Showing posts from 2008


One of my favorite movies is the Christmas classic, A Christmas Story, the saga of a little boy named Ralphie Parker growing up in Gary, Indiana of the 1950’s. Ralphie has been drinking Ovaltine for months, saving up box tops so that he could send in a get a Little Orphan Annie Secret Decoder Ring. Finally, the Secret Decoder Ring arrives. He listens to Little Orphan Annie on the radio, waiting for the secret code message. He carefully writes down the code and then rushes off to the bathroom to be begin the decoding process. The suspense builds as he decodes the first few letters "Be sure to.." Be sure to what. The fate of the world could rest in his hands. His pencil flies as he feverishly struggles to decode the rest of the message. "Be sure to drink your Ovaltine." A crummy commercial?! Sometimes you just don’t feel like you get what you asked for at Christmas do you? I think a lot of times we actually cheat ourselves out of a great Christmas because our expect

A Perspective on the recent election!

My father, Dr. Gerald Hallmark, pastor of First Baptist Church of Alexander City, Alabama wrote the following article in his weekly column in The Tallapoosa Outlook newspaper. I thought I would post it here so you could read it. THE FOUNDATIONS OF OUR FAITH ARE STILL INTACT Okay, the elections are over and the sun is still coming up in the east and setting in the west. In spite of all the dire predictions the world did not come to an end and we are still on our feet and moving forward. Of course, there are a lot of things we still don’t know about this new administration and congress, but there are some things we are assured of and can take to heart. These are important to remember. Be assured that God was not surprised at the outcome of the vote. He has seen over the affairs of men too long to be awed by men’s perspective of what constitutes historical events. You can be assured that God is still on His throne and has not be deposed by petty men trying their best to remove h


The following article was written by Pastor Rick Warren and was sent out in his Ministry Toolbox email (Issue # 362 on 10-1-08). I thought it was applicable to the sermon series I am presently preaching at FBC called First and 10: The Bible's playbook for the game of life. Last Sunday I preached on the Lord's commandment regarding a Sabbath. We can identify with what a USA Today article said about life for many people. “Today people are souped up, stressed out, and over scheduled. In this brave new world boundaries between work and family are disappearing. Everybody is mobile and every moment is scheduled.” The Bible tells us that hurry and worry and scurry have dramatic negative effects on our life and ministries. If you’re serious about slowing your life down to a more humane pace of life, you’re going to have to make five counter-cultural changes in your lifestyle. Learn contentment. It starts in the heart. Paul says this about contentment in Philippians 4:12 (NIV): “I have

Relationships and Leadership

Dr. Emil Turner, Executive Director of the Arkansas Baptist Convention, recently posted a fantastic article related to how our relationships with those we lead has a direct effect on our ability to lead them. Let me encourage you to go here and read this great article:

A Christian's Responsibility to Vote!

One of the topics that rises to the surface during an election year is the role of faith or the role of a Christian in relationship to politics. Throughout the nation we hear the voices of the skeptics decrying the participation of people of faith in the political arena. Worn our phrases, such as “separation of church and state”, are used in an effort to silent God’s people. Amazingly every other influence in the world is debated and discussed in relationship to politics, but somehow religion and personal faith seems to be dismissed. Historically, we clearly recognize the fact that the whole concept of “the separation of church and state” has been grossly distorted from its original intent. The phrase was taken from a letter of Thomas Jefferson to a Baptist group meeting in Connecticut simply to assure them that the government could not infringe upon their religious freedoms, nor could they discriminate against a church or denomination. The intent of the phrase today is to keep peopl

The Christian's response to the present US Economy!

I have just posted a 5 part series of blogs called " The Christian's response to the present US economy" on the First Baptist Church of Marion, AR website. I hope you will take time to go there and let these blogs encourage you. Here is the link:


The story is told of two farmers. Both of the farmers needed rain, so each decided to pray for God to send the rain. While praying, only one of the farmers got his fields prepared for God to send the rain. Here is the question: Which farmer do you think had faith and believed God? The obvious answer is the farmer who prepare the field had faith in God. This summer at First Baptist Church of Marion, AR we are trying to prepare the fields of our hearts, homes, and church for God to send the rains of repentance, revival, and renewal upon us. For this to happen in your life, you and I need to get ourselves ready to receive what God has for us. To do so, we need to confess any known or unknown sin in our lives. We need to make sure that Jesus is the priority of our lives and we are not being distracted by lesser things. We need to spend time in God's Word and in prayer. We need to be faithful in all things, including the little things like our attendance and tithe. My prayer is that w

FDR Leads the nation in Prayer at the beginning of D-Day!

The following prayer was prayed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt as he leads the nation in prayer on June 6, 1944 as the Greatest Generation launched its mightiest battle of the Second World War commonly known as D-Day. As we have just celebrated Memorial Day and look toward July 4th, these words should be reminders to all believers to pray for our nation, our president, and our military personnel worldwide as they sacrifice their lives so that we might remain free and the greatest nation on earth!


James Byrnes, Secretary of State under FDR, said that the difference between successful people and average people can be summed up in these 3 words, and then some. He said, "Average people do what is expected. Successful people do what is expected, and then some." I believe the same could be said for a Christian. Sadly, most of the Christian people I know, even members of our own church, are not even "average" by this definition because they do not even do "what is expected." For many believers, attendance is optional in their minds. Coming to worship on Sunday night or Bible study on Wednesday night is not even on their radar. Tithing is not even a consideration for them as the choose disobedience. It never crosses their minds to tell someone they know about Jesus, much less invite them to church or Sunday School. Is this what Jesus meant in Luke 9:23, when He said, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily


A little girl stood in the hallway of her Sunday School hall staring at a picture of Jesus standing and knocking on a door. Her pastor saw her standing there staring at the picture, so he walked over beside her and stood. After just a moment the little girl spoke to him in a confused and perplexed voice and asked, "Preacher, did Jesus ever get in?" What a good question for us! I wonder if we ever really let Jesus in? Do we let Jesus into our marriages? Do we let Jesus into our finances? Do we let Jesus into our decisions? Do we let Jesus into our families? Do we let Jesus into our jobs? Do we let Jesus in? The answer is clearly seen in our commitments of life. Here is what I know: Anything in this life that you are committed to will require you to make a sacrifice . If something does not require you to make a sacrifice personally, then you are really not committed to it. Take a marriage for example. If you are committed to you spouse, you will daily make personal sacrifices


Once again we are facing a fight against the Lottery in Arkansas. While on the surface a Lottery promises the citizens of our state the world, the fact is that in the 42 states with the lottery, none of the promises are being delivered to citizens. A lottery preys on our poorest and weakest citizens and serves as nothing more that a regressive tax. Already the Commercial Appeal out of Memphis was reporting the state-wide budget shortfalls in the Tennessee state government and listing the cuts that will be made to its citizens. How can that be? The lottery in Tennessee was supposed to solve that problem. We see it first hand in West Memphis. The new gaming devices at the dog track were supposed to provide all the money needed to the city and ultimately the county to provide for the needs of its citizens. Two weeks ago the city council had to meet to readjust their tax designations just to pay for the thousands of dollars worth of shortfall in the city budget. The lottery steals from you

10 Ways to make Guests feel Unwelcome (copied)

The following article was recently posted by David Francis, Director of Sunday School for LifeWay Christian Resources. It is a tongue-n-cheek look at how churches sometimes are not welcoming to guests. I think you'll enjoy this! Thanks David for this article!! NASHVILLE, Tenn., 4/10/2008 -- April Fool’s Day is behind us, but it is still close enough for some people – like me! – to slip in some tongue-in-cheek jests. So in honor of April Fool’s Day, this list is for all those churches who really would rather people just leave them alone.Got too many people visiting your church? Need to do some things to discourage them from coming back a second time? Here are 10 ways to make guests feel unwelcome should they show up at your church or class. You don’t even need to do all of them. But be careful! If you do the opposite of even six or seven of the items on this list, you might discover that guests are returning for a second visit. Do the opposite of nine or 10 of them, and you could di

Questions of Life!

Life is filled with questions! Every day we are surrounded by them. Some of the questions we face are easy to answer, while other questions seem to be impossible to ascertain. Several questions come to my mind for which there is no answer. Let me give you a few examples: Why is there not a shorter word for abbreviation? Why is there no synonym for thesaurus? Why do highly trained doctors call what they do “practicing medicine”? What is it that to stop Microsoft Windows, you have to click on the start icon? Why is lemon juice made with artificial flavoring and dishwashing liquid made with real lemons? Why is a man who invests all your money called a ‘broker’? Why is the time of day with the slowest traffic called rush hour? Why isn’t there any mouse-flavored cat food? Why do you never read the headline, “Psychic wins lottery” if they can predict the future? Why are there Braille labels at drive-up ATMs? Why can’t women put on mascara with their mouths closed? As you can see, life is f


Cal Ripken, Jr. earned the nickname "Iron Man" while playing for the Baltimore Orioles by remaining in the staring lineup for his team day after day for 2,632 games spanning over 16 years. This record broke the 56 year old mark held by Lou Gehrig. Ripken went on to be inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility on January 9, 2007. What was it that made him special? It was this: Ability made him good, but consistency mad him great! The difference between a great and growing church as opposed to a mediocre and plateaued church is one thing: The consistency of its members to the things of God. Alan Taylor says, "Consistency is a mixture of direction, determination, and durability." Sounds a lot like what Jesus said in Luke 9:62, when He said, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God (NIV)." What is Jesus talking about? He is talking about our focus or our lack of focus. I kn

Doing things right OR doing the RIGHT things?

Leadership and management guru Peter Drucker once said, “ Management is doing things right; Leadership is doing the right things.” When I read that statement several years ago, I wondered about its validity. However, in observing churches all around me and spending time in churches as a preacher, conference leader, or consultant, I have come to the conclusion that Drucker is right. In fact I am convinced that more and more churches are only concerning themselves with "doing things right" while fewer and fewer churches are concerned with "doing the right things." The percentage of churches in decline is America is ridiculously high. Estimates state that 80% of all churches in America are either plateaued or declining. I know this is at least the case in the Southern Baptist Convention. If it is true for all churches in our country then this represents some 160,000 + churches. The largest majority of these churches have to be ‘doing things right’ to some degree as

Things are not so bad in the USA!

The other day a friend sent me the following email. I couldn't have said it better myself! The Newsweek poll alleges that 67 percent of Americans are unhappy with the direction the country is headed, and 69 percent of the country is unhappy with the performance of the President. In essence, 2/3's of the citizenry just ain't happy and want a change. ''What are we so unhappy about?'' Is it that we have electricity and running water 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? Is our unhappiness the result of having air conditioning in the summer and heating in the winter? Could it be that 95.4 percent of these unhappy folks have a job? Maybe it is the ability to walk into a grocery store at any time, and see more food in moments than Darfur has seen in the last year? Maybe it is the ability to drive from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean without having to present identification papers as we move through each state? Or possibly the hundreds of clean and safe motels w


Recently I read a statement that relates to many churches. The statement read like this: "Some people are kind, polite, and sweet-spirited...until you try to sit in their pew." Obviously this is an overexaggeration for most churches, but there is a hint of truth. How many of us on a given Sunday go out of our way to make new people (guests) feel at home and welcome in our church family? At First Baptist Marion, we average well over 50 guests every Sunday. When guests come to FBC they often have questions in their minds like a person visiting a store for the first time. Truly many of them are "church shoppers." They are asking these kind of questions: * Am I needed? * Can I make friends here? * Where do I fit in? * Is this worth the effort of my time? * Are these people real? * Can my life really change? I am more and more convinced that before Sunday guests will buy into or believe our Sunday message of salvation or even become interested in one of our many minis


On February 5th I turned 40 years old. Out of love for me, I was thoroughly harassed by my staff who came to work wearing all black to "mourn the death of my youth." Additionally, I was greeted with a black coffin in my office, streamers declaring that I was "over the hill," and one friend even gave me a gift of products one would readily find at the local nursing home. You is a great thing to have friends who genuinely love you enough to go to all this trouble to see that I had a GREAT birthday! I do appreciate and love them. Now that I am 40, I began to think about things that I have learned and found to be true over the past 40 years. Can I share some of these important thoughts with you today? 1. My father was right when he taught me this truth: "It is not what happens to you in life that matters. What matters is how you react to it." 2. John Maxwell was right when he said, "Everything rises and falls on leadership." 3. Personal e


In his book, Traveling Light, author Max Lucado tells the story of a man on an African safari deep in the jungle. The guide before him had a machete and was whacking away at the tall weeks and thick jungle underbrush. The traveler, wearied and hot, asked the guide in frustration, "Where are we? Do you really know where you are taking me? Where is the path?" The seasoned guide stopped and looked back at the man and replied to him, "I am the path!" We should be reminded that Jesus said the same thing when He said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the father except through Me (John 14:6)." Jesus is still the only way to get to heaven. His is the path. I many people have to shared with lately about Jesus? Thom Rainer of LifeWay reports that 4 of 8 people surveyed across America admitted they would listen to someone if they cared enough about them to share with them the gospel message. We must recommit our lives as believers


My good friend, Pastor Fernando Brandao (Director of the Brazilian Home Mission Board), recenty preached at the 2007 Arkansas Baptist Convention Pastor's Conference in Van Buren, AR. Preaching on the subject of His Mission is Our Mission , Pastor Fernando made a very clear and true statement when he said this: "The church is not a place to fulfill our own plans and/or agendas. The church is a place to fulfill Jesus' plan and agenda. The church is not a place to realize our vision, but a place to realize the vision of Jesus...Sharing the gospel is the greatest demonstration of loving your neighbor." The truth is that every Christian is without excuse when it comes to the command of evangelism. If we have truly been saved, then each of us has a "story" to tell to someone else. If our homes were on fire and someone broke in and miraculously saved us, all we could do in our community is talk to others about how we were saved and how wonderful this person was for


I am a student of people. I watch people because they are so interesting and there are so many lessons to learn. If you really want to learn some important lessons about life, then just watch Christian people. Recently, I have been observing a group of believers who are median aged adults. Basically, here is what I have learned to be true. I believe the reason many believers are failing in their Christian walk with the Lord and falling "head over heels" into life's temptations is because they have only asked the Lord to be apart of their lives, marriages, families, decisions, and finances. What does God's Word have to teach us? God's Word shows us over and over again that the Lord does NOT want to be apart of our lives! Don't miss this... The Lord wants to completely take over our lives- every part of our lives! "Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteous, then all these other things will be added to you (Mt. 6:33)." I was just wondering.