Number 12–Rick Warren is determined to help New Orleans.
The first installment on the several-year commitment his Saddleback Church is making toward the churches and pastors of this city is a “New Orleans Purpose-Driven Church Conference,” scheduled for Saturday, May 2 (from 8 am to 4:30 pm) at Celebration Church, 2701 Transcontinental Drive, Metairie, LA. All pastors and every church leader (lay or staff) is invited, of all denominations. To register, go to http://www.purposedrivenchurch.com/NewOrleans or call 800-723-3532.
Speakers and teachers for that day-long event will be Bryan Crute of Destiny Metropolitan Church in Atlanta, Gerald Sharon, the North American Director of the Purpose Driven Network, Gonzalo Rodriguez, pastor of Good Shepherd Baptist Hispanic Church of Metairie, and Dennis Watson, pastor of Celebration.
Gerald Sharon emphasizes that while the name says “New Orleans,” everyone from anywhere may attend by registering in advance.
Number 11 — Jesus promised His disciples only three things:
They would be absurdly happy, entirely fearless, and always in trouble.
Number 10 — 20 reasons to give up smoking.
Health, cost, second-hand smoke’s effect (the health of loved ones), poor witness, effect on furniture, odor, bad example, funds tobacco companies’ contributions to politics, looks stupid, appears worldly, yellows teeth, wrinkles skin, fire hazard, lowers the feminine voice an octave and weakens the vocal folds, affects allergies, raises insurance costs, lowers value of the house and car (if you smoke inside), pollutes the environment, fouls up electronic appliances, and stinks up one’s breath. You’ll think of more.
Number 9 — You know it’s time for a marriage retreat when….
She sets the table and you’re the only one who gets a paper plate. The family dog is getting a better cut of meat than you. All week long, she’s been making only her side of the bed. With all your fighting, more flying objects can be seen in your house than at Roswell.
Number 8 — In the Father’s heart, you’re always the child.
(I wrote this 7 years ago; Dad went to Heaven 18 months ago.) “My 90-year-old dad has 6 children, but in his heart of hearts, his two oldest sons — born 364 days apart — will forever hold the dearest places. He recalls when they were just tots — 3 and 4 years old, then 4 and 5 — and the same size, one dark-headed and the other cotton-haired. Dad sat on the porch and watched as his little boys walked across the field to the peanut stack, picked off enough to fill their pockets, then returned to the house eating along the way. With the holes in their pockets, they strewed peanuts the entire way and arrived at the porch with nothing to show for their troubles. (To this day, Pop tells this and laughs. The memory is that fresh and that precious.)”
“No matter your age, your father sees you are you really are: a child. He knows what most people rarely admit, that deep down inside, the little child is still present. Peel away the layers of years and the experiences of a lifetime and all the hardships and memories and things learned, and what’s left is the child that is you. A father knows that, no matter your age, you need to be reminded you are loved, that you are of great value and worth, and that nothing will ever change that.”
“As a father has compassion on his child, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.” (Psalm 103:13)
Number 7 — What Edward Shillito said about our God:
“The other gods were strong, but Thou wast weak;
They rode, but Thou didst stumble to a throne;
But to our wounds only God’s wounds can speak,
And not a god has wounds but Thou alone.”
(quoted by Philip Yancey in “The Jesus I Never Knew,” p. 256.)
Number 6 — When Averell Harriman became U.S. Ambassador to France (decades ago), someone asked about his French. “Pretty good,” he answered, “Except for the verbs.”
In French as with English, the verbs are what the language is all about. In Deuteronomy 13:3, we are commanded to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” What that means in practice is all about verbs —
Follow Him, fear Him, obey Him, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him. You’ll think of additional verbs.
Number 5—In the days of the California gold rush, men left their families for years, seeking their fortunes. For most, it was a cruel and disappointing existence. One day in a town that had sprung up near a gold field, a traveling band arrived to present a concert. That evening, in the middle of the program, a woman with a small baby entered and took a seat near the back. Soon the infant began to cry. The mother was embarrassed and tried to shush the child.
Suddenly, a miner stood and called to the front, “Stop that music! Stop it now! We all want to hear that baby cry. It’s been so long since we’ve heard our own.”
A hundred grown men sat there weeping, listening to the cries of a baby.
(Charles Dickens wrote: “It is good to be children sometimes and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a Child Himself.”)
Number 4 — Fred Rogers (of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood) once related a lesson he learned as a young man. He and his wife were on vacation and went with some friends to a little church. Fred noted every mistake the elderly preacher made, and there were several. When the overly-long sermon finally ended, Fred turned to the friend to say something uncomplimentary about the message. But he stopped when he saw tears flowing down her face. She whispered, “He said exactly what I needed to hear.”
Mr. Rogers said, “That was a seminal experience for me. I was judging and she was needing. And the Holy Spirit responded to need, not judgment.”
(This friend of mine wants to live in “Mister Roget’s Neighborhood.” Why? “Because it’s a beautiful (lovely, attractive, gorgeous) day in the neighborhood (community, town, subdivision).”)
Number 3 — Generational perspectives.
Over time, parents mellow. Nine years ago, when the first-born child coughed, Dad called an ambulance. Last week, when the last child swallowed a dime, he told him it was coming out of his allowance.
When we were young, we wanted to be master of our fate and captain of our soul. Eventually, we settled for being master of our weight and captain of the bowling team.
The teacher asked: “What is the volume of a box 3 feet wide, 7 feet high, and 2 feet deep?” The student answered: “Really loud!”
Number 2 — Communication Stuff.
In 1950, when Claude Pepper was running for the U.S. Senate from Florida, one of his opponents attacked him with the following:
“Are you aware that Claude Pepper is known all over Washington as a shameless extrovert? He also practiced nepotism with his sister-in-law, and has a sister who was once a thespian in wicked New York City. Worst of all, before his marriage, he habitually practiced celibacy.”
Pepper lost the election. (Jim Denison tells this story in “The Bible: You Can Believe It,” p. 112. Pepper went on to become senator and served for a number of decades with great distinction.)
Number 1 — I noticed something about the preachers I pray for on a daily basis: 17 live and serve in Louisiana, 6 in Texas, 7 in Mississippi, 8 in Alabama, 3 in Tennessee, 3 in Georgia, 5 in North Carolina, 1 in South Carolina, 4 in Virginia, 1 in Nebraska, 1 in Minnesota, 1 in New Hampshire, 1 in California, 1 in Oklahoma, and 1 in Maine.
I like to think that each morning my prayers cover distance quicker than the space station hovering overhead. Of course, most of these servants of the Lord have no idea they are being lifted to the Father by their brother down here in the swamps.
At the top of this prayer list, I have written two Bible texts: “Far be it from me to sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you” (I Samuel 12:23) and “This poor man cried and the Lord heard his prayer” (Psalm 34:6).
I am dead sure of this, that my life has been forever blessed and strengthened along the way through the prayers of people who were daily lifting me to the Father, but of which I knew nothing.
The least I can do is pass along the blessing.