pecaspers: a Blog in transition

October 14, 2013

Random Recommended Readings

These are some articles I’ve read over the past few months. Each one has been sitting as an open tab in my browser since reading them so that I wouldn’t forget to share it somewhere. So, here you go; I’m sharing. There really isn’t an overarching theme other than that I think they were all worth reading. Enjoy!

The Blazing Center – “I Don’t Remember Chemistry and I’m Not Homeless”

More Than Dodgeball – “How to Defuse a Bomb”

Desiring God – “Six Benefits of Ordinary Daily Devotions”

Russell Moore – “What’s at Stake with Internet Pornography”

The Gospel Coalition – “Predators in the Pews: Protecting against Child Abuse in Your Church”

Morf Magazine – “Miley Cyrus and the Church”

Michael J Kruger – “The Complete Series: Ten Basic Facts about the New Testament Canon that Every Christian Should Memorize”

August 15, 2013

TMA Article Draft – Happy New School Year

[Originally contributed to the Tallassee Tribune as the Tallassee Ministerial Alliance article for the August 13, 2013 edition.]

Let me be one of the first to wish you a happy new year, a new school year that is. Next week the school-age citizens of our area will be returning to the hallowed halls of learning. Along with that return, everyone else’s lives will lock back into a steadier routine. Coworkers won’t be off on vacation, parents won’t be desperate to find daily activities to occupy their offspring, children won’t be out playing in yards throughout the day, teenagers won’t be hanging out until one day fades into the next–for the most part. Whether you have kids or not, the school year affects all of us as surely as a rising tide raises all boats.

The return to school always brings up one question year after year. What did you do with your summer? It’s the title of an essay for every student at some point: “How I Spent My Summer Vacation.” Did you go anywhere? Did you have any adventures? Did you accomplish any goals? Did you read any good books or see any good movies? Did you work your tail off because in your vocation summer is a busy season? What have you got to show for the last couple months of your life?

Now for the pastoral twist.

Ephesians 5:15-17 says, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is,” (ESV). Did you make a wise use of your summer, and did you ask God on the front end how He wanted you to spend it? If you are like most people, you probably didn’t stop to consider what God thought of your vacation plans, your summer reading, or your bathing suit. And there’s a lesson there; Christians aren’t supposed to be just like everyone else. In context, that is precisely what Paul is pointing out in Ephesians 5. He even begins this section with the audacious instruction to, “…be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God,” (Eph. 5:1-2, ESV).

Now as worthy a point as that is, there is a greater one yet. Do you realize that you will be held accountable before God for how you spent, not just your summer, but every moment of your life? Do you realize that he finds how you have spent and will spend much of your time to be an infinitely offensive evil against His holy character? But thank God that “Christ loved us and gave himself up for us” so that we might stand in his infinite righteousness before God. Being both sinless man and infinite God, Jesus was able to satisfy God’s wrath against our sin and restore to a right relationship with Himself all who will repent (turn away from sin and self-righteous attempts to be “good enough”) and believe in Him.

So the real question isn’t “What did you do with your summer?” What is important is this: What have you done with Jesus?

October 10, 2011

Judging Others

“How about you worry about you, and let them worry about them?” Whether working with young people in church or substitute teaching, that’s the kind of thing I tell students who are complaining about something little another kid has done. And I do mean little; “He’s in the wrong seat,” “She’s talking,” or “They aren’t doing their work.” If he’s in the wrong seat, let that seat’s owner come to me about it. I can hear her talking, and you yelling across the room that she’s talking is a much larger disruption. If you are busy telling me about other people not doing their work, then you apparently aren’t doing your work either. You make sure you are doing what you are supposed to be doing, and leave it to me to make sure everybody else is doing what they’re supposed to do. That’s part of my job, not yours.

“Judge not, that you be not judged,” (Matthew 7:1, ESV). That verse is probably quoted or alluded to more often than John 3:16 is. Most people pull it out when they’ve done something wrong–or continually do wrong as their lifestyle–and don’t want to be held accountable for their actions. When a Christian merely tries to call sin sin, the cry is often, “How dare you judge me/him/her/them! Jesus said, ‘Judge not!'” It doesn’t surprise me when non-Christians get this wrong. I’m horrified, though, at how often I hear God’s people misuse this teaching. This portion of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount continues as follows:

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye (Matthew 7:1-5, ESV).

Jesus’ point isn’t that you can never say anything anyone does is wrong. His point is that you better have the big issues in your life under control before you try to help a fellow Christian with his problems. Take the log out of your own eye, (pay attention, now) then you will see clearly (See clearly to do what, Jesus?) to take the speck out of your brother’s eye! Get it? You make sure you have yourself under control, under the Holy Spirit’s control, so that you can help your brother. For more on this, check out Galatians 5:12 through 6:10.

Christians aren’t to “judge” others in the sense of declaring a final verdict as if we had all the information and were the ultimate authority. Jesus will be the final judge in that sense. However, we must “judge” in the sense of distinguishing between good and evil, sin and righteousness, and sometimes even good and best. With individuals, we must judge in keeping with the law of love, that we love others as ourselves. Most people find it far easier to try to correct others than to actually control themselves. Have you dealt with your planks? When you see a speck, are you trying to help in love or are you just looking for an excuse to poke someone in the eye?

Speaking of which, I think you’ve got a little something in there…

May 16, 2011

Don’t Send Your Kids to College and away from God

The end of the school year is approaching. In the coming months, many of you will be sending your children off to college for the first time. Many more will be sending one or more back to college. Some of you are the ones who’ll be going away. And most of the rest of you reading this article have a grandchild, nephew, niece, cousin, other relative, neighbor and/or close family friend who will be in the collegiate mix as well come August. Don’t let the Sunday before they (or you) go off to college be the last time they (or you) regularly attend a church until they (or you) are married and have children.

That may sound like a strange thing to say, but that’s what happens more often than not. You go to college, and nobody makes you get up on Sunday morning so you don’t. You’ve never had to pick which church to go to because you’ve always gone to the same one–or at least to whichever one your parents took you to–so you just don’t go to one at all. You’ll go to the church you grew up in when you’re home, but you are home less and less often the longer you are in college. Then you graduate, and you get a job somewhere new, and you don’t find a church when you move there because you are completely out of touch with God and being out of touch with His people doesn’t bother you anymore. Somewhere along the why you have a kid, and you remember VBS and Sunday School and you start taking your kids to whichever church has the best Pre-school and Children’s ministry in the area.

However, what you should do is this: go to church the first Sunday you are at school, keep going until you find a place where you can get involved, become a member of that church, and get yourself equipped “for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until [you] attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that [you are] no longer [a child], tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes,” (Ephesians 4:12-14, ESV).

I suggest you start with a church of the same denomination you grew up in, but don’t be afraid to visit a church of another denomination or a non-denominational one. Find a congregation where the Bible is taught faithfully, where there are older people to mentor you, and where there are younger people for you to help out as well. Don’t use some mid-week student Bible Study as a substitute for a real church. Student ministries are great, but the Body of Christ is broader than the 18-25 year-old age bracket, and you need cross-generational relationships for your benefit and theirs.

Some of you are terrified by this whole idea. The rest of you know someone who would be terrified by it. It’s funny how the people who cry “foul” when someone suggests that church membership means that you have a responsibility to be involved, ought to give generously, and will be held accountable for how you live your life, are the same people who think that it is some form of spiritual treason for people to move their church membership from where they grew up to where they are now. That’s the worst kind of hypocrisy. Either church membership means something to you and you’ll be an integral part of a local church wherever you are, or it means nothing to you and it shouldn’t bother you when people leave a church they once were part of to join another one where they live.

Regardless of what you think, church membership matters to God. The Bible clearly teaches that members of a local church are like members of a body. An organ cut-off starts to rot pretty quickly, but an organ transplanted can live and add life to a new body. Would you rather see your college students live and grow in another church, or rot because they are cut off from the life of their childhood church?

June 15, 2010

Recentish Stuff

Filed under: Baby,Ministry,My Life in General,New Home,Youth Ministry — pecaspers @ 7:41 AM

Well, I just looked back at my last post.  It hasn’t been THAT long, but much transitioning has occurred.  We have moved.  We’re not totally “moved in” yet, but it’s even more livable than it was when we bought it.

In the bedroom, we’ve painted, laid new carpet, moved our bedroom furniture into the room,  and hung some semi-shwanky curtains (TJ Max: $7 each=deal).  We even busted out a comforter that’s been unopened since our wedding (two years, for those keeping count).

We’ve got the “great room” (our living room/dining room combo), more or less like we like it.  There’s still a bunch of extra stuff in it, but the main furniture and makeshift entertainment center (actually a coffee table and end table combo) are where they are staying for the foreseeable future.  We haven’t painted the great room yet, that’s a big task that will include much sanding, painting not only the walls but the ceiling as well (perhaps even untexturizing [a pox on you squiggly line, that should totally be a word] the ceiling…somebody got a little overzealous with the plaster up in here), installing new baseboards, and will likely serve as the best chance to put a major cleaning on our fabulous parquet floor.  We did find an AMAZING 8’x12′ rug at the Wetumpka Lowes for under $70; that’s a crazy-go-nuts deal on that much quality floor covering for those of you who haven’t been rug shopping in a while (I think it was originally priced at around $160).  It was nice to find it there too because we were actually there on our second trip looking at carpet for the bedroom, but the “while supplies last” had run out of the clearance priced stuff we were interested in just like it had on our first trip.  (Note:  While I was typing above, my cat tried to puke on our nice rug.  I was able to get him to the parquet, but not all the way to the kitchen tile.)

The bathrooms are serviceable, but not much more.  The kitchen is as it will be for quite a while, with the exception of the refrigerator still not fitting under the cabinets yet.  I might get on that next week…maybe.   The new washer and dryer are in (THANKS Papa and Nana!!!), but I need to hang Jessica’s requested shelf over them.   The nursery is still somewhat filled with random stuff, much of which needs to go to my study.  My study is not yet fully functional, which explains 1) why I still have stuff in the nursery, and 2) why I’m sitting in a recliner in the living room posting this and not at my desk.

I’ve mowed the lawn 1.9 times.  The first time it took me 6 hours solid, and that is not counting time for lunch and water breaks.  That included chopping  through between 5 and 15 feet of kudzu around 3/4 of the perimeter of the yard.  The second time, yesterday, I pushed myself to the verge of heat stroke, but had the good sense to stop.  Note for the future: Don’t mow your massive yard all at once when it’s 98 degrees outside.  I’d like to have finished it this morning, but Jess and I are headed to Auburn in just over an hour, and I’ve got stuff to get ready before we go…so it’s not likely to happen today.

We sold The Container (that’s our old trailer).  In fact, we had a buyer the night before we closed on the house (I think I’m remembering that right), and they moved it out the following Tuesday (it rained on Monday).  PTL!

We survived  Vacation Bible School 2010.  Jessica taught the “pre-K and kindergarten” class, which included a range in ages from an old-2 to a young 7.  They averaged around 14 each night, I think.  I taught the youth, obviously.  We had either 6 or 7 most nights.  That’s not counting the 7 who were helpers in other classes.  There might be a VBS recap post coming soon…or not, we’ll see.  For now, we’re capping off our BBQ chicken fundraiser on Friday, looking forward to Student Life @ Orange Beach, and then to the Alabama Baptist Convention’s Youth Evangelism Conference.  I hope little Paul Fitzgerald Caspers (not a final choice, just seeing how it looks in print) stays in his mommy’s belly through all the stress and excitement.

Jessica is always in transition.  One moment she’s excited, the next she’s anxious, the next she’s crying because she thinks I’m mad at her because she’s anxious, then she’s just tired and/or hungry.  Speaking of hungry, I am.  This is where we’ll stop for today.

April 28, 2010

The Obligatory “I Haven’t Posted in a While” Post

Filed under: Baby,Ministry,My Life in General,New Home,Youth Ministry — pecaspers @ 10:01 AM

Yeah.  It’s been a long time since I posted.  But remember, the title of this blog is “a Blog in transition.” Life in transition doesn’t always allow for consistent posting. At least I’m not a missionary in Africa or elsewhere having amazing adventures but refusing to keep my stateside friends in the loop (You know who you are :P).  If I were awesome, I’d go back and see what the last thing I posted was and fill you in on what you missed.  However, I’m pretty sure that if you’re reading this, then you are also keeping tabs on me via facebook or even in real life.

We’re about to move.  About 85% of the stuff from our current home is in boxes and/or in an Extra-Space Storage unit (give them my name, and I’ll split my bonus for recommending you).  We’re movin’ out.  Like the Billy Joel song, not to be confused with “Movin’ on Up” from the Jeffersons.  We are planning to close on Friday.  So there’s a transition for you.

We’re also having a baby.  I think most all of you know about that.  You can read more about it at babycaspers.blogspot.com. Jessica is about three and a half months from popping. It’s a crazy time. So there is another transition for you.

We’re working on an number of…um…things to be done in addition to the things that have always been done at Liberty Baptist Church.  I didn’t say “changes”.  I also didn’t say “I” was the one working on them.  “We” are trying to implement some different (if you’ll permit that word) stuff into the stuff that Liberty does well.  Of course, my ultimate goal is to get the sanctuary painted a flat theater black, hang lighting and speaker racks, sing songs exclusively written in the current year, switch to “small groups” instead of Sunday School, make everybody use The Message, and drive all the gray haired country folk away.  (THAT is, of course, sarcasm.)  Mostly, we’re just working on having more ways to bring people into the life of the church, i.e. additional classes, outreach events, service projects, etc.  So there’s some more transition.

We are about to dive into summer ministry activities.  We’ve got a pool party, VBS (the youth portion I am solely responsible for planning), Student Life Camp @ Orange Beach, the Youth Evangelism Conference in B’ham, and a big UBC (that’s United Between Churches, an area wide interdenominational youth ministry) event toward the start of the next school year.  So there’s a nice long chain of transitions to come.

I’m looking forward to it all.  Mostly, I’m looking forward to having a study in my home.  I’m convinced that having a place set aside for me to put my laptop, a nice chair to sit in, a quiet place where the TV won’t be on unless I want it on,  will help me stay in the habit of writing on here.  It’ll also help with daily prayer and bible study.  No, I’m not saying that having a study makes a person more disciplined.  In fact, I’m saying just the opposite.  I hope, since I’m not disciplined enough, having a dedicated space will keep me from being so easily distracted.  Hey look, something shiny!

What was I saying?  Oh well, this has been a good obligatory “I haven’t posted in a while” post.  Pray (if that’s something you do) that Jessica and I will have a smooth transition to our new home, our new town, and a new pattern of life.

P.S. – If you know anyone looking for a cheap mobile home, I’ve got one I NEED to sell.

P.P.S. – You should totally go to ChristianAudio.com and pick up Jonathan Acuff’s audio version of Stuff Christians Like, and then start reading his blog Stuff Christians Like. It’s delightful.

January 14, 2010

Speaking of transitions…

Filed under: Baby,Ministry,My Life in General,New Home,Youth Ministry — pecaspers @ 1:32 PM
Tags: , ,

Much has happened since my last post.

I’ve really started to settle into my role as Youth Pastor. We’ve successfully had non-disastrous results at a few different events. In late December, my wife and I loaded the church van with 5 youth (4 girls, 1 guy) and went to Connect 2009 in Pigeon Forge, TN. The speakers were great; the musicians were excellent; our youth behaved predominantly well; good-times were had by all. This was a wonderful and wonderfully inexpensive youth conference, and it would have been worth it at twice the price. We’ve already got some stuff planned for the coming months and are working on getting things lined up for spring (especially Spring Break) and summer as well. I’ve also been given the opportunity to preach 3 times. The first two times went very well. I felt less than positive about my delivery of this most recent sermon after having only a few days (two of which I was also working taking graduation pictures) of lead time since Pastor David came down with bronchitis. Nevertheless, a number of people said they got a lot out of it, so I guess God is still in the business of using what we might reject as worthless for his grand purposes.

Jessica and I have been in the process of trying to buy a home in East Tallassee for months. We found the 2008-model, double-wide, manufactured home sitting on an acre of land which we are trying to purchase back in September, I think. We liked it when the Realtor showed it to us, and it was in far better condition and gave far more square feet per dollar than any of the houses we looked at. However, at that time, we didn’t think we could pull together the money to make it a reality. In November, things were looking better for us. Long story shortened: two potential buyers had fallen through and the home was still available. We paid our earnest money and started trying to get a loan. The first loan company wasted our time and got bought by another bank which wasn’t going to handle mobile home loans. One good thing our loan officer DID do for us was find us someone else who could help us. Our new loan agent is doing her best, but having more than a year between graduating from seminary and going on staff at Liberty is causing us all sorts of problems. On top of all the usual financial info they need (bank statements, tax records, etc.), we have now also supplied them with: a letter from Lakeview Baptist Church saying I’ve still been working (both paid and volunteer) with them since graduating; a letter from Liberty basically saying that I’m going to keep my job there; a letter each from me and Jessica explaining our recent work histories; a simple listing of each of my and Jessica’s recent work and education histories; an additional bank statement showing the check for our earnest money leaving our account; pictures/scanned copies of Jessica’s Auburn diploma, my Auburn diploma, my Southern Seminary diploma, and my certificate of ordination. At one point, we thought every time we got a call from this company we’d be hearing either a “yea” or “nay” on our loan. Now, we are just expecting to be asked for one more random thing. So we’re frustrated with this whole process. Still, I know that God has a reason for the delay. If nothing else, it has kept us from having to pay lot rent on our current home on top of a mortgage payment on our new one.

Another change, I’ve gotten a new car. Well, it’s new to me at least. Jessica’s mom got a for-real-new Hyundai Santa Fé, and they gave me her 1999 Toyota Solara. I’m totally grateful and thoroughly enjoy driving it. We were able to sell my 1992 GMC Jimmy for a whopping $800. I miss the Jimmy, but it made much more since to sell it than to keep it and have it rot from disuse and keep paying insurance on it.

I’ve saved the biggest change of all for last. We’re having a baby! Read more about it at babycaspers.blogspot.com. (WordPress faithful don’t hate. Jessica had it set up on Blogspot before I could stop her.) We go for her first official ultrasound tomorrow. I say official because one of the nurses at the women’s clinic where Jessica volunteers did one just for kicks and giggles last week. So yes, as Jessica said, I’m now part of “The Daddy Team.”

And the changes just keep on coming. Now if we can only find a buyer for this container we live in now.

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