Benefits Reaped by Loving Our Community

I have the privilege and responsibility of being a covenant member in a three year old church whose mission is “to love God, love people and love community.”  From the beginning, it has been our goal to show our love for God by serving our community and those in it.   Matthew 22:34-40 says “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”   Jesus was saying, don’t stop at just loving me, love those around you too.


One of the many ways that we’ve loved and served our community has been to spend afternoons tutoring children in the local elementary school.  The elementary school we chose to serve was struggling because very few parents were involved, many of the students were new to the US and learning English as a Second language, a majority of its students were on free or reduced lunches and academically, they were only in the 14 percentile state-wide.

Our willingness to serve and love the kids opened doors of trust with the faculty who were curious as to why we cared so much.  Our tutoring helped those students who were falling behind to catch up while discovering that someone genuinely cared about them.  It provided opportunities for sharing Christ and inviting families to join our community of faith.  It encouraged the teachers and faculty who had become so discouraged in their work.

Showing God’s love to the school as we did reaped huge benefits for them … and us.  They were recently recognized as the greatest success story in the district.  Their growth surpassed 90% of the elementary schools in the state, earning them a special distinction as “High Progressing” school, after finishing in the 71st percentile, up from the previous 14th.  WOW, what a difference our involvement and service had made. Principal Burkhardt contributes the amazing turn-around to a team effort and has thanked the church’s many volunteers for loving the students and showing them the love of God.

Our service through the school allowed me to see first-hand how serving our community opened doors that would have otherwise remained closed.  I saw the smile of a child who finally understood how to complete his homework assignment. I discovered what it means to love your neighbor and most importantly, I witnessed people coming to faith in Christ because we loved God, people, AND our community.

Lessons Learned from the Vols

TN VOLSOn January 1, 1968, I listened to my first University of Tennessee Vols football broadcast.  I will never forget the excitement of the Orange Bowl.  The Vols rallied from a 19 to 0 deficit in the second half, behind the incredible play of  quarterback, Dewey “Swamp Rat” Warren.  This great comeback left Tennessee with the opportunity for a game winning field goal with seconds left.  The Vols ultimately missed the field goal and lost a heart-breaker, but I was hooked as a Vols football  fan.  Growing up in East Tennessee, I have great memories of “Rocky Top”  and radio broadcaster John Ward’s memorable voice shouting “Touchdown Tennessee.”

Being a Vols fan has also taught me some great spiritual lessons.  Here are seven faith lessons I have learned as a football fan.

  1. There is a contagious excitement when a crowd is joined by a common passion.  I have felt the stadium almost shake from the crowds at Neyland Stadium and the overflow of the fans’ excitement.
  2. People will step out of their comfort zone for something they love.  Grown men will cheer, yell, paint themselves orange, and wave Pom Poms.  No one seems to mind what others think when they back their favorite team.
  3. Time is not an issue when you really buy into a cause.  Busy people arrive early in the morning to tailgate all day for an evening game, and no one is upset if it goes into overtime.
  4. Folks gladly invest money to that which has captured their heart.  Season ticket holders lay out thousands of dollars to have the privilege of attending games, and university boosters donate millions of dollars to college athletic programs.
  5. People boldly wear the colors of that which they truly follow.  Some of us are even brave enough to wear orange in the midst of the big blue state of Kentucky.
  6. We have no problem sharing with anyone who will listen about the team we follow.  Strangely, no one seems to worry that it might offend someone who follows another.
  7. Our hearts break when the results are not what we had hoped.  Some even mourn so much that it is hard to work on Monday.

As I reflect on all this, it causes me to ask, “Am I as passionate about Jesus as my favorite football team?”  Do others sense a contagious excitement as I share about the place where I worship?  Am I willing to step out of my comfort zone for sake of the Gospel?  Has Jesus captured my time and wallet?  Do I boldly reflect Christ?  Does my heart break at the continued lostness of this world?

Football…just a game really.  Jesus…we are talking about life and eternity.  It really does matter who we follow.


Welcome Back!!

Vacation Pic

Vacation Pic

Today is my first day back in the office following a much needed vacation. After a week of relaxing in the warm sunshine and enjoying the beautiful sites of God’s creation, I kinda dreaded coming back to the many emails, voice messages, and the catch-up work that would need to be done. I did not even think about the phone calls that would start coming in at 8:00 AM.

I found today, however, to be full of nice surprises. One missionary called to share about a new ministry position she had just received, another called to say she had spoken at a Baptist Women’s World Day of Prayer event, led a Bible study at a women’s retreat, attended an open house for a new ministry, and had met a new prospective missionary.

As I opened emails I learned of 2 new missionaries that had been approved by the North American Mission Board while I was gone, project posts that had been updated on the website, a second prospective missionary, displays at a mission fair, annual associational meetings, encouraging phone calls, visits, and emails to missionaries, new projects to be posted, and much, much more.

Ken Richardson, pastor at Oakland Avenue Baptist Church in Covington, called to report that a team from Main Street Baptist in Alexandria had come and put a new roof on their building. He also shared that earlier this summer a team from Somerset First Baptist had come to lead an outreach event and 19 decisions for Christ were made, with 14 of those being baptized. This team will be coming back sometime in November for another event.

In my last phone call of the work day I learned from another missionary of a new quilting ministry being started as an outreach to ladies in their community.

What a great way to return from vacation. Such exciting stories. Oh, all was not quite so positive. I did have one lady share about a team that had promised to come lay tile in their church fellowship hall but did show or bother to call. But, other than that, this has been a very good “welcome back from vacation” day.

During this month of Thanksgiving I thank God for calling and allowing me to serve with the KBC in mobilization.