Saturday, December 26, 2015

What It's All About

Well, another holiday season is about to pass us by.  Again, it has been crazy busy and filled with the hustle and bustle that seemingly never ends.  Last year, we did not go Black Friday shopping due to the fact that all the stores opened so early on Thursday, we refused to leave our families on Thanksgiving.  This year, the stores opened even earlier, and we again stayed home with our families.  But this year, we decided to just spend the evening out shopping after all the "crazy people" had gone home.  It was a good choice, and we met late that Thursday and shopped until the wee hours of the night.
This year, the group consisted of myself, Chrystal, Rachel, Rick and Jerrica.  We met at Walmart and began our night.  It was crowded, but not as much as we were used to.  In many ways, it was sort of more enjoyable that way.  We purchased a few items and headed for the check out.  It was then I looked up and almost passed out.  Let's just say it was a classically dressed walmart shopper.  The lady had nude colored pants on and I was almost sure she was without bottoms on.  I was wrong, thankfully, but the group didn't let me hear the end of that.  So, when we got to the check out lane, I spoke to the cashier.  I encouraged her to check the lady behind me really good as she was just released from jail for shoplifting.  I admitted she was my sister, but didn't want her to go back to jail and to please understand she was a kleptomaniac.  By the time I was done cashing out, my sister had heard our conversation.  The cashier was checking out everything Chrystal was buying and her cart to make sure nothing was being stolen.  Chrystal finally "admitted to the cashier" she had a problem, but assured her it was under control.  When my sister Rachel walked by who had cashed out at another lane, she spoke out and said, "Chrystal, you didn't steal anything did you?"  The cashier was a little nervous, but thankfully Chrystal didn't steal.  Well, then again, maybe she did.  While we were shopping, she saw a toy that her daughter really wanted, but they were out of.  It was in another person's cart.  Now that person was looking at clothes and left her cart in the aisle.  I don't want to say anything, but Lici did love that toy!
We then went out to the car.  We were all going to ride around in Rick and Rachel's car.  We put a few items in my trunk and headed to the car.  It was then that I saved Jerrica's life (maybe a little over dramatic here).  She was walking between cars when a speeding car came flying by.  Let's just leave it at a close call.   We then went Eastgate and went to Toys R Us and Kohls.  The lines were still pretty large and I again was able to convince Chrystal to spend more of her money (it is always a goal of mine).  We got a few good deals and then Chrystal swore she was done being talked into buying things by me.  It was in line that I saw some awesome Charlie Brown Christmas glasses.  Her family, on Christmas, were going to watch the Charlie Brown Christmas movie, so I encouraged her to get them.  She refused, swearing she would not give in.  I was disappointed I was unable to convince her to do so...that is, until two days ago when I saw this picture on her Instagram account:
Yeah, those are the cups and yes she admitted she went back and got them.  We then headed back to Milford to go to Target.  First, we had to stop at a UDF for a soda to keep us going.  I got a Diet Mountain Dew (the nectar of life) and then we were able to continue.  We took a trip to target where I got a great deal on some candles (don't ask, it is a fetish of mine).   We then all agreed to go back to Eastgate to check out a new store.  When we got there Chrystal couldn't believe we were back at Eastgate...though we had just agreed to go there.  A little too tired maybe?
Now this new store was pretty awesome.  They had a little bit of everything.  I didn't buy anything, but they had some odd things.  It was there I found a little gem.  I took this little gem and put it on and hid in an aisle I knew my sister Chrystal was coming to.  It worked to perfection!  It really woke her up!
We then headed out and back to the car.  Other than a useless stop at Meijer, there isn't much more to report.  It was a good night filled with lots of laughs.
After a few busy weeks at school and church, Christmas finally arrived.  I love Christmas.  This year seemed to have a theme to it.  It was an unplanned theme, but one definitely developed.  I call it a nostalgic Christmas for me.
You see, it started on Christmas day.  After a lovely Christmas Eve at my in-laws with gifts, food, and a Garfield Christmas special, we spent Christmas at home-as we always do.  It was a wonderful day of family time.  To me, one of the most important parts of the holiday season is TRADITION.  We woke up that morning, but no one can get out of bed until 8.  We read the Scriptures and had prayer and then opened gifts.  Oh, how I love to see the kids excitement as they do so.  We then played some games.  I lost at Trouble, I lost at Sorry, I lost at Pie in the Face, and then lost to Alex in baseball on his new game system.  I hate losing, even to my kids; but Christmas is different.  It's ok for that one day.  Then, my friend Matt dropped off a gift.  I could not believe what he gave me.  There in the package was my hat.  You see, when we were teenagers, I always wore the same hat.  I had a black Boston Celtics hat with Larry Bird embroidered signature on the front and his name and number on the back.  When I was about 16 or 17, we were at an amusement park and while riding the roller coaster, my precious hat flew off.  We tried to jump a fence to get luck.  We tried to talk a worker to getting it for luck.  I sadly had to leave my hat.  For years, we both joked about losing my hat that day and I swore I would one day get it back.  Well, Matt found the exact hat on the internet and brought it to me.  I couldn't believe it.  It brought back a lot of memories. I so appreciate it Bro. Matt!
The next day, we went to my parents.  It was such a joyous time.  My dad again put on his Christmas hat and read the Christmas Story to all us kids and now his grandkids.  Dad again cried during prayer (and this year his dog decided to bark through the prayer-demonic I believe).  We then all opened gifts.  Dad always starts with stockings.  I replaced my stocking a few years ago with a better one.   It was again awesome to watch the kids and us adults open our stockings.  Rachel got her make up, Chrystal got her nail stuff, and I got my chocolate peanuts and another present we shall leave anonymous dad gets me each year.    We then started opening gifts.  This year, my sisters got me two special gifts.
First, they got me a pack of M.U.S.C.L.E. men!  I absolutely loved these as a kid.  They were my favorite toy growing up.  They even got me rubber bands to go with them.
I couldn't believe they found these.  Again, so many memories.  Then my sisters got me a polar bear.  You see, when I was growing up, I had a favorite stuffed animal.  Obviously it was a polar bear.  His name was Dan.  Even though I grew out of the "sleep with a stuffed animal" stage of life, I kept Dan. He was that one stuffed toy I always liked keeping.  Dan went everywhere with us.  We moved a lot, and Dan was taken each time.  It was while I was away at college my freshman year that my family moved again.  That time, my dad decided to throw away Dan.    He was always brought up when we spoke of bitterness in our house and I am glad that Dan II has now arrived at our home. 

We spent the rest of the day playing games (we loved pie in the face-see Chrystal Snell's Facebook page for videos).  We laughed and shared stories and watched the kids play.  We just enjoyed it all.  Then, we had not even gotten all back home, before we all were texting each other and sharing how we so much appreciate each other and the love we can share.  I told them "I am glad that all our children see it as normal that family get together and enjoy each other's company, laugh, cry, and love."  I want that to be the normal for them someday.  I want them to have traditions, good traditions.  While watching the Garfield Christmas special Christmas Eve, I think that Garfield said it best: "Christmas, it's not the getting or the giving; it's the loving."  That is what it's all about.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Cozaddale Baptist Academy-The Lord has been Good

Soon at Cozaddale Baptist Temple all the children will be being dropped off in their new school clothes, wearing new shoes, with lots of paper, pens, and notebooks ready for another school year to begin.  Those students will find their seats, share stories from the summer, and begin another school year.  For four students, it will be there first year as they enter Kindergarten.  For three, it begins their senior year, which I hope is a fabulous year of good memories.

It doesn't seem possible that I graduated 22 years ago from high school.  I can't even believe I just typed that.  The Lord has sure been good to me and has taught me so much.  As I look forward to teaching again this year, I have been thinking about the history of our school.

This year the Cozaddale Baptist Academy will begin its 19th year.  I can't believe I just typed that as well.  It all began with a phone call in 1996.  I was in college at Fairhaven Baptist College and my dad called me.  He told me that he really felt of the Lord to start a Christian school at our church the following year.  He then told me that upon graduating college, he would like for me to come home and lead in establishing this ministry at Cozaddale Baptist Temple.

I was thrilled, then scared to death.  My senior year at college, one class I had to take was School Administration.  I never paid so much attention in any class like I did that one that year.  To graduate that class, we had to start a fictional school and organize everything from teachers to class schedules to restroom breaks and everything in between.  The difference between my project and everyone else's was that mine was not fictional.

I called my project "The ABC's of CBA."  That  project is still the parent/student handbook we use today (though edited quite a bit).  You will be glad to know that I received an "A" in school administration.

The next fall we began the Cozaddale Baptist Academy.  That first year we had 23 students. (I remember because that was Michael Jordan's number).  We all met in one room with each student a desk attached to the wall in our learning center.  The year went well with my dad overseeing the year very closely.

As the years went on, the school grew and with every year, my dad gave me the reins more and more.  We took the school from a learning center to a traditional class room school.  By the year 2003, the school had 120 students.  While I like to believe we made a lot of positive influence on a lot of children, I also know that I made many mistakes I would love to go back and change.  I began to see that some of my philosophies, while the student's were happy, wasn't the best philosophies.  There was a lot going on behind the scenes that I was too young and ignorant to see.  I guess, my head was in the sand some what.  

Most everyone from those days can tell you about the long recesses, sports programs, and such.  Again, much good can be related and there are young people still faithfully serving the Lord, but I began to notice a trend that the majority of our graduates were not staying faithful to church.  I, as there youth pastor, principal, and teacher, take a lot of that blame.  The Lord began to stir my heart and I began to search the Scriptures more about this ministry.   I studied every aspect from "Is it even Biblical to have a Christian School" to "Why a Sports Program?"

Then, in 2004, my dad was moved of the Lord to Kansas to pastor a church there.  Soon, I was the pastor at Cozaddale Baptist Temple.  I turned over the job of CBA administrator to my good friend Bro. Carr.  We had many talks about philosophy and the direction of our school.  I thank Bro. Carr for years of faithfulness in leading the school and  implementing positive changes as we were led of the Lord.

We limited who was able to enroll their children into our school, we removed all the "dating spirit" out of our academy, we began to focus more on academics and less on entertaining.  We desired for our students to learn what a walk with God is.  Our school schedule was so full, that we eliminated all sports programs, for it had become too much of a priority.  There were many changes, and the school began to shrink.  By 2010, the school had 30 students, but the Lord was blessing.

We began to see changes in the young people.  We had a different spirit amongst students and teachers.  Our graduates are still faithful to church. To God be the glory.  In the last few years, we have brought back again a limited sports program, but now the priority is not a sport and practices are very limited.  Will we be a powerhouse in volleyball or boys basketball?  No, but if our young people are still in church serving God years after graduating, I'm fine with it all.

Some of our earlier graduates from the early days would never consider sending their children to our academy.  Some because they don't care for the spiritual as they should, others because they know some of the foolishness that went on that I wish I could change. But regardless, what everyone will find is a different school than what it was.

I am thankful for the 58 students planning to attend Cozaddale Baptist Academy this year.  I am thankful for their spirit, their love for the Lord, their walk with God, their sweetness.  I am thankful that we do not have to focus on disciplinary actions, but on maturity.   I am looking forward to this year and am thankful for every parent who has entrusted us with the opportunity to be of a help to them in rearing their kids.  You see, this is the greatest difference the Lord has led me in.

The Lord had to show my that it is not my responsibility to rear other people's children, but can be used  of the parents in helping them.  I do see the mandate in the great commission to teach others to "observe all things."  I do see in Psalm 1 the necessity of not sitting our children under the counsel of the ungodly.  Thus I am convicted that parents must lead in the training of their children via home schooling them or the church being a help to them in this way.

So, we begin the 2015/2016 school year.  I am thankful for every student and every graduate that has ever come to CBA and I do not think that any would doubt that I truly loved them. I pray the Lord continues to lead and guide in the upcoming year and years ahead.  Praise the Lord for His blessings and leadership at the Cozaddale Baptist Academy.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Five Reasons Why I Am NOT Leaving My Independent Baptist Church

In the last few years articles keep being written and shared on social media as to why people are choosing to leave their IFB (Independent Fundamental Baptist) church.  Seems almost weekly someone else is posting another person's reasons for their getting out of church or going to some non-denominational church; the whole time pointing the finger at the pastor, preaching, program, and people of these church's for their leaving.

Each posts says basically the same thing:  First it's the "to each their own, I don't want to offend anyone, just sharing my thoughts..."  You know, you can come across as being judgmental and that is one of the reasons you are upset at these churches.  You of course are justified in leaving because you are not judgmental and all these "thoughts" you have about why these churches are wrong are not judgmental at all...right?
Second, you will read the "I don't want to influence anyone in making a decision to leave their church..."  Oh, well of course not.  Why would someone consider leaving their church after reading about all the reasons why you left your church just like the one they are attending?  Makes perfect sense.  We will continue...
Next you will read about how the authors "are sure there are pastors who are not like this out there..."  Shew,  I feel better.
Then the onslaught begins.  You will read about the lack of expository preaching, the apathetic worship, judgmental spirit, and true lack of spiritual teaching and knowledge (you know, the kind you get from John Piper).  Then the writer of the post, who doesn't want to offend anyone or judge anyone, will give some correction to these churches (in love of course).
Oh man do people love reading this who are either out of church today or find themselves as former IFB attendees.  I mean, FINALLY, they are justified in their actions.  Then all those who the Devil is trying to get out of church FINALLY have good reasons to leave their church.  Well done non judgmental, Christian love endorsing, knowing God deeper brother.
But then we take a step back and look at the whole picture.
First, to be fair, sadly there are some churches that have lost their first love.  I pray they can be restored.  I read some of these posts about how awful all these churches are and think to myself, "Wow I am blessed to attend my church!"  We love preaching from the Word of God and really don't have much of an appetite for the "fluff" preaching.  When we sing, it is Christ honoring music sung by believers who sing for one purpose, to worship God.  One elderly man who recently sang in our church paused before singing and said, "This is for the Lord, but you are welcome to listen."  Spot on brother!  Judgmental spirit?   I am sure some would like to challenge me on this, but I will get to that.  I will just say, a strong stand against sin is not judgmental-it's Biblical.  Loving people is Biblical.  Speaking the truth in love is Biblical.
We could go on, but let's get to the nitty-gritty.  Those who write these posts or share these posts need to stop also and evaluate. First, many who share these things are out of church now.  You can read why on those posts and then read their comments "I fully agree," "Spot on article," "Couldn't agree more.."  Then we stop and think.  We read how Christ loves the church (Eph. 5:25).  How can you not like or attend what Christ loves?  Oh, I know some response: "The church is all believers."  Actually no, if you studied the Bible expositionally you would see that there are only local, visible, called out assemblies (John Piper needs to get a little deeper in the Book on this issue).  So Christ loves the church, shouldn't you?  How can you not attend what Christ loves?  Some may say, "But the church I attended was dead, or wrong, or backslidden, or whatever..." Fine, but why aren't you in church today?  There sure are a lot of churches out there preaching the truth, and I will help you find one.  You see, the problem is not the church, it's you.  Can a church go wrong? Sure, it's made up of people.  If my local church went the way of the world this weekend and everything right about it disappeared, I'd go to church next Sunday somewhere.  You see, I don't go to church for people, I go because Christ loves the church and I love Christ. He said I needed church, so I need church.
Many who post and share such articles about why they have left their IFB church need to ask themselves why they haven't been to church in a years.  Let's assume your church you used to attend did go the wrong direction; there are plenty that haven't.  So maybe the problem is not just that church.
Those who have left their old church and now attend a non-denominational church or something like, I would just encourage to pray and ask the Lord to lead you and study your Bible.  Is what is preached there line up with God's Word?  You see, I trust the Holy Spirit will guide the believer to Truth (1 John 4:6).  If you are led to might want to try spirit or study salvation.
Then to those who are still in a good church, but you like sharing those posts about why people have left the Truth, will you stop and think what you are doing?  You may agree with some points (i.e.-I agree we need more expository preaching), but you sharing such things helps no one make the right decisions.  You are pointing people away from the truth.  If you are burdened for your church, talk to the pastor. If there are unbiblical things going on in your church and you have prayed, spoken to leadership, and nothing is going to change, let the Holy Spirit lead you, but don't post on Facebook why Independent Fundamental Baptist are failing, because there are many that are not.  No church is perfect, but there are plenty striving to hold to Truth and honor God.   And can I counsel you?  Be careful, your eyes are leading you astray.
So I finish with five reasons why I am NOT leaving my Independent Baptist Church:
1. I love the Lord and He loves the church.
2. I need the Word of God preached to me and my church is preaching the Truth.
3. The worship in my independent Baptist church is Christ honoring, flesh denying, and from the heart.
4. The people in my church love the Lord, love His Word, and love each other.
5. Not a Sunday goes by that I have not learned, grown, and fallen more in love with my Lord and His church.