Thursday, February 9, 2012

Living in a World with Misplaced Priorities

   One of the more interesting, but least read sections of the Old Testament is the history of the Jewish people in exile in Babylon. Their exile was a result of their failure to live according to their covenant with God. After the prescribed time of exile, God provides the leadership and the resources to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the altar, the city walls and the temple.

   God came and told the people: “I’m sending you back to Jerusalem. I’m not just sending you back to Jerusalem to be safe, but I’m sending you back to Jerusalem to live a saved life; to be a different kind of person among a foreign people, to be my temple.” They got excited about that and began the journey home. Then came the distractions.

   For 16 years nothing happened. Work stopped. God’s people had forgotten their initial passion. We’re not doing much better.

   We have never been more sophisticated, more educated, more advanced as a country, yet we have never been more broke. It doesn’t help to point a finger at City Hall, Austin, Washington or wherever. The finger must be pointed at ourselves. God’s prophet, Haggai brings a message to the people of that time and us at this time saying “Consider your ways.”

   With the passage of time comes the diminishing of passion; tithing become tipping and prayers become rote quotes and church attendance becomes an obligation.

   Current criteria for a person to be considered very active and involved in a local congregation is that they attend worship services 70% of the time. Using 70% as the standard for being very active and involved produces some interesting thoughts:

   That works out to 36.4 Sundays or 36 to 37 Sundays out of 52! You can’t be considered an active member of most service clubs with that kind of attendance.

   The average year has approximately 261 work days (not excluding holidays). If someone only makes it to work 182 of those days, do you think they would be working there very long?

   Current figures show that approximately 3500-4500 churches close each year. Fortunately, new churches are being started. For a time church closings and church starts were equal, but that is beginning to decline.

   The point is this: It is a matter of the heart! It is not simply a matter of attendance, giving and behavior. Those things have their place. They should come as a result of our relationship with God. Where do the things of God and our relationship with God fit into our lives?

   I’m certain that we don’t really forget God; it’s just that we want to put Him in a storage closet and bring Him out on holidays, special occasions or when we really need Him.

   The message of God is, “I don’t stay in anyone’s storage closet.” Let’s not think that we can put God in a storage closet and acknowledge him when it is convenient or we’re in serious need.

   Several times in the Scripture God is referred to as being jealous of our relationship with Him. God seeks to be the main thing in our life.

   Our relationship with God and His Church is either the main thing in our life or nothing!

It Doesn't Have to Be that Complicated!

   My favorite professor in seminary (preaching school) when we were in the midst of exegesis (trying to figure out what the Bible means) used to tell us “It isn’t that complicated!” Unfortunately, we preacher types in the effort to sound educated and scholarly often make living the Christian life more complicated than it has to be.

   Take a few moments to consider some thoughts about living the Christian life without unnecessary complications:

   Start each day with a conversation with God. Preachers call this prayer, but it really isn’t anything more than a good talk with the one who loves and cares for us the most.

   Consult and face the challenges of your life with the principles found in the Bible (God’s thoughts and directions). With all of the study guides available in print and electronic form, no one has an excuse for not knowing the truths that are found in the Bible.

   Seek to know the Lord for yourself. Too often our knowledge of the Lord comes from parents, preachers, teachers or the latest bestselling book. Actually knowing someone is far more gratifying than knowing about them.

   Show honor and respect to others. You have to admit that this is tough because we live in a time where the more profane and crude a movie, stand-up comic or primetime television program is the more popular it is. Jesus taught that we are to show honor and respect to everyone whether they deserve it or return it.

   Live a life of contentment regardless of your circumstances. Someone said that when life is difficult you have two choices: either get better or get bitter. Unfortunately many choose the latter. The Apostle Paul wrote in 2nd Corinthians, chapter 4, verse 16: “So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. (NRSV)

   Lastly, live in the anticipation of the return of Christ. I’m not one who dwells on finding the time, date and moment when Christ will return. I have too much to do and try to accomplish before that blessed event. However I do look forward to what is being prepared not only for me, but for all who confess Christ as Lord. Jesus prayed: “Father, I want those You have given Me to be with Me where I am, and to see My glory, the glory You have given me because You loved Me before the creation of the world.” (TNIV)

   It Doesn’t Have to Be that Complicated!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Death by Ministry

   The local church ministry is a dangerous job. It doesn’t appear to be, but statistically it ranks in the same category as deep sea welders and loggers. It is behind crab fishermen, but ahead of munitions workers.

   The overuse of statistics can cause ones eye’s to glaze over and roll back, but I’ll take that risk and share some with you some statistics regarding pastoral ministry as related by Rev. Eugene Cho in an article dated March 14, 2011:

   48% believe that their work is hazardous to their family’s well being
   45% will experience burnout or depression that will make them leave their jobs
   70% report that they’ve had a significant stress-related crisis at least once in their ministry
   33% say that being in ministry is an outright hazard to their family

   The ministry is a complex calling: a calling where compartmentalizing is impossible. I don’t know anyone involved in ministry who leaves their work at the office at the end of the day. A quick stop at the supermarket can result in an impromptu counseling session. Standing in the checkout line can become an opportunity for outreach. Pastoral visits can take place at the post office, coffee shop or restaurant and at the least expected time.

   Peter reminded us to “be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” (1 Peter 3:15) The truth is that anyone involved in pastoral ministry should not be surprised by the unexpected.

   I love being a pastor and have had the privilege of serving some fine churches filled with many wonderful people. I am thankful that I serve a church that is very encouraging and supportive of my ministry. However, too often that isn’t the case for many of my colleagues.

   Let me encourage you who are trudging through this to care, pray and love the staff that serve your congregation. Be generous and supportive of them. Honor their spouses, love their children, pray for them and regularly share your appreciation and affirmation.

   Let me state clearly that this is a two-way street. Let me encourage pastors, ministers, clergy and church staff to care, pray and love the congregation you are called to serve. We get what we give. Mutual admiration and support should exist between the clergy and the congregants.

   Despite the intense nature of pastoral ministry, it is immensely rewarding and fulfilling. A recent survey stated that clergy ranked by far as the most satisfied and most generally happy of 198 occupations surveyed. Eighty-seven percent of clergy said they were “very satisfied” with their work, compared with an average of 47 percent of all workers.

   While pastoral ministry is at times exhausting, draining, depressing and overwhelming, it is also meaningful and fulfilling.

   God bless you pastors. God bless your spouses and your children. May you bless your flock and may you be blessed by them. Together may you bless the Lord!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

I didn't think I was lost until I was found

   On Labor Day 2011 my definition and understanding of family began to change for me.

   I grew up in a blended family long before it became common. My older brother’s father died when he was a toddler. My father abandoned my mother before I was born and I grew up knowing nothing about him. My younger brother’s father is the man who raised me and is one of the finest men I know. (My mom and “dad” will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary this November!)

   We were a family with three boys with the same mother; different fathers and different last names. Believe it or not, that was quite uncommon in the 1960s.

   Growing up I never spent a lot of time wondering about my biological father. It didn’t seem that important to me. After I married and became an adoptive dad, I realized how difficult it is growing up with no knowledge of family history, medical history and the like. Not only did I have to leave the family history section of medical forms blank for my children, I had to do the same for me. The family “tree” assignments in elementary school only added to the mystery.

   In 2004, I began a search that resulted in getting most of the legal documents that I needed to try to locate my biological father. My major motivation was to obtain medical history, as my mother battled breast cancer and other health issues. I used an internet “people search” service that provided 5 names and addresses that met my search criteria. I sent 5 letters; 4 were returned. One letter was never returned and I filed the information away for another day.

   Through the years, Sharna and I have had conversations about the very real possibility that my biological father could have remarried and had children that would be my half-siblings.

   Last Monday (Labor Day 2011) that possibility became reality.

   Sharna and I had gone to Abilene for a Labor Day getaway. After breakfast, I received two Facebook messages asking if I had ever wondered if I had any paternal relatives. They had reason to believe that I was their cousin and brother respectively. I VERY cautiously responded by stating that I knew little about my biological father and family, but I was curious about what they knew. From my initial search in 2004, I knew enough to determine whether the information they would provide was accurate or a scam.

   The response I received was stunning to say the least.

   My biological father left his family in western Tennessee in the 1950s and joined the Air Force. He was stationed at Cannon Air Force base in Clovis, New Mexico. After his discharge from the military, he worked for the railroad. He met and married my mother, but left after she became pregnant. After some intriguing legal proceedings they were divorced and the story appears to end.

   As time went on, my father married, had 3 children, was divorced from their mother and continued his life. He never told them about his family in Tennessee or about a son in New Mexico. In 1994, they received a phone call from a cousin who told them that she had promised her grandmother that she would find her son and reunite him with the family if possible. It was at that time that 3 siblings learned that they had an older brother. They learned that their grandmother longed for the day when her son would return and she would be able to meet her grandson. She did not live to see that accomplished, but her granddaughter kept her promise.

   Through the years, the siblings talked often of finding their brother, but did not really know how to go about it. They did not have a lot of information to go on, just my name. They weren’t sure they my name was the same. The possibility existed that my dad had adopted me and changed my name. (He seriously considered that, but determined that I was entitled to my own identity and my name.)

   Last Sunday (9-4-11), the subject came up once again and one of them mentioned that just about everyone is on Facebook and that I might be as well. They entered my name, sorted through the results and saw my picture! They saw that my hometown is Clovis, New Mexico and knew that they had found me.

   Since then, I have learned that along with the 2 brothers that I grew up with, I have 2 sisters and a brother, that my biological father is alive and well, and that I have lots of family in Tennessee.

   I have talked with my sisters and hope to talk with my brother soon. I haven’t talked with my father yet as I am still trying to process everything. I am certain that I will travel to the midwest in the near future to meet them.

   What does the future hold? Certainly, nothing changes in regards to the family that supported, nurtured and cared for me for 54 years. I love and care for them as I always have.

   I am enjoying getting to know the sisters, brothers and cousins that I never knew I had.

   I look forward to meeting my father and getting to know and understand him. Like others of the James Dean era, I understand that he sought to live life on his own terms, even if that caused disappointment and heartache. Personal responsibility and accountability are such a huge part of who I am. I struggle with understanding why he would make the choices he made. Perhaps we can learn from each other.

   I am humbled by the knowledge that my cousins and siblings sought to find me even though I wasn’t aware that I was lost. I am overwhelmed by their excitement and desire to know me. I’m amazed that I had a grandmother who expressed her love for me to others even though she knew nothing about me and never would.

   Someone whom I admire and appreciate posted the following on her Facebook page a day or so ago: "It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man." - Psalm 118:8 Sometimes things happen in life that we just don't understand. But then God's bigger plan is revealed.

   I’m not sure what God’s bigger plan in all of this is, but I’m glad that I get to be a part of it and look forward to seeing it come to fruition.

   The past week has been quite a roller coaster ride. It has been good therapy for me to get the story as I understand it in writing. I’ll do my best to keep you up to date.

   Keith Alan Gibbons (Rev. Elvis)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Home Repair/Improvement Randomness

Wow! Home ownership is a real trip! I'm still amazed at the realtor "move in ready" sales pitch! The devil (Satan himself?) is in the details!

Thanks to Allied Home Warranty, we have had a new AC blower motor installed, new dishwasher, hot water heater and the house re-keyed at minimum costs to us! Thanks to OUR realtor who recommended that we buy it when the sellers declined to pay the $350 bucks for it as a courtesy!

In addition to all that, WE have repaired a number of plumbing issues, installed a timer on the water heater, installed a dryer vent (house didn't have one... Go figure!) and are in the process of taking care of their hideous paint job!

Garage doors and "operators" (the current term for openers now days) will be next, maybe this week! The roof will certainly come in the future... Carpets, flooring and the kitchen will have their turn!

The amazing thing is that Yahweh keeps making it possible for us to make the repairs and improvements without incurring any debt! I hope he likes what we're doing... After all it is HIS house! We're blessed to live in it!

That is all!

Rev Elvis

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:The Big O

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Things that strike me as funny...

A woman claims to see God spelled out in her veins...

Rush Limbaugh asked why it was taking Weiner so long to pull out...

A group of atheists are suing the city of Little Rock for posting ads on their busses that read "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life."...

The power went out in our church just as we were beginning worship on PENTECOST Sunday!... Wonder if Yahweh meant anything by that?

A couple bought a house only to discover it was infested with snakes! They had sign a document stating that they knew about it, but their realtor assured them that it was just a story made up by the previous owners to get out of the mortgage! The couple has recently been diagnosed with "snake related post-traumatic stress disorder." Ya think???!!!

Vancouver Canuck fans riot and burn their town when team loses game 7! Wonder what they would have done had they won?

San Francisco plans to ban the purchase of goldfish. This is in addition to their ban on kittens, puppies and hamsters! It is a part of the Board of Supervisors ongoing effort to discourage "impulse buys" of animals! "Hey honey! There is a guy on the corner selling animals out of his mini-van. I think it is time to buy that camel I've always wanted.

Obama on losing cool factor: "It's not as cool to be an Obama supporter as it was in 2008." Really?

Be groovy! Winning!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:The Big O

Friday, May 27, 2011


   I just talked with my parents who live in Webb City, Missouri, which is only a stoplight north of Joplin. The devastation is as real as it looks. Their church (College Heights Christian) has had 70 of their families lose their homes that they are aware of at this time. They are serving as a base for receiving and sorting items that are literally being sent from all over the country.

   At this time they are being overwhelmed with amazing abouts of items that need to be sorted, packaged and distributed, as well as fielding phone calls from people wanting to help and/or needing help.

   The best way to help at this time is to send donations to help people get back on their feet. I would suggest a number of places to donate through: The Salvation Army and The Red Cross are the best known relief agencies. Some others are: Week of Compassion (Disciples of Christ), Samaritan's Purse (Franklin Graham), International Disaster Emergency Services aka I.D.E.S. (Independent Christian Church/Churches of Christ) and World Vision. I am certain that you can find the web addresses available for each of those organizations via google.

   The College Heights church is also receiving donations to help. Their address is: College Heights Christian Church, 4311 E. Newman Road Joplin, MO 64801.

   My parents wanted to make sure that I express their deepest appreciation for the prayers and outpouring of love and concern for them and their community. They are amazed!


About Me

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Odessa, Texas, United States
Husband, Father, Grandfather, Christian, Minister, One of the Good Guys!