Sunday, November 28, 2010

Deer Me...

I moved my family to Hobbs, New Mexico, in August of 1974. I had been called by the Taylor Street Church of Christ in Hobbs to serve as their Minister to Youth, Minister of Education, and Bus Minister. This was quite a job description, especially when the church elders decided to add on my being Minister of Personal Evangelism and Hospital Visitation. I began experiencing the feeling that my ministry was being impeded by church work.

I had a good background in church youth work and bus ministries. However, I never had been a church education director. This prompted me to set up a project that would prove my mettle and what could be more worthy than an attendance drive?

I perused the church’s attendance records over the past twenty-five years. This showed that the high attendance months each year were in March and October. Thus I set the date for our attendance drive for the last Sunday in October, 1974. What better time to set up this project than in a month where attendance historically was high?
Those records also showed that the record attendance for Sunday morning Bible classes was 684, back in October, 1965. Surely we could beat that record.

My thinking was, “If we could set a new attendance record for Sunday morning Bible study, it would be a bright feather in my cap. As you can see, my ego wanted to win a medal. Oh, did the Lord ever have a lesson in store for me.

By now, it was mid-September, 1974. There was just over a month left to promote this program. So I got started with committees, individual volunteers, advertisements, etc. Our main thrust was to ask every church family to bring at least one visitor on that designated day. Then following Bible classes and worship services, we would serve a scrumptious catered meal.

Finally, the big Sunday arrived. I was nervous since I was not working by faith but by self-acclaim. Our parking lots began filling up. Cars lined the curbs all up and down the streets around our building. We had to open a special adult class in the church auditorium (sanctuary) because the classrooms were filling up.

Yes, we set a new attendance record that morning with 786, exceeding our previous high attendance of 684 by more than one-hundred. The day went well. I was elated. People began singing my praises. “And now for the rest of the story.” (Paul Harvey)

The following Sunday morning, which was the first Sunday in November, I went down to the church building early. I did not want to miss any comments such as , “What a great job you are doing,” or “We are so glad the Lord sent you our way.” Etc…etc…etc.
But something strange occurred. Not many people were showing up. In fact, that morning only 331 members showed up for class plus three visitors to boot. What was going on? What happened?

I could not find any of the elders so I asked one of the deacons, “Where is everybody?” He replied, “Oh, deer season has opened. Most everyone has gone deer hunting.” My ego imploded. I was absolutely devastated.

I proceeded to write a bulletin article for the following week entitled, “WILL THERE BE ANY ANTLERS IN MY CROWN?” The article started out with a parody on 2 Timothy 4:2 (KJV), “Be instant in season and out of season, except of course for deer season.”

I learned that all of our elders had gone on a deer hunt together. My article caused quite a stir. I believe I came pretty close to being fired. One elder said to me, “You got away with it this time but don’t ever do that again.”

From that point on, I stood aside so that God’s Spirit could lead my every step.

Each year as deer season opens, I am reminded of that great lesson on humility the Lord afforded that young whippersnapper.

Winston Hamby

Monday, November 15, 2010

Signs of the Times...

Now that the elections are over I am compelled to share with you two campaign signs, one beside the other that were implanted in a neighbor’s front lawn. The first sign was a gentleman running for office whose name is John Boozman. Next to Boozman was a sign campaigning for Frank Baptist. My question was, “Would you lean towards voting for a Baptist? Not just any old Baptist but a Frank Baptist? Or would you sway toward a Boozman?” You do not need to answer these questions publicly.

The other day, I was in Hot Springs, Arkansas seeing the sights. Deana, my journalistic daughter with a penchant for detecting detail pointed out a sign I had completely missed. It was a bench advertisement which announced in part, "Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo." I had been curious as to why so many residents of Hot Springs had just one arm.

This sign, also in Hot Springs, was on the side of an amphibious looking type vehicle. The sign read, "National Park Duck Tours." I fear this business may fail. Reason? Just how many ducks do you think will come from National Park waterways far and wide to tour the Hot Springs downtown area? This sign caused me to ponder the question, "When a duck calls in for a reservation, how does it communicate?"

Another time while hiking in Petit Jean State Park, I became hopelessly lost. Imagine my relief when I happened upon a pictorial map sort of thing. A huge arrow pointed out my location with these words of comfort, “You are here.” Feeling a peace of mind, I wandered on out into the sunset.

The recent elections ended with a lot of Democrats finding themselves out of work. They are a proud group and refuse to stand on the street corner holding signs stating, “Lost my job, please help.” Many of them are joining hands with convenience stores to promote the sale of carbonated beverages. Hopefully, this explains the sign I saw, “FREE DEMOCRAT WITH PURCHASE OF FOUNTAIN DRINK.”

This sign gives a partial warning, “ROAD UNSAFE WHEN UNDERWATER.” Wish I could get a picture of that road but it is several blocks long. What the sign does not tell you is that with the potholes and dips, the road is unsafe whether it is underwater or not.

When my wife and I moved to the Little Rock area just over a year ago, one of our priorities was to find a church home. Just a ways down the highway from our home was a sign that read, “WARNING, PREPARE TO MEET GOD.” We thought that would be a convenient place to worship since it was so close to our house. Even though we realized that certainly it is a fair warning to be prepared to meet God, there was something about the sign that kept us from ever entering that house of worship. As I think back, I believe it was the spirit of that sign, or rather a lack of the Spirit. Somehow we were not convinced that God was there. We ended up becoming members of a church 25 miles from our home. One of their signs read, “GOD IS LOVE.” And yes, God is there.

This sign is on the highway advertising a professional psychology clinic. They spell “Psychology” as “Psycholgy.” The question looms, do you want to go or any of your family members go to a professional Psychology Clinic that can’t spell Psychology? Hmmm.
As you travel about town and/or down the highways, remember Psalm 19. Also notice the signs along the way. Some of them will make your day.

Winston Hamby