Thursday, May 31, 2012

Parables Summer Series

Lord willing, here are some of the parables we'll be studying this summer:
  • The Rich Man and Lazarus | Luke 16:19-21 
  • The Wheat and the Tares | Matthew 13:24-30; 36-43 
  • The Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin | Luke 15:1-10 
  • The Manipulative Manager | Luke 16:1-13 
  • The Pharisee & the Publican | Luke 19:9-14 
  • The Rich Fool | Luke 12:13-21 
  • The Good Samaritan | Luke 10:25-37 
  • The Persistent Friend | Luke 11:5-13 
  • The Unmerciful Servant | Matthew 18:21-35

Friday, May 25, 2012

R.O.C. Goodbye

(Verse 1)

It’s been awhile since I picked up the mic,
I hung it up, locked it up, packed it tight I never sit down to write,
But tonight, the situation if I‘m reading it right,
it might be the right occasion,

(plus its too late to fire me now)
So I picked up my pad (a tad dusty)
And then I checked out the skills (mad rusty)

But it’s enough to get the picture like a silhouette,
And get your parents hair up just like a Chia pet,
I haven’t lasted this long because my stamina’s strong,
Because I should have been gone after the banana song,

But after 2 years I’m here on the list,
So just let me reminisce over the group that I’ll miss,

Wednesday’s we love to preach,
Sundays we love to teach,
We Scatter Out to Reach
Lake Days, Lock outs, Retreats,

We love to be equipped,
Boys and Girls discipleship,
Sign up for mission trips,
We love a strong pulpit

And that’s not it, because the fact is, that many us
love to practice, what we preach in the passages,

When I depart you’ll be missing a part,
Because I’ll always have a little piece of you in my heart.

(Verse 2)
Paul said goodbye to his leaders when he was at Miletus,
And this may not be Miletus but I still have My Leaders,
They lead us well and that’s not a hard sell,
But It wouldn’t fare well if I didn’t share farewell,

Jason and Heather couldn’t lead worship better,
J thanks for filling in for me and leading D-Center,
And Beth Kay we hate to see you go away,
And Paul thanks for all you did for paintball.

When the room wasn’t straight Chad had my back,
Allen at the Boys Club with a new Johnny Mac,
Kestner kept me straight with all my times and dates,
Tim Cain’s encouragement can’t be replaced,

Marky- Mark you share my evangelist heart,
And I was told, Becky was gold right from the start,
I got Kelly Scheideman for laughter,
And Greg I couldn’t find a man that was better for scatter.

I’ll think of K “Mac” every time I hear a duck’s quack,
Erin Hutchins was stunning will you come back?
Clayton and Laurie I’d never trade them in
Even when your voice was out you made it in.

When I need a candle lit I’ll think of Britt in the woods,
And Magnus if I have a picture half as good,
Michael when I cycle pairs of pants in the Washer,
And Frank don’t worry “I won’t call you Sasha”.

Roxy’s ice breaker losing my shoes,
And Tracy had a plan when my Achilles was loose,
Doug E. Fresh was the best at discipleship groups,
And I have Krista Spoon when I want to yell “Moose”.

It seems that I’m asleep with this scene,
How can I be awake when I have the dream team?
Still, I have Jenn with superior skills,
And Mark Claxton We’ll be praying for Jill.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Dear Bible Church Family,

We knew this day would come.  We just didn’t know when, but today with a mixture of sorrow, and joyful anticipation for the future, I am announcing my resignation as the Student Ministries Pastor of The Bible Church of Little Rock.
I never cease to be amazed by the providence of God in my life, and in the life of our family.  The way God sustained me through my training at The Master’s Seminary was obvious.  There were so many clear indications that God was at work.  From the way I was employed, to the way God provided for me when I lost that employment, I tangibly saw God’s confirmation of my decision to move to California.
God also made my call to The Bible Church of Little Rock very clear.  The night before I received the call from the pastoral search committee, God had already piqued my interest in BCLR.  I learned of the opening while searching the seminary’s placement system, and because of my prior introduction to Lance Quinn, I knew that whoever was chosen to serve on staff at BCLR would be immensely blessed.  I just had no idea that person would be me.  The call from the search committee came as a total surprise to me, and God matched my desires and gifting with the opportunity to serve.
This same providence of God has made another decision very clear to me, and I would like to share briefly, what the Lord has been doing in my life these past few months.
Since leaving Maryland, I have been able to maintain a good relationship with Hope Bible Church of Columbia MD, and have visited occasionally. This is the same church that helped support me through seminary, and is where I began my preaching ministry.  During my last visit to HBC, in August of 2011, I was approached by several members, who indicated to me their desire to see a new work started in Baltimore.  One family had recently been involved in inner city ministry, and developed a heart for the people as well as the area.  These same members also indicated to me their desire to support me in a church planting initiative. 
During this same visit, I was also introduced to several families who had been commuting from Baltimore County to attend HBC.  These members had been attending a church in Baltimore where a pastor fell morally, and rather than being asked to step down from leadership, he was encouraged to continue preaching.  These members rightly left the church and began to look for another place to fellowship in the area, but experienced great difficulty in finding a solid church in Baltimore.  As you know Biblically-driven, theologically-sound, spiritually-healthy churches are getting harder to find, especially within our cities.  Many of our urban churches have succumbed to liberalism on the one end, or the word-of-faith movement on the other.  The lights for the gospel have grown dim and are growing dimmer all of the time.

Next, in October of 2011, I was contacted by a TMS graduate who does not have the desire to be a senior pastor, but rather sees his ministry as one of encouragement and support.  He and his wife are originally from New York and both have the desire to move back to the East Coast to be closer to family.  They communicated to me, that they would love to “hold my hands up” in ministry, if it was ever my desire to return to the East Coast to minister.  The idea of church planting with me was an exciting possibility for them, and since our conversation they have been praying in this direction, and are committed to it.

Another important factor has been the desire of Hope Bible Church to see other like-minded churches planted in Maryland.  The leadership has expressed this desire since the founding of the church, and the church is now nearing its 15 year anniversary.  They have experienced a period of growth and stability, and for the first time they are in a position to support a new work.  Not only is the leadership willing to support a church plant with prayer, but they have been eager to support it by sending members and financial support as well.

The formation of Grace Advance is another encouraging component.  The training, counsel and additional support that TMS graduates are able to receive through Grace Advance and Grace Community Church will provide help, which was not present when I graduated.  Grace Advance has also organized a group of like-minded churches in the Mid- Atlantic region, that are excited to welcome graduates into their area. Many of these church leaders have already been meeting and have demonstrated a desire to work together.

I have also been encouraged by the people who know me best and love me most.  My family (including my children), Lance Quinn, Tom Leake (pastor-teacher of HBC), and Todd Murray, have all affirmed my gifting and readiness for church planting.  I have also been encouraged by Tim Senn our Pastor-Teacher and the entire elder board in my pursuit of this work. 

Finally, I have sensed an increased desire to shape the direction of a church and to be engaged more in the ministry of preaching and evangelism.  I have no lack of opportunities in my current position for ministry, but I believe that my strengths can be used more fully in the role of Pastor-Teacher and specifically as Church-Planter.   Planting a church, for me, was not a question of “if” but “when”.  The day after my conversion I was evangelizing at a bus stop, the year after my conversion, I was organizing a Bible study and within 5 years of my conversion, I entered Bible College with the hopes of planting a biblically faithful church.   This idea is not a recent or whimsical development, but has rather been a burden for over a decade. 

Last week at our Missions Conference we sang the words:

“Lord, send me anywhere,
Only go with me.
Lord, I’ll bear any burden,
Only sustain me.
Lord, sever any tie,
Save the tie that binds me to Thy heart,
Lord, send me anywhere,
Only go with me.”

And after much prayer and consultation our family has decided to take a step of faith.  We will be applying for the Grace Advance Academy and will be leaving Little Rock, Arkansas at the end of May 2012.

Until then, I will continue to provide leadership to Student Ministries.  We will obviously have a lot to do to prepare ourselves for this rapid transition, but I am committed to finishing my ministry well at the Bible Church. 

I am pleased to announce that the local SCATTER evangelistic outreach will still happen in July.  The leadership is committed to continue what we began together and we have several people in place to collectively carry the load.

Pastor Tim and I also hope to connect with a number of TMS graduates during the Shepherds’ Conference, to possibly recommend a man to a future search committee, once it is constituted.  We have already made contact with a number of potential candidates that we are excited about.

My decision to leave the Bible Church has been a hard decision, not because I don’t believe it is the right decision, but because of the many relationships that I have made with members of the Bible Church.  I had no idea how hard it would be to say good-bye, and while we still have a number of months together, I am already feeling the sorrow of leaving you.  Please know that we love you, and that our decision in no way reflects discontent with this church body.  When I arrived here, I made my desire to pastor a church clear to Lance and the elder board, so I am not leaving because of a problem with the leadership.

God has already worked out many of the details of our move.  One example is the home we own in Maryland.  The lease is up in May, and the timing could not have been better.  We can pick up from here and move back into our own home. 

God has also been building the excitement for this church plant in ways we could not have imagined.  Just yesterday I received a call from a Baltimore native who I met at the Shepherds’ Conference last year.  He called for the first time yesterday to let me know of the struggle his is having of finding a church in Baltimore.  It is utterly amazing what God is doing, and I pray that you will be able to share in the joy over God’s sovereignty in all of this.

We appreciate your prayers for our family, and will make sure to keep you informed as we move ahead.  You have truly been knitted to our hearts, and we have been made the better because of our time with you. We love you and will make sure to stay in touch and keep you updated.

In Christ Alone,

Pastor George L. Lawson Jr.

Friday, January 13, 2012

You keep talkin’ to yourself; people will think you’re crazy

There is a scene in the Pixar film “Cars” where Lightning McQueen is complaining out loud to himself as he is serving his sentence for ruining the main road through Radiator Springs.  While talking to himself, he passes by a car named Lizzie sitting alone on a porch who says… “You keep talkin’ to yourself; people will think you’re crazy.”  McQueen sarcastically says, “Thanks for the tip!” to which Lizzie replies, “Uh- what?  I wasn’t talking to you!”

“You keep talkin’ to yourself; people will think you’re crazy.”  In some cases that might very well be true.  But is talking to yourself a clear indication of insanity?  The Psalmists didn’t think so.  On several occasions these biblical counselors made an appointment with their own souls.  Here are a few examples…

Psalm 42:5 Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence.

Psalm 103:1-2 Bless the LORD, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits;

Psalm 116:7 Return to your rest, O my soul, For the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.

Psalm 146:1 Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul!

Thomas Vincent, the English Puritan in a similar way counsels his own soul in the book, The True Christian’s Love to the Unseen Christ.   Listen to his words…

“Why do you hang downwards, O my soul?  Why do you bend so much to the earthly things?  What is there here below that is not beneath you and altogether unworthy of your love?  How empty and vain and thorny are these things?  Do not waste your time, weary yourself for every vanity’ do not prick and wound yourself with these things anymore.  What ails you, O my soul that you are so backward to the love of Christ…O my soul are you so drenched in the flesh that visible objects shall have more power to draw down your heart than this most glorious object shall have power to draw up your heart?”
(Thomas Vincent, The True Christian’s Love to the Unseen Christ, p. 77)

Do earthly things have more power to draw your heart down than the most glorious Christ the power to draw your heart up?”  What a powerful and convicting example of self counsel that we would do well to imitate.   Friends, we need to make frequent appointments with our own souls.  How many sins would we avoid if we were resolved to preach the truth to ourselves? “If we judged ourselves rightly, we should not be judged” (1 Cor. 11:31).  

“You keep talkin’ to yourself people may think you’re crazy.”  But sometimes talking to ourselves is the only way to keep their accusation from being true.

In Christ Alone,
Pastor George