Minister's Study

Ministering, writing, and wrestling in a land flowing with sweet tea and deep-fried food

Monday, October 29, 2007

What? They don't take the U.N. seriously?

A few days ago, I noticed this article. Basically, it says that Iran, led by Muslim radicals who decisively support terrorism and promote the destruction of U.S. ally Israel and call the U.S. the devil, officially sneers at the U.N. resolutions passed because of Iran's continued work toward becoming a nuclear power. Huh. Didn't see that one coming at all.

Oh, wait. That's exactly what we all knew would happen (well, all of us with a smidgeon of sense, anyhow) when the U.N. allowed Iraq to casually disregard resolutions and act in blatant disregard for the ceasefire that ended the first Iraq war. When, instead of enforcing their own resolutions, key U.N. nations chose to criticize the United States for removing Iraq's ruthless, terrorist-supporting, genocide-enacting, chemical-weapon-using thug of a dictator, the U.N. sacrificed the right to have the world take its punitive resolutions seriously.

Fortunately, when Iraq broke the ceasefire that allowed Hussein to remain in power, obstructed U.N. weapons inspectors, and flaunted U.N. resolutions that promised action, there were still some countries that had the will to do something about it. The United States and its allies chose to put their money, their militaries, and the lives of their soldiers where the U.N. put its mouth. After all, what's the point of resolutions and ceasefires if no one will enforce them?

And that's what Iran has realized. The United States, with its large-spread public rejection of finishing the job in Iraq, has made it clear that many in this country have no more stomach for war. And if our military won't back the resolutions of the U.N., why should anyone take them seriously? Can we really see France or Germany invading Iran to eliminate a regime with nuclear weapons that could destabilize a region or be used to obliterate entire cities in the free world? I'd laugh if it weren't so pathetic and terrible. If the U.N. loses the ability or the will to enforce its resolutions against rogue nations with terrorist regimes, it loses whatever dubious power it had as a stabilizing force for this planet. It looks to me as if Iran figures that's already happened.

And so, I guess congratulations are in order for those who have made so much noise opposing the war in Iraq -- it looks likely to me that they will win at some point in the near future, and the U.S. will withdraw its troops (more on that another time) before they can finish the job we sent them to do. The grand prize for Iraq-war-opponents winning their war against victory? A world in which terrorist regimes can do whatever they want in preparation for the prosecution of the war they have declared on freedom, because they know no one will guard the ceasefires and enforce the resolutions.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Brother coming to town

As it turns out, my brother did not get the job at the Pender Post. Only time will tell how that decision plays out for both parties. Paul has, however, decided to move down here to Pender County and help out at Bible Baptist Church. It seems that his current long-range goal is to head into evangelism; in the mean time and as he takes the first steps down the road to full-time itinerant work, he'd like to be involved in a good, active, soul-winning church that shares the bulk of his convictions.

Fortunately, the job market here seems to be terrific as we head toward the holidays -- he shouldn't have any trouble at all finding work (and given his past job experiences, I expect that even if a place hires him seasonally, they won't want to let him go at the end of the season if they can help it). With us likely moving soon to a place with considerably more space than our current abode, he may stay with us for a month or two in exchange for helping to fix the place up; that should give him plenty of time to seek affordable housing.

I'm looking forward to his arrival, as are some of the church folk (I even know of one or two who have been praying for months that he would decide to come here); there's always plenty to do for a reliable fellow who knows his Bible, has some music training, and doesn't mind working.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Share-a-thon sarcasm

I've got to be more careful about what I'm sarcastic regarding. For years, I have mocked radio share-a-thons. Although I suppose I'd rather listen to a radio station that takes regular programming off for a week or two out of the year to get listener funding than one that stops for commercials obnoxiously selling things I don't want roughly every 2.5 seconds, I've long made it a point never to listen to the share-a-thons themselves. I mean, that's like subscribing to a round-the-clock telemarketer channel, or something. Not something your average non-masochist does voluntarily.

See what I mean? I can't even talk about them without being sarcastic. It's not like I've got much by way of better ideas to raise funding for listener-supported radio -- I just can't stand listening to people ask for money for hours on end.

And today, I became one of those people. We're in the middle of the Fundamental Broadcasting Network's fall share-a-thon, and since my church operates an AM FBN station, I was asked to help out. Brother Gibbs has long done so, and it would have been ungracious for me not to participate. So for about four hours, I sat with two other guys in a radio studio, and we asked people for money. I think it went pretty well, and the share-a-thon is probably ahead of schedule.

I didn't blog about this ahead of time, partly because I was mildly ashamed to participate in something I have so scorned, and partly because I know none of you would have listened anyhow -- what sensible person wants to listen to someone they know ask for money for hours on end? And I'm sure all the readers of this blog are eminently sensible people. Ahem. Yes, really, I'm not being sarcastic this time. Really.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Housing hopes

I've held off on posting about this for a while, partly because of time, and partly because I didn't really have anything definite to report.

Yesterday we got word that our offer was accepted to purchase a place a little ways up the road from us. It's a 1999 double-wide (probably the largest double-wide I've ever seen -- over 2,000 square feet of floor space) on an acre of land that looks like it shouldn't flood under reasonable circumstances (hey, that's all you can ask down here -- it's out of all the flood plains and flood zones, but there's never any telling what the next storm might do.)

Although the place is a little farther from the church than we would have liked, the price is right, and that pretty much makes the place right. Since it's a foreclosure, the interior is beat up a bit. (I'll refrain from a rant about people who tear things up because they can't have them any more -- I'm sure it's frustrating, but when you punch holes in the walls of a place you're losing to foreclosure, you're damaging a stranger's house, and it's not their fault you can't keep it. Deliberately damaging someone else's house is vandalism, and a temper tantrum is no excuse. Sorry, okay, I'll stop ranting now. Really.) The place seems solid, though, in the ways that really matter, and we can fix drywall and replace carpets. In a sense, I suppose it's almost a favor -- there's probably no way in this world we could have afforded the place if it were in perfect condition. We've got a home inspection coming up (one was done several months ago, but not for us, and it didn't check the well and septic, both of which are obviously big issues.)

We're hoping to be able to move in before the end of November, so we don't have pay rent for December; I'd like to be moved before it gets wintery here, anyhow. (Yeah, yeah, I know, the winters here are a joke compared to places my wife and I have lived -- but why move in sleet and slush if you can help it?) It's possible I can post a few pics of the place as time rolls on and we get further into the deal. There's still a lot to be done with mortgage company, lawyers, and whatnot. This will, of course, be the first house my wife or I have owned. We figure at this point on staying there for a few years to build some equity and then selling it to move to a stick-built house, if we can.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Revived again

Last night we wrapped up a four-day revival that celebrated our homecoming here at Bible Baptist Church. We brought in Dr. Ray Stagno from Staten Island, NY, to preach the revival. The astute reader and rememberer will recall that I worked as assistant pastor for Dr. Stagno for about three and a half years before moving down here.

The services went extremely well. We had more children on the bus Sunday than any week since I've been here, and there were several professions of faith made over the weekend. The Spanish S.S. class had a record nine in attendance. Dr. Stagno's messages (Five Essentials for a Quality Christian Life) were quite well received.

Although I'm not big on being nervous, the services going well allowed me to breathe a sigh of relief. This was the first actual revival I'd scheduled since becoming pastor, and so my choice of speakers and the way the services went were bound to be under a little scrutiny, even if it was unconscious.

It was good to see an old friend and to talk about the people and places we have in common. It was also a bit amusing to see someone born and raised in NYC down here in Burgaw, NC. Although people are basically the same everywhere, in a lot of ways, those are two different worlds. Fortunately, God is the same, no matter what accent you wear on your speech, and His Word hasn't changed, even for those who root for the Yankees instead of the Braves. (As it happens, I pull for neither, but I'm ashamed to admit my team after the close of this year's season! Good thing the Giants are doing well in football -- I was set for all kinds of humiliation if they had kept on the way they started.)

I've got an open invitation to go preach at South Baptist, where it appears Dr. Stagno plans to remain as pastor for a while yet, and we'll have to get back up there sometime to see the rest of our friends and remind our daughter of the place she lived for a time, before she forgets completely.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Oh Brother, Where Art Thou (working)?

My youngest brother came in for a couple days at the end of last week and stayed with us. He's wrapping up his responsibilities where he's currently at, and looking for the next place to be. Since there's a job opening at the Pender Post, where I used to work (basically my old job), at my recommendation, he came down and interviewed for that. I think he could potentially be a real asset to the paper; although he doesn't have newspaper experience, his grammar skills are good, and he's a responsible, hard worker who can learn what people are willing to teach him -- and those qualities are really more important than any amount of experience. A person doesn't have to be a brilliant writer to work for a newspaper -- they just need to be able to collect information from a variety of sources, condense it intelligently, and communicate it comprehensibly. Creativity and brilliance are a plus, but they're worthless without a work ethic, basic intelligence, and decent character -- and they're next to worthless without good grammar.

But I've got an ulterior motive in hoping my brother ends up here, beyond hoping my old paper is successful -- I'd also love to have him here to work in the church. People with Bible college education, intelligence, diligence, and willingness to work (not to mention musical ability and training) are in all-too-short supply. He could potentially be a real asset to the church for as long as he elects to stay, and the church could possibly be a great place for him to launch off on his next step.

The interview with the paper went okay, from what I gather, and he also collected applications from a variety of other places around town. We'll just have to see what comes of it all. While he was here, we went with the editor of the paper to a fly-in at a local airport -- I'll have to post again later with some of the neatness from that.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

That bus looked too new anyhow.

We ran both of our new buses last Sunday for the first time, and they both ran just fine. Although they're closing on the 20-year-old mark, they both have relatively new engines and key components, and we look to get several years of good use out of them.

Of course, one of the bus-riders apparently decided a new bus looked too new -- she brought along a permanent marker with her and drew on the outside and inside of the bus. Of course, she then lied about it (and it's not like a ridiculous number of people, including an adult, hadn't seen her do it) and, once realizing she was caught, couldn't acknowledge that what she did was wrong. No wonder preachers have high blood pressure sometimes. Oh, well -- if the worst bus problem we have to deal with this week is cleaning some markings off a bus, we're SO blessed compared to the months before.

Sunday morning, a young woman visited with her children and mother-in-law. It turned out that a pair of our men had given her a brochure the preceding week. My wife and I visited her on Thursday night, and she decided to trust Christ to save her. Ironically, her husband is a car salesman I'd spoken to several times while we were shopping for a used van for the church, and he'd said repeatedly that he and his family were coming to church, but hadn't made it yet. The wife says they'll all be here this Sunday. A young man in jail also made a profession of faith with me this week. Both seemed very sincere in their professions.

Speaking of this Sunday, we celebrate homecoming at Bible Baptist Church tomorrow. Dr. Ray Stagno, the pastor I worked for in Staten Island, is preaching for us from Sunday through Wednesday. As it happens, my youngest brother is also in town for a couple days -- he came by to interview for basically my old job at the Pender Post. I'm rather hoping things will work out for him to move down here; he could be a big help in the church, and the church seems like an ideal place for what he is looking to accomplish in his life right now. And although he doesn't have newspaper experience (neither did I when I started with them), he's a diligent researcher, intelligent analyst, and hard worker. There's no telling if this will work out, but I think it could work out well for all concerned.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

A nice gesture

Some time back, one of our bus crews discovered what appeared to be a gemstone in a parking lot while out visiting their riders. After much speculation and analysis, it was determined that it wasn't really a diamond or a white sapphire, but merely cubic zirconium. It is nonetheless a beautiful stone, measuring about 3.5 carats.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch.... Sorry, I looked at my av picture and thought I was in a western. Anyhow, it happens that my wife's wedding bands don't fit her too well during the summer here -- the heat makes her hands swell a bit. So we'd gotten her a plain, inexpensive band until we could afford something better for the summers. When she saw this stone, although she generally doesn't like large rings, she commented off-hand that if it weren't terribly valuable, she'd buy it from the fellow who actually found it (and planned to donate whatever it sold for to the bus ministry). As it turned out, the wholesale value of the stone was about $5. She figured on maybe putting it into an inexpensive setting and combining it with the inexpensive band we'd bought -- it would look very nice that way.

The group got to talking, and decided it wouldn't do to make her pay for it after all the work she puts into the children here (and she's not paid a dime for it, nor am I paid extra because of the activity of my wife -- she does it just like any ordinary church member would). And they didn't want to just give her a rock. So they went out and had it set in a ring, and gave it to her. It's lovely, and a lovely gesture from some men who recognize the work and caring she's put into those children. I love my church.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Buses galore!

Well, it feels like we've got buses galore, anyhow. After struggling to keep one on the road for months, having three in reasonably working order feels like a surfeit.

We finally got the second bus from the fellow we're buying from, swiftly checked it out, and now have it titled and insured. For the first time since I took over, we should have two pretty good buses on the road Sunday morning. Of course, this past Sunday, we sent out two, but one got a flat, so we had to scramble the van out there to ferry the kids in off the bus. Fortunately, the bus was near the end of its route. Now, with three buses, we have an alternate if something goes wrong with one of the others.

Now we've also got two buses that aren't working right now -- one in the shop having the engine rebuilt, and the other that's been sitting here giving up its parts to keep the others working. We'll have to settle on what to do with those -- three buses is enough, but five truly is too many at the moment.

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