Why I Write These:
This is an initiative I started in 2018 to begin documenting my life better. It’s meant to be a snapshot of a day both for public disclosure of what is going on, both good and hard things in my life. It also serves as a record that I hope to be able to look back on in future years. This concept was inspired by my grandfather, Leon Milton Buttermore, who has a memory that I am envious of, and I hope that by doing this I am able to be the kind of man who starts to treasure the things given him.
Today was a fun day of fellowship! Got to church a bit early to help plan out an event for the month of February for our ABF. Ellen Burns and Lydia Sietsema were helping to start coordinating that. I think we landed on going to the circus on the 20th, so that should be fun!
Also saw Gerald Drymond there. He was there pretty early. He works the graveyard shift at his job, and so I think he just comes straight from work. We talked about sleep patterns. I think we both could use some more of the Lord’s work in our lives to order our sleep lives.
After that, people started showing up and we prayed and started ABF. We were going over John 21:1-23. I think my favorite thought today was how comforting it was that Jesus told Peter that he would die.
We don’t tend to think of suffering well in America. It’s the most anti-American thing I can think of, and yet it is literally everywhere in the Bible. You can’t escape the fact that this is what we are called to.
So what a comfort it is for Jesus to tell Peter that he would die. Chaz Miller had a great point that Peter might have been doubting his own affirmation of his desire to follow Christ. He had said he would follow him earlier, but then abandoned him. This leads to him saying, “Lord, you know all things. You know that I love you.” He’s not sure of himself. Then Jesus steps in and assures him that this time he’ll be faithful to follow him unto death. What a comfort for Peter to know that he would no longer abandon the Lord for the sake of comfort and ease. May we take comfort in our sufferings, Lord. When we suffer only because we have been faithful to you, it is the very assurance and comfort that the Gospel truly resides within our hearts.
After that, we went into the sanctuary for main service. I’m trying to sit in different areas and so today sat a bit further back by Shelby Watkins and his family. I’m going to hop around a bit and see if I can put more names to faces from the Directory. Brad brought it today. He preached Amos 7-9:10, and, man! It was good!
There’s so many good points he had, I probably can’t recall them all. But the one thing I’ll never forget is the famine of God’s word in Amos 8:11-13. Not a famine of thirst and bread, but a famine of the word of God. Men stagger around drunk and searching for a just a taste of God’s word to survive another day, but they cannot find it. Oh, how sad. Brad phrased it so well when he said we need to cherish our Bibles and the pastors God equips to speak to us, and out of this we should long for every chance to sit under the word of God. He said it along these lines:
“The Israelites would die to trade places with you. In fact, they were dying because they couldn’t trade places with you.”
That is solid right there. So when I wake up in the morning, sure I can maybe go the bathroom if it is pressing. Or make myself a quick cup of chocolate milk or something. But my overall direction has to be to get to the word of God, and not to check my phone, the news, etc. I should be desperate to reach for God’s word. After all, God has taken His word away from a group of people and they have fallen into death because of it. It is the worst thing we can let happen. Lord, let me never find your word dull, stale, or uninspiring. Let me cling to it like a lifeline! Protect me from a hard heart, God.
After I left church, I texted and helped try to follow up with a few people who were absent from ABF. I’m trying to do a better job of organizing and tracking who is and isn’t attending. I never want someone to fail to show up because they feel they are unloved and not missed if they don’t come. So we (right now mostly just me, but our leadership for ABF is slowly starting to use it) have built an independent tracking sheet to keep track of who is there and who is not.
After that, I went home and did some reading on Going Public to finish that book. The ending had a few minor disagreements that I quibbled with, but overall he gave some practical advice on how churches that have taken credobaptist confessions out of their statement of faith might advance, as well as covering how churches that currently practice open membership might be able to start tightening up their doctrine to more clearly define who is part of the church. A good book overall, and I will heartily recommend it to anyone who has never really sat down and thought about baptism’s role in defining the visible church that we can see and experience.
After that, I almost took a nap but decided I didn’t want to just take a lame snack to church. So I started looking up some snack ideas and really liked a few of them, but they took multiple hours, if not most of a day (if they needed to be chilled as snacks first) to complete. So I instead just made pretzels dipped in chocolate. I admit that I was really nervous about this. I’m terrible in the kitchen, but ended up having a really good time and they turned out really great. They were easy as well. And they all got eaten, which makes me think that it was an instant hit!
Speaking of the eating, I went to a huge church party for the Super Bowl. It was great! Lots of college students and such that were present as well as multiple Life Groups coming together to take fellowship over this event. Super fun!
I ended up hardly watching the game, to be honest. There’s too many fun conversations with different people to have. I felt like a socialite making their way around a ballroom trying to see all the people there were to see. It’s not that I don’t love the commercials and the food and the football game. I just find people’s lives and topics of life and spirituality so much more engaging to take part in.
Terry Irwin and I had a good conversation about Prevenient Grace vs. Irresistible Grace as doctrine and how that practically plays out in the life of a church and what the texts that help support them vs. what does not support them are. I try to give a doctrine (Prevenient Grace) that I don’t support the benefit of the doubt, and find that I can wrap my head around it well enough with some texts that I can empathize strongly with that understanding of the Bible. However, those texts are both poorly contextualized in reading them that way and don’t seem to match up well with the vast majority of passages that speak on God’s grace. So I think we have to be very careful with how we talk about them. I’m still trying to figure out how I might try to persuade someone on one doctrinal stance vs. the other.
Anyways, after that I had a quick argument about Cane’s chicken (which was what was catered) vs. Slim’s. I couldn’t let that go by me. It’s too near and dear my heart. So as you can see, I had very important conversations. Irresistible Grace and Slim’s. Two topics we must all accept into our own lives! =D
Overall, a fairly simple day but I’m being fairly concise. I can’t type down every single conversation and thoughts on Sundays without getting incredibly long-winded and, even then, I wouldn’t do them justice trying to recall them perfectly.
It was a bit of blustery day today, but it was so good. I am incredibly thankful for the fact that I have a church body that I can gather together with. I know too many churches where people just come only to consume the Gospel and then move on with their lives. But I have such great friends and pastors that poor into my life and leave my heart and mind transformed by the word of God. It’s an amazing experience and I wouldn’t be nearly the same person without it.
Oh! I saw Mr. and Mrs. Hembree at UBC this morning! They are the father of Lawson and Chris. I played ultimate with both of them and lived in the same townhouse as Chris at one point. They are looking for a better church and struggling to find one in Forth Smith that seems to be healthy and pushing them to strive towards Christ more. That’s so sad to hear. I don’t think they’re the overly picky type of people who just leave churches without cause. Perhaps I’m wrong, but if they’re leaving Fort Smith to look for churches, that’s a situation to pray for then. I hope that whether they come to UBC or they find a church in Fort Smith to contribute to, they find themselves drawn nearer to Christ because of it.
Regardless, I enjoyed seeing them and was thrilled to run into old friends, or the parents of old friends at least.
Man, Amos is a good book. That’s a total non sequitur thought. But I can’t help but see how those who presume upon God’s good grace find themselves at odds with God’s grace and favor. We never presume upon God’s grace. We can trust and believe in it. But if we think we get a free pass because of it. If we think there is nothing we can do that angers and incites God’s wrath towards us, then beware that you may be the very person who his anger and wrath falls most towards. Oh, Lord, let me not be a blind man. Let me not be a deaf man. Give me eyes to see and ears to hear so that I may never presume upon your grace, but seek after it like a thirsty man drawn to streams of living water. Let me fall into those streams of grace where I thirst upon your word as if a man about to die of a parched throat. Your word, your grace, and even your justice are beautiful. You are a God I can lean on and trust, and let my life be ordered to prove that my faith actually resides in your character.