Friday, March 24, 2006

The Father's Heart

In celebration of Christian Challenge's 30th anniversary we put on a drama entitled "The Father's Heart (written by Debi Stodolka of King's Players in Canada). It was a lot of work, a lot of practices, a lot of time, planning, and even some sweat and tears (although I hope there wasn't any blood!). The drama went off very well and was well received. In fact, we are going to present it again this Sunday night at 6:00 at First Assembly of God here in Pineville.

There are a couple of things I want to point out about the drama. First is the message of the drama. The whole thing is about what may have gone on in Heaven while Jesus was on earth. It shows the perplexity of the angels as they ask where Jesus is, their enjoyment of His life and ministry and their confusion about the cruxifiction as well as their intense desire to rescue Him from the cross. There are several great monologues by the Father and one particularly jumps out to me. He explains to the angels that the only thing that will satisfy the just demands of His holy character while at the same time demonstrate His love and mercy is the CROSS. There is no other way to achieve both purposes. This is a powerful monologue that coupled with the angels' horrified response to the cross shows what a powerful price was paid for our sins.

The other thing I wanted to point out is how something like this could NEVER happen without a team approach and without so many people willing to work "in the dark", in the background, backstage, unseen, unnoticed, unrecognized. There are 5 major characters on stage (and about a dozen little angels that get a lot of attention in their brief appearances) but who notices the soundman in the back, the lighting operator up in the balcony or the special effects technician seated in darkness? And how about the ladies who spent countless hours making the costumes and seweing the curtains for the backdrops? How about the person who wanted to be in the drama but felt someone else might do a better job at the role and agreed to step aside? To me, these are heroes!

"The Father's Heart" drama was a success in that it touched (and will continue to touch) the hearts of those who saw it. But it was also a success because it changed the lives of those who participated. I know I was deeply impacted by all who participated and by the ultimate story of love ... "greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends." Thank you Jesus for loving me.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Congratulations, Christian Challenge for 30 years!!!

This week marks the 30th anniversary of Christian Challenge, the church in which I grew up Christian Challenge celebrates 30 years of ministry in Central Louisianaand where I am honored to serve as a pastor. The first service CCI ever held was on Tuesday, March 9, 1976 (coincidentially my sister's 2nd birthday). CCI was initially started by my father, Lawrence "Buddy" Martin, as a "School for Christian Workers" He was still pastoring another church at the time and felt there was a need for a place for Christians to get more in depth training in preparation for ministry without having to move off to go to Bible School. The "church" grew up around the School and now they work hand in hand.

Christian Challenge started in Boyce, Louisiana and was there for a couple of years before making the trek down Hwy 1 to Pineville. For eight years we met in the "old Rent It Company building" at the intersection of Hwy 28E and Pineville's Cottingham Expressway. Then four more years in the Pine Plaza Shopping Center as our current facilities were being built. (The current building took about four years to build because the members of the church built it themselves and they paid cash as they went so when they moved in, it was completely paid for.)

I moved home from Mexico in November of 1990, the same year we occupied the building. (It still wasn't finished ... they were meeting in the Fellowship Hall and then moved into the unfinished sanctuary with concrete floors and a plywood platform!) I joined the staff as Associate Pastor and have been honored to serve alongside my father.

I'm grateful for this weekend. 30 years is a long time and it's a testimony to both the blessing of the Lord and the faithfulness of Bro. Buddy and Sis. Betty (or, "Mom and Dad) over all these years. I want to honor them for their tenacity and determination in sticking it out in the tough times. We are moving into wonderful times ahead but we can never forget the foundations that were laid and the price that was paid. Thanks, Mom and Dad, for being such wonderful examples of those who faithfully discharge a stewardship from God. May we all be found so faithful.


Monday, March 06, 2006

When the Police say stop .....

Our local police department has recently been armed with a number of X-26 Tasers from Taser International. This new weapon will allow Pineville police officers to potentially "take down" a suspect without having to shoot him. This provides a level of protection for the officer because he doesn't have to get in close contact to use his baton or pepper spray. This also is safer for the suspect because being shot with a real gun is no fun.

In order to be "checked out" on the X-26 Pineville's officers had to be shocked themselves so they would know what it is they're putting someone through and won't use it lightly. Somehow the suggestion was made that City Councilpersons might want to "experience" the Taser first hand. Since I went through the "burning house" scenario with the fire department, fully suited, wearing oxygen, etc, as a way of showing support for the fire department, I felt I should demonstrate my support for the police department as well. So I volunteered.

Nothing can prepare you for the sensation of being hit with 50,000 volts of electricity. I'll admit I was scared. But when it hit, as you can see in the photo, all I could do was scream! Actually, I thought I was screaming but the people around me said no sound came out. Every muscle in my body tensed up for the duration of the charge and I could do nothing but wait until they stopped pulling the trigger. When it was over, I almost collapsed (and would have if it hadn't been for the fine officers holding me up). I felt like I had run a marathon. Every muscle in my body was sore. In fact, for over a week afterwards my back ached and even now, a couple of weeks later, I feel a twinge when I write this (and when I see the picture).

So, what is my advice to anyone confronting a Taser? Do what the man says!!! If the police tell you to stop ... STOP!!!


P.S. I know it's hard to find anything spiritual out of that post. Perhaps it's simply to thank God for His mercy and grace, that He doesn't use a Taser on us!!! :)