The Christmas season is here. Thanks are due to the host of volunteers that decorated the church this week. It is no small task getting the decorations up. And if you think that is tough you should be on the team taking them down. The place looks great. We will have some wonderful days of worship and special events to end 2007. Check the churches website www.olivebaptist.org for a listing of the holiday happenings.
Missions always take center stage this time of year. Giving is important to both the Olive budget and our missions offering. You can use your regular tithing envelope to give to both. We are indeed living on a mission field. Last Thursday I spent two hours walking around our church campus praying and seeking God’s direction for the future of Olive. It was Thanksgiving morning and “…not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.”
As I walked, I discovered a parable. As one exits our property to the north, you step off the campus onto a lot with four trailers. One family has five children who need shoes and other basic needs. We have begun ministering to them the past few days as several folks have offered to assist with this specific family’s needs. This family is just one step off of our church campus.
If you walk off the campus on the University Parkway side, you step into the parking lot of the new Starbucks. There you find $4 coffee and people who have all the shoes they need. Think about it. On one side of Olive is poverty and on the other side affluence. We sit between them with GOOD NEWS for both.
Missions is also about going. As you read this, I am on the way to Romania. On Sunday I will preach to 3,000 people at Emmanuel Baptist Church. It is an evangelistic service in which more than 70 people are going to be baptized. They will have many lost family members and friends with them. Pray for me as I preach and join me in asking God to draw the net. Later in the week, I will be teaching on the subject of preaching to master’s level students at the Emmanuel University in the city of Oradea.
Indeed, Christmas is about going with the Gospel across the street and around the world. It is about being on mission in any environment.
Join the Olive family this Sunday in the beautifully decorated worship center. Dr. Ed Stetzer will be our preacher. He is a missiologist with LifeWay. Regarding missions, I can promise you that this Sunday your Christmas will get off on the right foot.
Pastor Ted Traylor
In 3 John, the Apostle begins his writing with a prayer. He says, “Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.” He is asking God to allow Gaius to be as healthy and wealthy as his soul is prosperous. Think about it. What if your checkbook and doctor’s report were based on the evaluation of your soul. I admit I would have seasons where I would be in bankruptcy court and intensive care! John is telling us to take care of our soul. “Watch over your heart…” is the way Proverbs says it. Be certain you are in good shape when it comes to spiritual things as well as in your walk with Jesus.
Now on the other side of the coin we should also watch after our physical well being. Here are some items to think about.
1. DIET ~ It is most important that we watch what comes out of our mouth. But it is also imperative we be mindful of what goes in it. Do some study and make sure your diet is the best for you. The holiday season is a time we can become gluttons if not careful.
2. EXERCISE ~ I am hot as I write this today. My treadmill is still cooling off following my morning walk. Make sure you get the needed exercise for a person your age. The ROC workout room is provided to help you to stay in shape. Or you may prefer another venue. Keep stretching and walking.
3. DOCTOR ~ All of us need to have a physical from time to time. And if you are over 50 the colonoscopy is a must. Best afternoon of sleep you will ever get!
4. FLU SHOT ~ Not everyone believes in this one. My grandmother would never take one. A few years ago my doctor suggested I get a flu shot every year. Being around as many people as I am it is a good practice to take precaution. If you have not had yours you can get one Wednesday from 4:30- 6:00 p.m. in the ROC at Olive.
Our bodies are not made to last forever. Thank God we will get a new design one day – fit for eternity. Until then I encourage you to take care of the one you have. We all have friends and family with physical challenges and sometimes those illnesses come upon us.
We tend to pray the most about physical needs. Today I ask you to join me in praying for my good friend Dr. Keith Thomas. He is pastor of the Cottage Hill Baptist Church in Mobile. He received a diagnosis of cancer on Monday. I ask you to pray for his healing.
To end today’s blog, I want to share with you a message I received from one of our members, Martha Raley, who served this year as Olive’s coordinator of Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child Shoe Box Collection:
The final count for our shoe box collection is 1,662 shoe boxes collected from Olive Baptist members with a total of 14,020 shoe boxes collected here at Olive’s collection center.
Thanks to all who helped to make this a wonderful collection year for the children of the world.
Collection Center Coordinator
I want to add my thanks to all who made this happen; our OCC volunteers, our OBC housekeeping and maintenance personnel, and all those who packed a shoe box that quite possibly will make an eternal impact one child at a time.
Pastor Ted Traylor
We had a very quiet and relaxing Thanksgiving Day at our home. In the past we have had a house full of people. This year it was just Liz, Rachel, Bennett and myself. Christmas will be our big family gathering affair at our home. During the meal we discussed what we were thankful for this year. With everyone at the table over 21 it was an adult conversation. Our conclusion is that God had favored the Traylor family. We are a grateful group.
In today’s Pensacola News Journal two men wrote letters to the editor denying the existence of God. The first gentleman wrote that atheists are just as moral as those who believe in God. No one denies that – we are all sinners. The next writer was condemning the Governor of Georgia for calling a prayer meeting about the need for rain. The atheistic meteorologist said it would rain when it rains. He suggests the Governor was just after votes from Christians.
We live in a land that has freedom of speech. These two men have used theirs. This Sunday we will meet at Olive and use ours. On the weekend of Thanksgiving it will be good to be in church to thank God for His blessings – which do include rain.
Last night we were discussing Christmas presents for family members. One item that was mentioned I was told would be on sale Friday morning at less than half price. Then the challenge was laid out before me to join the 6 a.m. crowd and see if I could secure the item on Black Friday. I love competition! By 6:44 a.m. I had the box in the trunk. I also got to visit with several Olive members who were out early on the big shopping day. It was fun. I am now home and it is time for a nap!
Pastor Ted Traylor
Thanksgiving Day is just 48 hours away. This day of gratitude is a day of feasting. Families will meet together around tables overflowing with food. Turkey, ham, dressing and a horn-of-plenty of other items will fill our tables. It is a good day. This is a time to feast in America. Gather your family around you and enjoy. Remember to be thankful to the Father whose hand provides all good things. Tonight at 6:00 p.m. we will meet in Passmore Hall and give praise to God for His goodness.
On Monday, a fine layman came to my office. He is a businessman in Pensacola and attends a wonderful Christian church in our area. He has a burden on his heart for revival in Pensacola. He is asking all who will to join him in 40 Days of Prayer and Fasting. The time period for this effort is January 21-February 29, 2008. I have told him Olive will be a part. You can learn more at www.prayforpensacola.com. The website has some great information on it.
There is a time for feasting. That comes this Thursday. There is a time for fasting. It can be anytime; but 40 days early next year is a good time to join with others in this discipline.
HAPPY THANSGIVING! LORD JESUS, SEND REVIVAL!
Pastor Ted Traylor
I am frequently asked what books I am reading. Today I want to recommend two volumes to you. The first one is a new book. It is available in our media library and in Christian bookstores. The Grand Weaver is a wonderful work by Ravi Zacharias. It is worth the price just to get the appendix where Ravi answers 25 questions he is often asked. In the book he explains how God shapes us through the events of our lives.
Ravi quotes Susanna Wesley (1669-1742), the mother of preachers John and Charles, on the subject of sin. When John asked her to define sin she replied, “Son, whatever weakens your reasoning, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God or takes away your relish for spiritual things; in short, if anything increases the authority and power of the flesh over the spirit, then that to you becomes sin, however good it is in itself.” If we all took these wise words to heart, we might see revival in our day. God, grant it.
The second book is 46 years old. In 1961 Major Ian Thomas wrote The Saving Life of Christ. You can order it online or find it, as I did this week, at the Gospel Lighthouse. (They have two more yellowed copies on the shelf.) Thomas tells his story and then outlines the biblical principle of the life of Christ in you. The second chapter alone is worth far more than the small price one will pay for this classic paperback.
These two books will help you along the journey of faith.
Be a reader. Better yet, be a reader of good-quality books. And always remember the greatest book ever written, God’s Word, is a must read for every day of our lives.
Pastor Ted Traylor
Monday was a great day at the Southern Baptist of Texas Convention. It was my honor to be one of the speakers at the Pastors’ Conference. There are actually two separate state Southern Baptist conventions in Texas. The SBTC is the recognized fundamentalist state organization and serves alongside our national SBC.
This morning I have the privilege of speaking in the chapel service at The Criswell College located in the heart of downtown Dallas. This college was founded in 1971 by Dr. W.A. Criswell, one of my heroes in the faith. Before his death in 2002, he was faithful for more than 75 years in preaching the Gospel. Through his ministry and writings, literally thousands have been impacted for Christ.
Last Sunday we celebrated Veteran’s Day. However, I was disappointed in myself for failing to properly recognize our veterans in our 9:30 a.m. service. Therefore, I am planning to recognize these special men and women this Sunday, November 18. We are all grateful for the service and sacrifice our veterans and active duty personnel have made to insure the freedoms we all share as Americans.
We are off to a great start with our Operation Christmas Child Shoe Box collection. You can drop them off at Olive each day between 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday, November 19 is the last day. Keep them coming!
Pastor Ted Traylor
We are approaching the time at Olive when we select new deacons. After a screening process, the names of these men are presented to the church for selection. Once this new group is in place I will have some time with them. One of the illustrations I always use is one that deacon, Steve Harrod, used in a committee meeting earlier this week. I always tell leaders they carry a bucket in each hand. One is filled with water and the other is filled with gasoline. Churches and other Christian organizations have two types of fire that break out from time to time. One is a dreadful fire fueled with criticism, strife and discord. When such a fire breaks out each leader has a choice to make – will I use water or gas?
Oh, but praise God, in our church we also have outbreaks of revival fires that bring rebirth and restoration and a rekindling of passion for the Gospel. And again each deacon must make a choice – will I use water or gas?
This illustration is not only applicable to deacons but for every church member as well. It is also relevant in Southern Baptist life. The world watches us as we do our business as believers. When they see strife and division they walk away. When they see the blaze of compassion and truth they stop to consider us.
Next time you see fires of trouble in your church check for H2O. Look for ways to be a peacemaker without compromise. And when you see revival fires flare up get out the gas. I know it is over $3 a gallon but it is worth the price if the church is aglow with victory in Jesus’ name.
Pastor Ted Traylor
Much is said about the low number of baptisms we see each year in the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention. Year after year our annual church reports show that as a denomination we are not making progress in reaching the lost. Olive is among those churches that must do better. One category that concerns us all is the drop in the number of teenagers baptized in our churches. This should be a field ripe unto harvest. However, to reach teens one must get out among them. Relationships are key – and key relationships are those teens have with adults. Teens do reach teens but the most significant influencers are mature Christians being “rightly-related” to these students.
At Olive we have an ongoing ministry to teenagers. Through this ministry, we offer some really special events. We have a couple coming up this month. On Saturday, November 10 from 4-8 p.m. there will be the premier showing of the surfing movie, Walking on Water. This event will be held at Seville Square Park. Even though this is not directly an Olive project, several of our leaders are strategically involved. This fun evening will be evangelistic and potentially life-changing. Encourage those who love surfboards to give this a look.
The regular high school football season is quickly coming to an end. On Friday, November 16 from 7 p.m. until midnight Olive is hosting “Friday Night Hype.” Students from all local middle schools and high schools are invited to attend. There will be field goal contests and giveaways as well as a strong Gospel presentation. Encourage students to come and hang out before, during or after the games that night.
If you are an adult, I have a challenge for you. Look around your neighborhood. Find a student who needs to know Christ. Then prayerfully consider making a new young friend. Don’t condemn hairstyles, clothes, driving patterns or skateboarding. Just make a friend. Every teenager needs at least one!
Pastor Ted Traylor
On Thursday I had the joy of being with over 200 Alabama Baptist pastors in a “Called to Communicate Conference.” We spent the day learning to be better communicators. Along with Dr. David Platt and Dr. Bobby Welch, I had the honor of speaking that day. I was greatly encouraged by what I heard from young and old alike.
Last night Liz spoke at FBC Eufaula at a ladies conference. Today we are spending a fun day in a beautiful lake home on Lake Eufaula provided for us by some dear friends.
Don’t forget to set your clocks back one hour before going to bed Saturday night.
I am looking forward to this Sunday. It will mark my 17th anniversary as your pastor. I will be preaching from Isaiah 41. Through this passage God spoke to my heart in the summer of 1990 as I was praying about becoming the pastor at Olive. During those months, the Spirit of the Living God pressed home to me many distinct promises. Several of them have become reality. Others I can see unfolding and still some are yet to come. As we begin year 18 together, we still have much to do.Our days ahead remind me of a poem I heard so often spoken by Dr. Stephen Olford:
Only one life
Will soon be past.
Only what’s done for Christ
Pastor Ted Traylor