Birthdays and Anniversary Upheavals

My mother asked me to thank everyone who sent birthday cards for her 90th, which we all celebrated last Friday. I think she ended up with 41 cards. She laughs at those of you who wrote that “you must be a wonderful person to have raised such a nice son.” She says, “I have four sons; which one do you think they mean?” A few weeks back after I put a note about her impending birthday in this blog and bragged on her a little, she teasingly said she was thinking of showing it to the other children and saying, “That’s what Joe says about me; what do you say?”

We do thank you very much. Wish you could have had one of the terrific fried pies she made for the occasion. Since my sister Patricia grows blueberries in the field across the road, Mom decided to vary the content of her turnovers from the traditional apples and make some with peaches and blueberries. Saturday morning, when I left to drive toward Knoxville, she sent four pies along. Before preaching Sunday morning, my breakfast was a Chilton County peach, a blueberry pie, and a cup of hotel-room coffee.

“Pastor, take a look at our parking lot.” Pastor Kwan Song of the First Korean Baptist Mission in Metairie called to tell me they are experiencing the strangest effects of Hurricane Katrina of any of our churches. The ground under their building and parking lot is sinking. Sure enough, it is. Cracks are appearing under the building and under the sidewalks and concrete parking area. The pastor is applying for some of the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund money to correct the problem.

I asked Pastor Kwan if he had lost members due to the upheaval Katrina brought to our world. “Oh yes,” he said. “We had 36 last Sunday. Before Katrina, we were running 60 and 70. The weekly offerings have dropped by 50 percent.” A new Korean family has just joined their church. “But they’re construction people,” he said, “and probably will not be with us permanently.”

Freddie Arnold told me, “Gentilly Baptist still does not have electricity.” Which means the Arkansas volunteers sleeping in their educational building are still sweating through the nights. And the members of Elysian Fields Avenue Baptist Church, which has moved over to worship in Gentilly, is continuing to hold their services on the front sidewalk due to the heat. “Tourists stop to take their picture,” he said. “It’s a good witness.”

We’re working on an anniversary prayer service for Tuesday, August 29–the one year observance of Katrina’s visitation–to be held at the First Baptist Church of New Orleans. Special speakers, special music, and a very special purpose: to give thanks for the Lord’s safekeeping and to intercede for His continued presence. We’re also planning on running full-page announcements in the Times-Picayune and the USA Today which covers this part of the country, thanks to the generosity of some friends.

Next Wednesday, July 26, will be our final pastors meeting at Oak Park Baptist Church, where we have met weekly since the first of May. On Wednesday, August 2, we will begin meeting each week with the wonderful Good Shepherd (Spanish) Baptist church in Metairie, where Gonzalo Rodriguez is pastor. The address is 5033 Wabash Street, one block off Transcontinental near where Interstate 10 crosses overhead. Gonzalo promises some of the best Mexican food anyone has ever tasted. He adds, “And we’ll have some of the other kind for the more timid among us!” You’re invited.

Long distance call today: “Give us some specific prayer requests.” As a rule, I know of nothing more to the point than praying for the well-being of the volunteer groups that come to help us, and for the blessings of God upon our pastors. If the point-man falters, the whole church stumbles.

One of my particular concerns has to do with what happens to our churches that are presently experiencing such vitality and energy while meeting in a tent on their parking lot or in their renovated fellowship hall. When they re-enter their rebuilt sanctuary, they may lose that spark and revert to some kind of formal, structured format that kills the spontaneity and informality they’re presently enjoying. When I cautioned one pastor about this, he was quick to assure me they will never go back to the way things were before.

In our Wednesday meetings, we are going to be sharing ideas on how to keep the worship services alive and challenging, powerful and pointed.

We will appreciate your prayers for this.

Some of our churches are getting new pastors. St. Rose has just called a shepherd and Memorial in Metairie is getting ready to, I understand. We still have an even dozen congregations that are looking. The choice of God’s man for a church is the most important decision a fellowship makes in years. So much about our churches depend on who the leaders are, how well they work together, whether they have hearts for God, and if the members follow them.

One more big prayer request.

2 thoughts on “Birthdays and Anniversary Upheavals

  1. Dear Joe: Whay are members of the Jewish religion consdiered to “chosen” by Southern Baptists and other Christians religions? To me, Jews have been chosen over the years for genocide

    (by the Nazis), persecution, bigotry, discrimination and religious intelorance. You have studied over the years various religions and must have an opinion on this.

    Julie has accepted a position with the West Los Angeles VA (Veterans Administrations) Hospital and will start in September. She has received her Master in Public health from UCLA, her undergraduate degree from USC, and has completed the requirements to become a Registered Dietitian. All of this took seven years to complete.

    Well hope you and your family are well.

    Best regards,

    Barry Miller

  2. as I said, I get inspired going to those Saturday men’s meetings, too. And as Tom Howell, our Chairman of Deacons said, ministry is not only for Deacons, it is for every man in the church” . I think we think sometimes we think that Deacons are the only ones who can make a difference in a church adn outisde the 4 walls of a church, which is really where the “rubber meets the road”. God has equipped us all with gifts and whether it’s a Greeter, Visitor, Painter, or Yard Man, we all can do our part, if we don’t, God might take it away.

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