Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Every year around this time, the Prater house becomes a little obsessed with Vacation Bible School - in my defense, it is kind of part of my job. (And I guess there are worse things to be obsessed with). It so interesting to me the different perspectives people have about VBS - tired teachers, thankful parents, frustrated tech guys, and people who know that the results of VBS are worth all of the work that goes into it!
Why am I telling you guys this? Because I believe that VBS makes a difference. And I know it’s hard work for VBS directors (and their wives), teachers, and volunteers, but I know that the results make it worth all of the work that you do. So be encouraged, and when you get frustrated, or overwhelmed, or you just can’t get the Boaster song out of your head, remember the opportunity you have to change kids lives forever.
We had a tremendous opportunity to share God's Word with these precious souls. We averaged 86 kids (only counting kids) each day. On Friday evening we had over 200 attend our House Open Program. So many of these were guests and visitors who have never been to our church before.
Following the week of VBS, the Prater family took some much needed rest and “getting away from it all.” The first part of last week was spent in Shawnee around the house – cleaning house, just playing with the kids. We did accomplish some much needed “summer” cleaning and cleanup/organizing of our garage. I also was able to do so over neglected yard work one day as well. Then, on Wednesday, we traveled to Tulsa to “drop the kids off” with grandma and grandpa and Maggie and on Thursday morning drove to Dallas where we spent some seriously needed alone and quiet time together. It was so nice to be alone and not having children tugging on you and crying, etc. and as well to just do whatever we wanted to do - no real plans, schedules, etc. On Friday evening, I surprised Maggie by having us picked up at the Hotel by a chauffeur service in a very nice black Lincoln Executive car where the driver took us on fabulous tour of the mansion and beautiful homes in the Dallas Preston area. We then drove out to the beautiful Lake Hubbard where there were a number of shops, nice restaurants, and a beautiful walking trail near the lake. It was truly a special night to be alone and spend some time telling the woman I married just how special and how much she means to my life.
We came back to Tulsa late Saturday evening and attended worship on Sunday morning with Maggie’s family at Carbondale and Sunday evening with my mom and grandparents at Okmulgee before heading back to Shawnee late Sunday evening.
We enjoyed a great week of time off and rest. It's during this time of the middle of the year right after most of the busy summer season that am also in need of some time to evaluate life, ministry, family, and the future. I critically needed to spend some time with God and His Word instead of making sure I am blogging.
Now, it’s time to get back to work.
Below are some pictures of VBS that just highlight the amazing week we had. I hope to be able to post more pictures later and I'm stilling working on posting now still both the Camp and VBS picture slideshow. Be patient. I'll eventually get it posted.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Elijah accuses Israel of wavering between two opinions. Israel was trying to have it two ways at once. Israel was trying to serve God and Baal at the same time. Israel was trying to having an altar to God right beside an altar to Baal. Israel's policy here was one of tolerance: she was trying to tolerate two religions at the same time.
Elijah challenges Israel to make up her mind. Elijah challenges Israel to stop limping back and forth. Israel is told to stop her waffling and wavering and wiggling between two positions. Israel is challenged to make a choice. Israel is like a traveler on a journey. She has reached a fork in the road. She must now decide which way to go: whether to the left or the right.
I cannot help but notice that many people today are like Israel at Mount Carmel. The cry of postmodern thinking is that we must "tolerate" everything. Every "alternative lifestyle," worldview, or personal belief must be viewed as equally valid, we are told. The cardinal sin of our age is daring to offend someone else.
The result of this type of thinking is that no one seems to be courageous enough to take a stand for anything. We attempt to placate everyone and speak out of both sides of our mouth. No one seems to be confident in their beliefs or bold enough to take a firm position.
The devil loves this. Toleration is a ploy used by him to suck in the people of God. After all, who wants to be accused of intolerance? In today's world and culture, intolerance is the biggest and worst sin. But as Paul tells us, what connection is there between righteousness and wickedness, light and darkness, Christ and Belial? (2 Cor 6:14ff)
Although postmodern Americans tend to "hesitate between two opinions" there is some indication that people are now hungering for people who are bold enough to be "straight shooters." Whether or not you agree with these people, the popularity of Dr. Phil, Bill O'Reilly, and even Rosie O'Donnell demonstrates that we long for people to stop dancing around issues and "tell it how it is."
Christians should not be crass and tactless. We must always let our "speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person" (Colossians 4:6). This is a principle that many outspoken television hosts forget. However, while we are careful to speak with compassion we must also be bold and confident in our convictions.
So yes Elijah confronts us today with the same challenge he confronted Israel with: "How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him." What do you think? How are we being tempted and even willing more and more today to believe and practice toleration at the expense of truth?
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Another video Spoof video on the Mac vs. PC ads from the Southern Hills Church of Christ.
All joking aside, I do see the end to the statis quo church goer mentality and now living in a post-Christian culture who doesn't go to or want to at all. Dan Kimball in his book "They Liked Jesus but not the Church" shines light on this important issue. Many people are okay with Jesus and all but going to church is viewed by them as a waste of time. Church is not connecting to a generation who Desperately needs Christ' church. I think it is going to take the influence of the "Christian" in this video for that to happen. Truly a living, breathing witness and testimony to the gospel of Jesus Christ and His Kingdom.
May God help us to live out the words of the apostle Paul, "Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity." (Colossians 4:5)