Saturday, October 28, 2006

A New Look

Yes, you are at the right place! I am trying out a new template for the site. After all, the 101st post ought to be dsitinctive yes? I thought so too. The old posts did not transfer quites as smoothly as I might have hoped and I deleted a couple fo the old ones to try and make the update work -- but to no avail.

Please check out the website link to the template source. Interesting? Do you like? Drop me a note!

The character on the left just seemed to fit the blog title "the open mike". I get paid to talk! :)


Friday, October 13, 2006

100 blogposts -- Annual Report

Dear Faithful Readers,

This post marks the 100th post at this site, "The Open Mike". That is great news! I am pleased to say that the site has been a boost to my spirits and a great outlet of writing. Thanks for reading. It has taken me some time to discern what post might be the 100th and I have decided to include the annual report that I just wrote for our church annual meeting. This report includes a smattering of tasks that I have accomplished (with God's help of course) this past year. It also gives a challenge to the people of Wyoming that God has allowed me to minister with and to for 5 years now.

May Jesus Christ Be Praised!

Associate Pastor’s Report

As part of the programming offered at the YMCA, Scott took a class in Tae Kwon Do. As I watched the trainees follow the patterns set by their leaders, I became interested in this oriental martial art. From the outset, it seemed that the study was more than a series of kicks and punches; this practice was an action based on an idea or philosophy. Tae Kwon Do is much more than great exercise.

The World Taekwondo Federation describes Taekwondo as “one of the most systematic and scientific Korean traditional martial arts that teaches more than physical fighting skills. It is a discipline that shows ways of enhancing our spirit and life through training our body and mind.” [] As you can see, Taekwondo is not that far afield from the practice of Christianity. Notice these three similarities:

1. A unified mind, body and spirit
Paul called the Corinthians to live the taekwondo lifestyle with these words “Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace.” (2 Cor. 13:11b) To the Colossians he wrote: “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Col. 3:17) We must not only say that we love God, we must show it through our actions; we must not be isolationists but instead be a community bent on living out the principle of unity and peace, with all of our mind, body and spirit.

2. Preparation of a ready defense
We understand fighting an enemy (Eph. 6:12). Paul encouraged believers (then and now) to “put on the full armor of God”, so that you can “stand firm”. There must be a readiness, a stabilized stance and a mental preparation, that characterizes each believer if we are to extinguish the fiery attacks of the adversary. We must guard against attacking those without Christ -- they are not the enemy. Satan is our enemy! We need to defend those who are trapped in the life of defeat and train them in the way of survival!

3. Harmonious growth and improvement of life
We make no bones about this goal for all believers at Wyoming Baptist. The purpose of this local church is to fulfill the Great Commission. Therefore, all of our activities are to be done for the expressed purpose of “making disciples”. Discipleship is the life of harmonious growth and improvement. It is the life of taking up our cross daily, denying ourselves and following Christ, our ultimate teacher/trainer (Luke 14:27). We must count the cost of such a pursuit! We must be determined that the resulting growth and improvement is totally worth any effort along the way. We must be eagerly pursuing our pattern -- “the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6). If we do not, then Christianity becomes just another religious system bent on “moralizing” immoral people – no better than Taekwondo.

As your pastor, I am responsible for setting the pattern for others to follow. I am responsible for leading in life training that is more than just “good exercise”. Below is a list of some of those opportunities that I have led and been led through myself this past year:

· Worship design and leading
o AM and PM services
o Special services: Christmas Eve, National Day of Prayer, Easter Sunrise Service, Fire n Fellowships, multiple commissioning/reporting services
· Youth group
o Teaching
o Monthly leadership meetings
o Outings, activities, events
o Counseling
· Visiting/hospitality
· Preaching
o 2 Peter – “You Can Live Godly in an Ungodly World” (PM series)
o Joshua – “Experiencing Spiritual Victory” (AM series)
o Easter Sunday @ WyBC
o Prayer meeting devotionals
o VBS Training @ Cornerstone Baptist, Geneseo
o Pulpit Supply @ Henrietta Regular Baptist Church
o Graduation Speaker @ HRBCS
o Adult Dinner Speaker @ Faith Baptist, N. Chili

· VBS: Missions Director, money counter, Pastor Miguel (opening and closing MC)
· Sunday School teaching
o Decision Making God’s Way
o Reading the Bible for All Its Worth
o Psalm 119
· Summer Ministry Team training
· Word of Life Writing Team
· Judging preaching and media categories at Word of Life’s Talents for Christ
· Ministry Team Director, Jr. Sports Week
· Attended ESF conferences, monthly area pastors’ meetings
· Leadership Meetings with Dan Woodard
· Men’s Bible Study – “The eXodus-Men”
· Deacons’ and Trustees’ meetings
· Ministries Coordinator, AppleUmpkin
· Released Time Helper

We cannot be called “disciples” if we are not training our mind, body and spirit to reflect the glory of God. We must never be satisfied with our “spiritual achievement levels” (Phil. 3:12-14). We must spur one another on toward love and good deeds. This means not giving up our meeting together, but encouraging one another at every opportunity with great urgency. (Heb. 10:24-25) I would encourage you to take advantage of all of the training activities and opportunities available for your growth here at WyBC. My goal is that when we reach the end of our journey, we can all receive the everlasting black belt (2 Cor. 9:25) for excellence and progress!

Training to please the Master,

Pastor Mike Paris
Associate Pastor

Monday, October 02, 2006

Time Alone with God

Read this quote from John Ortberg, teaching pastor at Willow Creek:
"Spiritual formation is getting our lives in line with the direction of the Holy Spirit and understanding the work of the Holy Spirit so that we can feel close to him and comfortable in His presence. We are spiritually formed if when we do have failure, we don’t neglect him or think that He is neglecting us. We are secure and comfortable spending time with Him. Spiritual formation is more than doing devotions – it’s a relationship!"

This quote (actually it is my best attempt at capturing John's comments on a CD of a conversation on the topic that he had with HB London Jr.) was part of a day of refreshment that I experienced this past week. It seems that this topic is coming up more and more. Pastor Evans (Sr. Pastor/teammate) brought it up again in the series of messages that he is preaching, "Moving from Religion to Relationship". Practicing solitude is not something that I am especially good at; my life is crammed full to overflowing and I can tend to be driven by the "Tyranny of the Urgent". This discovery of my incredible need for margins started with the recent vacation that I took with my family. As I recuperated in that 8 day oasis, I realized that I had emptied my spiritual tank and was running on fumes.

I really need to be better at this type of reclamation of spiritual strength. God has gifted me with some abailities that make it "easy" to run on my own. I can do ministry without the Spirit's presence. But I shouldn't! The psalmist certainly nailed it when he said:
"Do good to your servant, and I will live;
I will obey your word.
Open my eyes that I may see
wonderful things in your law.
I am a stranger on earth;
do not hide your commands from me.
My soul is consumed with longing
for your laws at all times."
Psalm 119:17-20, NIV
Or as we studied in Sunday School this past week (another touch of the same thought), "GIMEL me!" That is to say, "Pour out your blessings, deal bountifully with me, and completely satisfy my needs so that I can be revived (survive?)and keep on obeying Your direct speeches." (Ps 119:17, expanded Parisphrase). That means that I have to pull into the gas station of the soul and ask for directions as well as get my tanks filled up! That takes time! That takes space! That means I am letting the phone ring as I type this post! :)
I have found that when it comes in bunches like this, God has raised my sensitivity in this area for a reason (by the way the CD about spiritual formation has been sitting buried on my desk for about 7-9 months). I believ that God is calling me to spiritual growth spurt in this area of my life. So, if I don't answer my phone, I might be spending time in solitude with God. I'll get back to you.
Desiring, craving soul refreshment,