Think of this as letting you peek over our shoulder at our calendar. For me personally, it may be the busiest two weeks in a while.
Monday night, April 30, 7 pm, Dr. Charles Wade of the Baptist General Convention of Texas is the guest preacher at our annual Spring meeting of the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans. We’ll meet at the FBC of Luling, which is in St. Charles Parish on the West Bank. Dr. Bill Taylor will also speak on the exciting “Unlimited Partnerships” project. You’re invited.
Tuesday, May 1, I’m driving toward Nashville and spending the night with my parents at Nauvoo, Alabama. Wednesday afternoon, will be setting up for the three day biennial meeting of the National Association of Southern Baptist Secretaries meeting at the Lifeway Christian Resources building in Nashville. I’ve mentioned before that this gathering of perhaps 700 church office staffers is the best audience any speaker will ever find, the sharpest and sweetest bunch of ladies on the planet.
Among the massive slate of conferences the secretaries (call them administrative and ministry assistants) will be attending are six I’ll be doing. How about this for relevant conference subjects:
“Keeping the Joy in Ministry.” “Dealing with Crisis Situations.” “How to Love the People Who Irritate You the Worst.” “How do I Minister When I Need to be Ministered to?” (Four subjects, six conferences, with two being repeats.)
Quick word on each topic.
“Keeping the Joy in Ministry.” Ever see someone do great work with a lousy attitude? It undermines everything they do. Margaret Perkins told me of the time her son Sidney surprised his sisters one morning by preparing their school lunches. Margaret was stunned at this act of selfless service by Jean and Lynn’s little brother. While she watched, Sid wrapped the sandwiches, placed them in lunch bags, turned down the tops of the bags, then picked them up and flung them to the floor at the feet of his sisters. “There!” he said. Margaret said, “Sidney! Honey. You came so close to getting it right! But your attitude spoiled it all.” So, how does a Christian worker keep the joy? By staying close to the Father and taking his/her eyes off other people.
“Dealing with Crisis Situations.” Ask the Christian workers in Blacksburg, Virginia, about crisis situations. They arrive suddenly with no warning, and are frequently accompanied by the media and a thousand curiosity-seekers. They may produce inexpressible grief and at the same time untold opportunities. Since “extraordinary days often begin in ordinary ways” (a line from Pastor Jeff Box), the only way to be prepared for a crisis is to stay prepared for whatever the day holds.
“How to Love the People Who Irritate You the Worst.” This is the fun conference. We all have these people around us, don’t we. Like my neighbor who thinks it’s fun to deposit his beer cans in my garbage receptacle and who used to curse me out in the front yard because my tree was shedding on his driveway. Or the neighbor on the other side who is a sweet lady but whose family members descend on her home after we’ve gone to bed, honking their horns and talking loudly. The clue to loving irritating people is found in Luke 6:27 and following. Jesus commands us to love our enemies, then gives four specific actions this requires: do good to them, bless them, pray for them, and give to them. He does not tell us to like them or to hug them or to spend a lot of time with them. Do good, bless, pray, and give–the four most basic acts of love you’ll ever do.
“How do I Minister When I Need to be Ministered to?” The simple fact is that all of us live in that situation. We are needy people sent forth to give and serve and heal. But we have great role models. While He was hanging on the cross–hurting, bleeding, dying–Jesus forgave His executioners, saved a penitent thief, and gave His mother into the care of John. Or take the Apostle Paul. Look at the horrible list of tribulations he endured, found in II Corinthians chapter 11. Yet, all the while he was spreading the gospel. Bottom line for the believer: we always are “playing hurt.” Later, we will look back and see that our “bleeding ministry” not only helped others, but was used to heal our own hurts.
I’ll carry my sketch pad at all times, and expect to draw a couple hundred of the attendees. I will also–for the first time–bring along a box of 50 of our new CD-ROM containing 200 of my cartoons, to sell. (In the old days, we sold cartoons books. These days, it’s plastic disks.) What we hope, of course, is that these church and associational office staffers will purchase them to run the cartoons in their newsletters. We did some investigation and found that our CD-ROMs are cheaper than others, so hope that works out well for everyone.
Then on Saturday, following the Nashville meeting, I’m driving into Kentucky for a brief revival involving the First Baptist Church of Providence and Corinth Baptist Church in the Madisonville KY area. This is the brainchild of longtime internet friend Dr. Donald Cole (and father of a former member of FBC Kenner). Sunday morning at Corinth, Sunday night at FBC Providence, Mon-Tue-Wed at FBC Providence, and hopefully some daytime meetings–perhaps drawing for high school art classes, speaking at civic clubs, that sort of thing.
Then, back home.
And when I get back…
Friday, May 11, Global Maritime Ministries is doing a block party/port luncheon for port workers under the Crescent City Connection (the downtown bridge across the river). I’m trying to get back in time to draw people for them.
Saturday, May 12, “Spa Day” at the Baptist Center. This unusual event for “women in ministry” and “ministry wives” from our N.O. Baptist churches is being done by our women’s leadership team of Terry Dickson, Kathy Frates, and Becky Hughes. They’re bringing ministers’ wives (and other women) in for a 6 hour retreat. The idea being to minister to these women who have given so much over the past 20 months.
Sunday, May 13, “Mothers Day,” I’m preaching at FBC of Kenner. The fun thing is that in the past few weeks, a number of our young pastors have said to me, “Joe, give me a good text for a Mother’s Day sermon. This does not come easily for me.” I’ve suggested several, then encouraged them to share ideas and illustrations with one another because: “Since you will be preaching at the same time, you do not have to worry about someone hearing each other’s sermons and comparing notes!” (We preachers worry about the dumbest things.)
So, now, I will be taking my own advice.
Anyone got any good “Mother” stories that haven’t been worked to death? Leave here on the website, and you might be amazed at how many sermons you strengthen on May 13.
We’ll appreciate your prayers, and if you’re in Kentucky and close enough, we’d love to see you.