missouri Missions Offering

I am grateful for the break in the hot, humid days of summer. The fall has always been my favorite time of year with warm days and cool evening. School has started, football games have begun, and everyone seems to be settling back into their routines following a busy summer.

The fall is also the time of year when we promote our Missouri State Missions Offering. September and October are the traditional times when we think and pray about the mission opportunities and needs of Missouri. The 2010 State Missions Offering will provide funding for our Mission Partnerships as we enable local churches to become directly involved in Missouri, national, and international mission partnerships. Our Missions Mobilization Team gives direction to these mission partnerships and volunteers from churches across our state have an opportunity to get involved in hands-on mission projects. The offering will also provide resources for new church starts across the state.

One-third of the Missouri Missions Offering provides support for our benevolent institutions through The Baptist Home, the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home, and the Freeway Foundation. Your gifts help to provide care for senior adults and children who need Christian homes and care. The offering will also provide funds for the Freeway Foundation’s drug and alcohol awareness programs across Missouri. Missions is about Believing, Giving, Caring, and Ministering in the name of Christ. Our state-wide goal is $18,000. Your gifts make a difference! I hope you will lead your church to be a part of the Missouri Missions Offering. Resources for the offering are available here.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Who is shaping your life?

I am sure everyone knows the political season is in full swing. The political ads on television and radio and those annoying automated phone calls are in full operation. I am looking forward to the elections just because I want the campaign season to be over. I know from reading American history that politics has always been a tough game in our country, but sometimes I wonder what all the negative ads say about our society. I am told that the politicians use the negative ads because they work. It seems that it is easier to tear down your opponent than it is to sell your own qualifications or your own ideas for addressing our nation’s problems and challenges.

Even with all the problems and “mud” in our political system, I would not be willing to give up on our first amendment freedoms: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. None of us want to live in a country where we do not have these cherished freedoms, including the freedom of speech. Maybe the political rhetoric says as much about us as it does the politicians. If we demanded more honesty in political ads, more genuine debate on the issues, and more transparency in political campaigns, maybe we would get it. I know you have to be a serious optimist to believe it is possible.

My real concern is not political campaigns, but how we allow them to shape our society and our lives. Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome and said it is God’s plan that we would “be conformed to the likeness of his Son.” He desires to shape our lives. Each day he is seeking to reshape our lives so we might become the persons he created and planned for us to be. Like many of you, I am aware he has a lot of work left to do in my life.

There is a constant struggle going on in our lives. There is a question we must answer for each new day. Who or what will shape our lives today? Will we allow God’s Spirit the freedom he desires to work in our lives? Will we accept his plans, adopt his attitudes, and work on his priorities? It is so easy to allow someone else to shape our lives. It is so easy to be shaped by our society and it values. The call of the Christian faith is to reshape our society rather than being shaped by it.

We cannot allow our society to persuade us that dishonesty is okay when it is for a good cause or destroying or devaluing another person is acceptable behavior for a child of God. We do not have to agree with someone to treat them with respect and to acknowledge they are important to God. It is easy to get caught up in the campaign mindset, but the challenge is to remember who we are as children of God. We need to live our lives (even during the campaign season) acknowledging our Savior and allowing him to continue his work of redemption and sanctification in our lives. Remember the question is who is shaping your life?

Note: This article was written for the September 2 "Message" page in Word&Way.