Monday, April 28, 2008

Annie from China

This past week end, my wife Coletta and I along with our entire congregation were blessed to have Annie Wong, a native of Dongguan City, China as our guest here at Van Wert, Ohio. This was Annie’s first visit to the U. S. Annie is a friend of our son, Aaron Burns who lives and works in China. The ladies at our church hosted a special Sat. afternoon Tea for Annie at Georgene Brown’s farm house near Convoy, Ohio, and Annie was our featured guest at our Sunday morning church service. After touring our Sunday School classes, Annie testified, sang, and answered questions during our morning worship service. God blessed us with 151 people in this service, and after Annie’s presentation, I don’t think we had a “dry eye in the house.” For me, the most touching part of Annie’s testimony besides her reading Psalm 23 in Chinese was these words she shared, “It is so difficult to talk about my childhood. No joy. But now because of Jesus, I have joy in my life.”

Once again, a huge reminder of what life is really all about and why we as believers are here on the earth. Annie’s bold testimony of her Savior made us as American Christians seem very anemic. “Annie, it was a joy to have you in the Burns’ home and in our church at Van Wert, Ohio, U.S.A. Thank you for blessing us with your presence.”

That’s something to think about!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Sacrificing Kids on the Altar of Your Selfishness

"But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea." (Matthew 18:6)

It's important for me to preface today's article by saying that I am not referring here to staying with a cult or a church ministry that is not Bible based. If you have a pastor or church who is not operating according to the principles of God's Word (the Bible), you need to get out of that mess as soon as possible. What I am talking about is Christ-centered Pastors, churches, and ministries that are living what they preach and who believe in exalting Christ and presenting salvation as a free gift. I'm referring to congregations who strive to live with Godly principles from hearts filled with love for Christ.

The burden of my heart has to do with selfish parents. Parents that are so selfish that if they don't get their way with something they want in the church or, if they have a conflict with another church member they’re leaving! Maybe the pastor "offends them" so the parents drag their "kids" and walk out. “ I got my feelings hurt, so, we're switching churches!" Or better yet, they take the more spiritual route and pull their kids out of church completely and don't go anywhere. I've pastored 4 different churches in 3 different states, and I've seen this more than once, and it's wrong. It's wicked, carnal, and very selfish. Paul the Apostle addressed this type of unchristian behavior this way, "For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?" (1 Cor. 3:3) Now think with me for a minute. Here is a child (let's say she’s a teen) and she loves her church, loves her pastor and family, and is absolutely crazy about the church's youth group and youth director. Her best friends are in her church youth group. She can't wait for the next teen activity, and wouldn't dream of missing teen choir rehearsal. Going to the Camp of the Wilds in July is something Ericka has been dreaming about since she was in the third grade. And then, just one month before the church bus pulls out of the parking lot for North Carolina, her parents rip her from everything that she loves and says, "Come on Ericka, we're having problems with _____ so, we won't be back at Liberty!" Jesus is saying in our introductory text, “Mom, you’d be much better off tying a big rock to your neck and sinking yourself in the lake and dying rather than to follow through with this horrible idea.” This type of divorce leaves scars, pain, and a lot of tears in the lives of children all across America. Most Christian parents would give their right arms to have a girl like Ericka who can't wait until the church doors are open again or the church bus is leaving for the next teen activity or camp, but not you, you're going to show the preacher, the church and the whole town, "we won't be back."

For any parent who is even tempted to think about doing such a selfish act, I have a sermon for you. What are you going to do when in just six months; your kid doesn't want to go to any church at all? She paints her finger nails black and dyes her hair pink. She starts hanging out with her druggie friends and soon after loses her virginity. She picks up a disease from a dirty needle and now, instead of embracing her Bible she is spitting at it. "I'm going to hell and having a party on the way!" is your daughter's new motto. Well Christian Mom, let me say this: You're going to have a lot to answer for when you stand at the feet of Jesus and He reminds you of the time when you should have just sat down with that other lady and got things worked out. You should simply forgive that other church member and be reconciled to your Christian "adult" brother or sister. Wouldn't this be the Biblical approach? Isn't this the right thing to do? So the next time you "don't get your way" at church or have a conflict at your House of Worship, why not be spiritual for a change, love your kids enough to not sacrifice them on the altar of your selfishness. You might be mad now for a gray haired preacher telling you the truth about your selfishness and pride, but one day, if you side up with God on what I'm talking about, you'll reap wonderful blessings with your children rather than bitter tears. It's better for you too. So just stop being so selfish and start growing up! Before you run away from God and the church, think about the horrible long term effect your exit will make on your children.

That's something to think about!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

My Brother Johnny

My brother, Johnny Burns is 16 months older than me. Besides Bud and Dot Burns (our parents), it was just us. He's the good-looking tall guy on the left with his hand in his pocket. I'm the short goofy jerk on the right (with my hand in my pocket). Since Johnny was always my hero (handsome, good athlete, good student and a comedian, I tried to copy him a lot. I failed in the first three categories; so, I became the school clown and started beating the drums to draw attention away from him. When that pivotal change occurred in my life, my grades went from D+ to F - . Nonetheless, Johnny and I had a lot of fun growing up together. Swimming, baseball, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and the whole nine yards. In the sixth grade, he started blowing his trumpet and I started taking drum lessons. After advancing to High School, we started a trash hauling service in our town and drove our trash truck to high school! We’d do about anything to get attention! That's how close we were. Hauling garbage on Saturday morning and playing band gigs on Saturday night. (Well, I guess you'd say we "helped" pay our way through school)!

I cry a lot now, but back then, I hardly ever cried. But the two times I cried the most for Johnny was first when our rock band, (The Mag Five, later evolving into The Soul Success) kicked Johnny out for hiding in his girl friend's closet to avoid rock band practice. He was our bass guitar player, trumpeter and one of our singers. (I was a Freshman in High School when that happened). I was crushed. The other guys jerked my hero from the “group” and me. If I had it to do all over again, I would have hid with him in the closet and we would have started OUR OWN BAND!

The next time I cried for him was when he joined the Army, became a Huey pilot and served in Viet Nam. While Johnny was in Viet Nam, I was a Freshman in college. I'd say my dorm floor buddies and tons of other Christian friends prayed ole John in and out of Nam. Johnny once flew his Huey on a mission, picked up a distress signal and rescued two downed Air Force pilots. IT WAS MY BROTHER that saved their lives! Johnny got a Silver Star metal for that, and after serving his term, came home safely. After all those years, he and his family live in Oklahoma City and he is still serving as a pilot for Oklahoma Mediflight. During his 38 years of flying, he’s flown T. V. reporting flights over the city and Medical helicopter flights in Alaska, Florida, Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma and several other states.

Our distance and duties keep us from seeing each other much, but, we're still buddies and he's still my hero. I'm very proud of my brother, Johnny.

Love ya brother!

I'm Johnny's little brother, and that's something to think about!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

It is a Good Tired!

Last Thursday, April 3, 2008 our church officially took possession of the 3.6 acres of the Horace Mann School Property here in Van Wert. From early Thursday morning until Saturday evening, the good people of Liberty, Dick and Sam from Dillon Road Baptist Church of Fostoria, Ohio, and three different construction High School groups from Vantage Career Center along with their Instructor, Larry Mengerink never stopped working. All the ceiling tile was removed along with the insulation above, three storage room walls were removed and several table holders, tables and benches were removed from the cafeteria to make way for sanctuary seating and new carpet. Of course, we had to cut three trees down just to "mark" our new territory! As I came home from the Saturday work day to finish my Sunday morning sermon on my laptop, I was exhausted. I am exhausted again from ministering at church today. But, when our adult service was over at our old church building tonight, I hitched a ride with the guy pictured here cutting down the tree to see how the teen service and scavenger hunt activity went at our new building. Love, excitement and enthusiasm permeated the dusty air as the teens and our dedicated youth workers ate pizza, cookies and drank colored syrup for refreshments. I sampled a little of each, laughed and rejoiced with the workers and good kids who make up our church youth group. Tony and Lisa Crawford, our youth director and his wife helped turn out the lights and lock the doors. Although I was asked for a ride home, I needed the five block walk in the crisp, spring, fresh Ohio air to unwind. I said to myself what my missionary son, Aaron in China once said after he directed a Neighborhood Bible Time here. "I'm tired, but, it is a good tired!" Why so good? The guy who took me to the youth activity (pictured above cutting down the tree) is Terry Reynolds, who lives just 3 blocks West of our new building. Seven months ago, Terry and his family were not Christians. But on the last week of September, 2008, after attending our church for several weeks, Terry, his wife Deb and their oldest child, T. J. accepted Christ in their own home. They also have a younger daughter named Jessie who just accepted Christ into her life last Sunday night. I was honored to be with them to show them the Bible verses about salvation and pray with them in their living room as they were saved that night. And that, my friend is what this building project is all about! And that makes it a "good tired." The Reynolds are now faithful members of our church, and Terry is one of our new "tree cutters!" Let's get tired more often in leading more people like the Reynolds to Jesus Christ.

That's Something to Think About!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Why Something to Think About?

About a year after Coletta (my wife) and I and our youngest son, Aaron moved from Kansas to start our ministry here in Van Wert, Ohio, I had a vision to go on our local AM and FM Radio Station. I had been on the radio in Hutchinson, Kansas for 9 years, and I enjoy communicating with people through this medium. Having said that, our church's program in Kansas was 30 minutes long on Sunday mornings and one hour long on Sunday nights (once a week). I personally felt that the "unchurched" folks I wanted to reach out to would not sit by a radio for a half hour or an hour and listen to a radio preacher. We were able to be a blessing to a lot of shut ins, but, we could have taken them a cassette tape once a week and saved our church about $500.00 a month.

So, I presented to our church's budget committee here at Liberty Baptist the idea of a once a day 60 second spot devotional challenge for our local radio station. A friendly presentation with a short illustration, maybe one or two Bible verses with an application for a person's every day life. My thinking was, "Let's give the listeners something to think about in a short enough time frame so they won't turn us off before we are finished talking." was my thinking. Well, we've been on W.E.R.T. Radio here now for about ten years with these one minute broadcasts, once a day, seven days a week. Many people have heard these challenges, and thanked us for them. I have met several listeners through this ministry, and we have also had people visit our church from as far as 30 miles away who heard us on W.E.R.T. Radio. I end each broadcast saying, "This is Pastor Jim Burns of the Liberty Baptist Church in Van Wert, Ohio, and that's something to think about!" Thus the title and theme for our new blog. Email: