Man’s healing leads to start of alternative funeral home

Nice mention in the Baton Rouge Advocate this week:

“When the Lord says to love your enemies, he’s not commanding you to feel anything,” McKeever said. “He’s not asking you to feel all gooey and affectionate toward them. He’s commanding you to do loving actions toward them.”

via Man’s healing leads to start of alternative funeral home | People | The Advocate — Baton Rouge, LA.

Broken Pastor, Broken Church

(This is our account of a difficult three years in our lives–‘ours’ referring to my wife and me–when we pastored a divided church in North Carolina. The article ran in the Winter 2001 issue of “Leadership,” a publication of Christianity Today.  At the conclusion, we have a few postscripts which may be of interest to some.)

How could I lead a congregation that was as hurt as I was?

My calendar for the summer and beyond was blank. I usually planned my preaching schedule for a full year, but beyond the second Sunday in June–nothing. I had no ideas. I sensed no leading from the Spirit. But it was only January, so I decided to try again in a couple of months. Again, nothing. By then, I suspected the Lord was up to something.

A member of my church had told me the year before, “Don’t die in this town.” I knew what she meant. She didn’t envision Columbus as the peak of my ministry. Columbus was a county-seat town with three universities nearby, and, for Mississippi, cosmopolitan. I felt Columbus, First Baptist, and I were a good match. The church grew. We were comfortable together. My family was settled. Our sons and daughter had completed most of their schooling, and after twelve years, they called Columbus home. My wife, Margaret, and I had weathered a few squalls, but life was good–a little quiet, perhaps even stagnant, but good.

And suddenly I could hear the clock ticking. Did God have something more for me?

First Baptist Church of Charlotte, North Carolina, called in March. I ended my ministry at Columbus the second Sunday of June and began in Charlotte one month later.

After I’d been in Charlotte about a month, the man who chaired their search committee phoned. “I have some people I want you to talk with,” he told me. He picked me up and drove me to the impressive home of one of our members. In the living room were a dozen men, all leaders in the church and in the city. Another man appeared in charge.

“We want to offer you some guidance in pastoring the church,” he said. “There are several issues we feel are important, and we want you to know where we stand.” He outlined their position on the battle between conservatives and moderates for control of our denomination and on the role of women in the church. He wanted women elected as deacons, one item in a full slate of changes he wanted made at the church.

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Global Maritime Ministries plan – pay off loan in a year | The Baptist Message Online

Via The Baptist Message Online.

NEW ORLEANS – It’s a bold move, but if anyone can pull it off, Joe McKeever can.

Paying off its $290,000 loan in one year at Global Maritime Ministries, Southern Baptists’ port ministry in Southeast Louisiana, is a strategic plan that will launch new avenues of ministry, leaders say.

Philip Vandercook, executive director, said freeing up the $3,000-a-month mortgage payment will provide for more personnel, the center’s greatest need. Up to three new chaplains could be hired with the redirected funds.

Negotiating The Red Zone: Taking Your Sermon To A Successful Conclusion

If I could say one thing to young preachers about making their sermons effective, this would be it.

A sermon which lays its points before the people without ever tying them up again at the end fails its audience in a lot of ways. Chiefly, it never lets the congregation see the bigger picture, how the message fits into the larger framework of God’s plan for the world, the Kingdom, and themselves.

With Kessler’s suggestions as our guide, I want to propose three approaches for preachers in crafting more effective closings for sermons.

via Negotiating The Red Zone: Taking Your Sermon To A Successful Conclusion | Preaching.com.

So Many Reasons To Pray For The Preacher

A friend and I have been having an internet discussion about preachers. We both love our preachers, and years ago, I was her pastor, so we have a mutual understanding about a lot of things.

The conversation went like this.

She: “One of the things I’ve enjoyed in our church lately is an enhanced understanding of every phrase of the Lord’s prayer. So much so that I was offended recently at a funeral when the minister asked us to stand and ‘recite’ the Lord’s Prayer. I don’t think it’s something to be recited; it’s something to be prayed diligently!”

She added: “Now don’t go getting the wrong idea. I think that preacher is a delightful person, and I like him very much.”

I said, “Asking someone to ‘recite’ the Lord’s Prayer reminds me of something similar that drives me up the wall. You’ll be in a moving worship service, and the leader will say, ‘Now, let us have a word of prayer,’ or ‘I’m going to ask Bill to lead us in a word of prayer.’ I don’t know why that bothers me so much. I feel like calling out, ‘Hey friend, pray! Don’t just have a ‘word’ of prayer. Go to the Heavenly Father and pray!’ Somehow, it minimizes the importance of prayer, as though we’re all tipping our hats to the Almighty, then going on with the important stuff.”

We branched out to discussing how we preachers sometimes say foolish things without a clue as to how it’s being received. I told her about a recent internet conversation with a friend in North Carolina.

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Pastor, You Will Pray or Quit!

If anyone on planet Earth needs to pray faithfully and fervently, it’s the pastor. For one thing, this job requires more of you than there is and more time than you have. The person accepting the Lord’s call into the ministry is agreeing to live in a world of unfinished tasks. You are literally being sentenced to live beyond yourself.

It is by its very nature impossible to live this life and do this work in your own strength. You will develop a strong prayer life or you will not survive. It’s as simple as that.

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You Would Love To Be A Secretary Today

(This was written on national secretaries’ day in 2005, and we decided to hold it back for this year. The events mentioned are dated, but the points are timeless.)

Today is the one day every pastor in our city wants to be a church secretary. On this day each year, our association provides a luncheon for all secretaries of Baptist churches in metro New Orleans, and today’s will be held in Commander’s Palace, only one of the greatest restaurants in the world. To be exact, we pay half and the churches pay the other half of the cost of thirty dollars each, not bad for where we’re going. The room holds 85 people; we had no trouble with slackers not getting their reservations in.

Dr. Rhonda Kelley, professor, author of a number of books, and wife of the president of our beloved New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, will be the featured speaker. She is an ideal speaker but she will carry another positive when she stands up to speak today. Rhonda knows what it is to live in the shadow of big persons and to labor to make someone else successful–which of course, sounds like a church secretary’s job description. Her growing up years, she was known as the daughter of Bob Harrington, the chaplain of Bourbon Street. For almost all her adult life, she’s been known as the wife of Chuck Kelley, the president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Yet, she is really somebody, well worth knowing, an accomplished individual, a godly woman.

Great restaurant, excellent speaker, good food, impressive atmosphere. However, you might be surprised to know the star of these luncheons is the fellowship.

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A Taxing Time Of The Year

Thursday, I was having lunch with IMB Missionary Tom Hearon at “New Orleans Hamburger and Seafood” in Metairie when we noticed my friend Larry just inside the front door, waiting in a crowded line to give his lunch order. Larry is a great guy and I wanted Tom to know him, so I called to him. He’s a CPA, our church treasurer, has helped our association with financial matters, and does my personal taxes. He pulled a chair up to our table and told Tom of my leading him to the Lord, baptizing him, and performing his wedding to Peggy. Giving me credit for what the Lord did and what I got in on only at the last. After a bit, our talk turned to taxes.

I said, “Larry, I noticed the government is allowing us in this part of the world to have until August to file our taxes.” “Yes,” he said, “One of the few blessings to come out of Katrina. But I’m telling my clients to act as if April 15 is still the deadline and get their stuff in.” “I’m working on it,” I assured him. Which was the truth.

Working on it. But not enjoying it. Filling out tax forms, even the kind I complete only to hand to Larry who does the real work, even that kind is one of my least favorite activities.

For years I thought about admitting to being a procrastinator about taxes, but kept putting it off.

Now, I’m not that way about everything. Ask me to speak at your meeting and I’ll show up prepared. Call me about writing an article for your magazine or drawing a cartoon for your book and I’ll beat your deadline. Last Spring, I wrote five devotionals for our state mission offering scheduled for September. My deadline was April 1 and I e-mailed the articles on March 23. I don’t procrastinate on everything. Just one thing. One big thing. Income taxes.

I don’t just dread income tax time. I hate it. Despise, abhor, detest. Loathe, dislike, execrate, scorn. Shrink from, have an aversion to, abominate. (Thanks for the help, Mr. Roget.)

Now, to be honest, it’s not all that hard to do my taxes any more. I keep good records and have everything handy. I pay enough throughout the year that I actually get refunds. This was a long time coming, though.

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