Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Crisis Preparation Saves Money And Can Be Fun

If you have not read the post before this one, it would be good to read it first. But if you don't have time for that, we will say that there are a number of biblical reasons for making preparations for a longer period than just this week for food and water at your home. FEMA also has noted reasons that the government says you will not be able to count on them for a undetermined period of time based on the level of crisis one might face. All of that said, let's look at motivation for Crisis Preparation.

One problem that we face on this subject is that there is a drive for normalcy that tells us that we won't have problems like others face. Families all over the world today are being faced with displacement from their homes by Islamic radicals, unexpected snow storms, and floods. This is the time of year that we begin to anticipate weather transitions that bring severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. Hurricane season starts in four months. And yet knowing all of this we assume that everything will be just the same for us because we are 'US'.

If people in crisis were asked what they wish they had done before the crisis, most of us could guess what they would say. "I wish I had something to feed my family and something to quench their thirst that is safe to drink. I wish I had shelter for my family and something to keep them warm in this winter cold. I wish I had a source of light, of water to wash with, and protection for security. I wish I had something to keep these mosquitos off and some sunscreen to deal with this sun as I work in recovery." These examples could go on for a long time if you put yourself in the shoes of others.

Isn't it 'tempting fate' or 'jinxing ourselves' or 'just being negative' to think about these things? No, for two reasons. First, as Christians we should not base our life on superstitions like fate and jinxes. That is for baseball players and such. God has already told us to make provision for our families. We are not supposed to worry about what we will eat or drink. Jesus told us that Himself. I doubt, however, that He told any farmers to stop farming because that was a lack of faith. I doubt that He told any women to stop stockpiling the food from the harvest to use through the winter and spring while the new crops came up. Worrying is a sin; working is not.

Second, Crisis Preparation done properly saves money. If you buy foods you will normally eat, then you will only be getting ahead on your purchases. You do not have to buy MRE's and such to be preparing for a crisis. So, if your family eats meat, then buy meat when it is on sale. Put part of the meat away in your freezer, or even better, in mason jars that do not require refrigeration. The Crisis Expo will show you how to do that if you sign up for that class in advance (883-8905). You can also learn about saving water in the Basic Preparation class at the Expo. If you are going to eat a lot of green beans through a year, then when they are on sale, buy more than you need that week or month. You can do this with all kinds of foods other than fresh vegetables and fruit.

Purchasing food in bulk or for storage requires watching the dates of food to keep the oldest cans up front to be used next. However, this method saves money because families are less likely to go out to eat if they know they have food at home. In fact, always having food on hand means that families that plan ahead can put something in the crock pot that will be ready to eat when they get home. That takes the pressure off of parents to get food ready when they are already tired.

Eating out is the most expensive way to feed your family. If you hate to do dishes, then use paper or plastic plates and bowls. Using throw away dishes is still significantly cheaper than eating out or doing fast food at home. Don't expect children or youth to agree. Sometimes we have to be the responsible adult and save the budget. I wish I had done this better when my own children were at home.

Needless to say, if we knew how to grow our own food and canned it, there would a sense of accomplishment along with having some of the freshest food in town. If we can the food in mason jars, we can enjoy it until the harvest time next year. Everyone seems to understand energy independence when we talk about oil and gas from other countries. Some how we need to grasp that food energy independence is viable for most families.

Gardening can be a family activity that results in sustainable living. If you do not know how to garden, find a friend that does. Join in on their garden one year and help them while you learn. Be with them for the whole process from plot planning to dirt preparation to seed selection, planting seedlings, weeding, mulching, bug issues, plant blights, fertilizing, watering, and harvesting. Don't buy a book and spend hundreds of dollars if someone you know can help you put your garden together for much less. The last thing I usually hear is that 'We are too busy already'.

How many of your activities are optional? Learning life long self sustaining practices may just be more important in the long run. I know that children may not be interested at first. My own grandchildren have changed their tune on this. Though they cannot be around all of the time, when they are hear they want to know what is in the garden. This year they helped me dig my sweet potatoes. We had a great time! Some children are better at focusing on a task than others. One of my grandson's did a great job of helping me pull weeds. The other was not so interested, but when I told him that we might find worms, he got more involved!

Monday, January 26, 2015

2015 Crisis Preparation Expo

Hello Church Family and Friends,

It is time for our 5th Annual Crisis Preparation Expo for Southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana. This event is on the third Saturday of February each year. I know that it is a surprise for some of us that many in church family are still unaware of the Expo after all this time. One dear church member who had not been involved with the event in the past noted this past Sunday that this year was the first time they had paid any attention to it. So, for those who are just becoming aware, let me catch you up on this event. The group that puts this together is all volunteer who work with me on planning. The volunteers are Christians from our area that believe in living a wise lifestyle in caring for their families. These people are not all members of our church. Some of them have professional experience in crisis preparation, but most are just grassroots practitioners.

The goal of the event is to help people know how to make common sense every day kinds of choices that would help them do well during unexpected problems. Some of this is like hurricane preparations. In other cases, it is preparedness that would serve one well if they lost their job. Some of the training is about sustainable living like gardening and animal husbandry. So, you will hear everything from FEMA recommendations on basic preparedness, to how to use solar power, or how to have your own hive of honey bees. Some of the vendors in the Expo hall will have things to help with all of these projects including things like essential oils to help with health and well being. Others will show you how to find edible plants in the woods, or teach hunting and fishing for those who like to learn survival skills.

So how much does it cost? There is no charge for the event. That's right, the classes and the Expo hall viewing is free. We really want people to come so that we can give them information about being prepared not only for life but for eternity, too! Many of our vendors will be sharing the Gospel and the class teachers will also. If you have lost friends, bring them along. One question that we get asked from time to time is whether there will be a gun show. The answer is 'No'. We will not risk the church family or our guests with the possible issues that could come from this addition. We do believe in protecting the families that God has given us, but there are other gun shows and stores in the community. We will have people on site that are concealed handgun class instructors that will be telling people what they might want to know to get started in the security area.

But one might ask, "Isn't all of this a lack of faith?" I usually find out upon asking that these people have life insurance, health insurance, auto insurance, home insurance, flood insurance, fire insurance, dental insurance, cell phone insurance, etc. I suppose all of that insurance is a lack of faith too, if food insurance, water insurance, heat insurance and light insurance are a lack of faith. No, the scripture calls us to take care of our families. In fact, to not take care of our families needs makes us worse that an unbeliever in the eyes of God. (1Timothy 5:8) The book of Proverbs is full of verses calling us to work hard and store up for needs as an agricultural community would. We do not have the guarantee that the grocery stores will always be full or that we will always have a job. Proverbs 27 12 says "A prudent person foresees the danger ahead and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.”

I hope that you visit this blog again later this week as I present some of the reasons we encourage people to prepare and the common sense thinking behind it all.


Friday, August 8, 2014

A Good Secular Media Editorial on ISIS

You may want to go to a news item that expressed the frustration of many people who watch these barbaric behaviors of persecution. Though the editorial is not Christian per se, it reveals much of the lack of media attention to these issues today. At the Fox News website there is an item called Daftari: World silent on Genocide, rape, in Syria and Iraq. She places all things 'humanist' in opposition to all things 'terrorist'. Humanism as the world understands it is not a philosophically acceptable description of biblical faith, but you will get the point anyway.

God Bless,
David Turner

Who Is ISIS and what do we do about the Christian persecution?

             For those of us who have basically good health and circumstances there is a sense that life is as it should be. Our problems are not so big in light of the people around us that are dealing with cancer, grief, a job loss, etc. But today in our world, at what is supposed to be the most advanced technological and enlightened period of human history, children's heads are being cut off because they are identified as Christians. A city of 50,000 people were all forced to leave their city and flee to the mountains of Kurdish neighbors in northern Iraq. Why? Because they claim to be Christians. You and I know that all of them are not Christians, but they are identified as Christians by the ISIS, or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. These radical Sunni Muslims are not only killing Christians, they are killing Shiite Muslims and other non-Sunni or non-Muslim groups.
             We know from Matthew 24 that persecution of Christians is a hallmark of Christian eschatology. The passage is not fulfilled because there has always been Christian persecution. It is fulfilled by the fact that the persecution will grow like birth pangs until the Lord returns. Matthew 24 was spoken to the disciples of Jesus and recorded as a revelation of God for today, as well. So, as usual, the Word of God will be fulfilled as it is now. What can we do about it? The first thing is that we pray for these people. We ask God's will to be done in the lives of these people and that God will intervene on their behalf. Those who are truly born again believers can count on the promise of Romans 8:28, as long as you understand that verse in light of all eternity and not just our short lives in this world. We cannot be called to suffer with Christ and not have suffering. That is one reason we are called to witness no matter how it makes us feel. If nothing else we can suffer through the discomfort of confronting someone with the love of God in the gospel. The next things we can do are not as powerful, but also needed. You can give to the humanitarian efforts through that Baptist Disaster Relief or Samaritan's Purse. The Voice of the Martyrs' often gives people the opportunity to directly encourage those facing persecution. If the Lord tarries, Christians in the USA will move from being politically incorrect and opposed to persecuted, as well. Let us make the most of our opportunities to meet needs while we can. Here are some sites: www.baptistrelief.org www.samaritanspurse.org www.persecution.com which is the Voice of the Martyrs site.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

What This Motion Changes: from the Special Called Conference Blog #2

Maybe we can best answer this by noting what it does not change. The motion passed does not change any of the youth, children, or preschool activities of our church. It does not change the possiblity of people meeting to pray with a prayer list, or no prayer list on Wednesday nights at 6 p.m. It does not change any of the schedule for Sunday afternoon. So what does it change?

The priority of Sunday evening worship will now be prayer. That does not mean that we will not sing. It does not mean that there will be no scripture, or even a limited "sermonette". It simply means that all ages will meet in the worship center at 6:30 p.m. with an emphasis on praying corporately to God. We may have testimonies of answered prayer. It is not for us to tell God what we plan to do. We are desiring to "protect" the priority of corporate prayer at a time when a significant number of people can choose to participate. Some might wonder if we are going to keep some people away because it will get dark and some cannot drive at night. If one of our church family has this problem on Sunday night, they would also have that problem on Wednesday night. We need to respond to their need by providing them transportation if they ask. Some anticipate that this change will "kill" the Sunday night service. I believe that is why a provision has been included for the church council to evaluate in July and make a reccomendation to the church for continuation, revision, or reversal. What is to be gained by all of this?

The people who work with our preschoolers, children, and youth, on Sunday during discipleship time will be able to attend a discipleship class. People who desire to continue the Wednesday night prayer emphasis will be able to do so, and we will discuss this in prayer meeting before the January 1st transition. Those who pray on Wednesdays as a group are encouraged to be a part of the Sunday evening corporate prayer time. This would increase the number of people who pray, as well as the time spent in prayer throughout the body. One comment was that some who do not know how to pray might learn through active participation or listening to others. No one will ever be required to pray aloud; not even in a small group. Another potential addition would be those guests mentioned that would come to Wednesday night dinner and then stay for a class. One might hope that the music ministry would benefit by more people staying on Wednesday night who could be prospects for the adult choir. One has asked whether there could be a Wednesday evening worship service. The answer is yes, if the church sees the need in out biblical priorities for those who are shift workers, for example. The service would be attended by those not participating in other groups. This provides many new options, but are there concerns?

One concern would be an "every man for himself" mentality, where people feel free to just do what ever they please. We had to deal with this during Sunday School over the years. There was the Hall class and the Burnt offerings class of years gone by.  If we are going to be honest about biblical priorites, we cannot set up little visiting sessions (see gossip in the Bible), or 'Bible studies' that have not been approved by the church council. In years gone by, we have had groups establish themselves to teach the latest fad theology or a renewed ancient heresy. If there is a legitimate need, then those involved can enhance its legitimacy by presenting it to church council. As pastor, my job description has always included Adult Education. I will be happy to meet with anyone to help them with a perceived need for our church.

One last note. As a Southern Baptist church, we can have motions made in new business in any regular conference, to change anything but the Constitution and By Laws. We could vote to paint the church purple. We could vote to require everyone to wear blue jeans. When we make a motion for consideration by the body of Christ, we must do it with as much care as we would expect to show if we were responsible for writing and preaching the sermon next Sunday morning. The unity of the church is not a matter to take lightly. Having one's way with church policy or scheduling is never the goal. We are supposed to seek the mind of Christ for His church. He is the head of the body. We should not be shy about the process of discovering His will as a church family. If you are still uncomforable with the parlimentary process, that is designed to maintain peace in the process of working through change, please let me know. I will be happy to present to any group or individual the 'basic' process which all orderly SBC churches use. I love you all and continue to pray for the Lord's leadership as we walk down this road together.

Your Pastor,
David Turner

P.S. I have sensed that some believe the motion that was presented may have been coached in advance, by me, or someone on the staff, who also wanted these changes made. I assure you that this is not the case. There would be judgment on anyone who spoke of allowing God to lead, who then manipulated the situation to make it turn out as they pleased. Christian maturity should drive us all away from 'church politics'. God bless you all.

Special Church Conference Schedule Changes from November 2013 Blog #1

It always unsettles me when there are changes in the church schedule. Many people do not choose to participate in church conference where things can be changed significantly at any time. This is certainly not the case with our most recent conference. Let's examine the lead up to conference.

In our October conference there was a discussion of potential schedule changes that would provide more options for adults on Wednesday nights. A change in the schedule effects all of the other activities throughout the week. We agreed in conferenence (which was running long) that we would pray for two weeks and come back to discuss a way forward on the issue. At this point I personally distributed a multiple page evaluation on the issue from three years before. That is right, we were examining this issue three years ago, even before Dan Calkins was on staff. The issues discussed in that piece were related to the priorities given the various activities of the church.

That document reminded everyone that we "protect" the priority of worship by allowing no other activities during worship and by discouraging people even cooking and setting up during worship for a lunch that is to follow. We "protect" the Bible study of Sunday School from other activities. We "protect" discipleship time from the over reach of committee meetings which begin an hour earlier than discipleship. We "protect" outreach on Monday nights by prohibiting the calendaring of church events in conflict with visitation from 6 to 7 p.m. This makes perfect sense because these are biblical priorities. It makes as much sense to "protect" the biblical priority of corporate prayer. We have accomplished this for many years by setting aside the time from 6 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday nights. So why was there a motion to change the schedule as we have it?

Wednesday night is a time that the church family thought we could help each other make it to the evening events by having a dinner. Pastor Woody Jackson started the dinner and  even cooked it for some time. Eventually others took a shift to relieve him of this work. For the last several years there have been adults who said they would like to invite others to the Wednesday night dinner and activities but did not think that unbelievers would appreciate the prayer meeting. Since we were "protecting" the time slot, they did not see an alternative. Some took it upon themselves to create alternate activities and even prayer times without the approval of the church. Ultimately, this needed to be a matter of prayer so that we could discover the mind of Christ on this scheduling issue.

After encouraging the church to pray through this period of time, and discussing it on Sundays including the multipage document that was distributed, I hoped that serious prayer was going up to God on this issue. As your pastor, I know some of you prayed carefully about this matter. We did not need the best of our opinions, but the very best direction we could receive from God to maximize our schedule and protect biblical priorities. But the last church conference had displayed a weakness in our ability to communicate clearly.

Because there were several people who did not understand the parlimentary process of creating a motion to accomplish business in conference, I offer a special training this past Sunday at 3 p.m. before the called conference to make certain that anyone with questions could learn the process. We displayed the time on the media slides before the service and published the time in the Cypress Heart. We wanted to make certain that no one was intimidated by the parlimentary process. This must not have been an issue because only six people attended and two of them already had a pretty good idea of the simple process. So, when the called conference began the first person to address the chair presented a motion that was corrected and was finalized to say, "I move that we move church-wide prayer meeting to the Sunday evening worship time beginning January 1, 2014, allowing the children and youth to participate, for a period of six months when it will be evaluated by church council." One question for clarification resulted in a description of the change being like the special prayer events we had on Sunday nights previous to the last election. After the amendments were final, there was the call to vote first by voice and then by a show of hands for greater accuracy. The motion passed. But, what does it mean? What will now change? Have we discovered a way forward that protects the biblical priorities and reflects the mind of Christ. That is what will unfold in the days to come. I will outline some possiblities in my next blog.
Your Pastor,
David Turner

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Stock Market Warnings

If you have watched the stock market drop 410 points on the Dow today and hopefully have been able to watch it come back up, were you concerned? If is important to pay attention to the signs built into the economy, It is even more important to pay attention to the signs or warnings built into the Word of God. Isaiah 1:15-20 reads,“So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you; Yes, even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are covered with blood. Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil, Learn to do good; Seek justice, Reprove the ruthless, Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow.
“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool. If you consent and obey,
You will eat the best of the land; “But if you refuse and rebel, You will be devoured by the sword.”
Truly, the mouth of the Lord has spoken." NASB95)

If our nation does not stop aborting millions of children, God will not answer our prayer for the  nation because we have so much blood on our hands. He will turn us over to judgment. As you pray on Saturday, pray for God to bring conviction on the nation for its sin and this atrocity. As you pray, are you making any preparations for your family? Remember, it does not matter how much money you have if there is nothing left to buy. These last days are important times for Christians to be alert. We need to fight becoming deceived by those who only want our money, time, and influence. We need to devote ourselves to pray, the knowing the Word of God, and to being ready to meet needs for our families and those around us even if it is inconvenient to us.