The Day of the A

On February 25, 1994, President Bill Clinton signed legislation which created AmeriCorps, a service organization from the Corporation for National and Community Service. Today is known as “The Day of the A” and is simply, the birthday of AmeriCorps.

Perhaps you are unfamiliar with AmeriCorps. I am almost certain that you have heard of Peace Corps, created during President John F. Kennedy’s administration. Well, whereas individuals serving the Peace Corps (the toughest job you’ll ever love) serve around the world, AmeriCorps (ah -mer-i-core) members serve local communities around the Nation. Some AmeriCorps programs may focus on education, some on the environment, yet all focus on the joy of serving others.

I served as an AmeriCorps member for two years. Many AmeriCorps programs (such as the one I served with, the Grenada School District AmeriCorps Program), limit terms of service to two. Some may go as far as three terms (or years) of service. Why is this? Through their service, AmeriCorps members learn skills and make memories that will last a lifetime. Service through AmeriCorps can be life-changing! Those who serve in the program are urged to take the skills, experiences, and talents they gain and spend their lives seeking to change the world. Take, for example, the AmeriCorps Pledge. Each year, thousands of adults, 18 and older, take this oath as they begin their term of service:

will get things done for America -
to make our people safer,
smarter, and healthier.
I will bring Americans together
to strengthen our communities.
Faced with apathy,
I will take action.
Faced with conflict,
I will seek common ground.
Faced with adversity,
I will persevere.
I will carry this commitment
with me this year and beyond.
I am an AmeriCorps member,
and I will get things done

What are the benefits to serving in AmeriCorps? First, you will receive great satisfaction in serving others. Whether it be teaching a student to read, mentoring youth, reading a book to children at local libraries, or assisting with a local food pantry or homeless shelter, I promise that those who want to serve will receive tremendous fulfillment.

Also, those who serve in AmeriCorps will receive a modest living expense. Additionally, after successful completion of 1,700 hours over the course of one term (again, typically one year), AmeriCorps members will be awarded the Segal Education Award of $5,645 per term. So, if an individual served two terms in AmeriCorps, that person would receive an education award of $11,290 plus the living expense. With the healthcare also provided, service in AmeriCorps may just be what you have been looking for.

Imagine, for a moment, a grandparent would love to provide an incredible gift for a grandchild who is about to be a freshman in high school but money is limited. Now, imagine that grandparent serving in AmeriCorps for two terms. During these two years, that grandparents finds the joy of teaching a GED class, or putting on a puppet show at the public library, or helping children learn phonics at school. Meanwhile, she earns her living expense and healthcare coverage each month through AmeriCorps. After two years of service, she is able to present her grandchild at graduation, an education award of over $11,000! Now that is a gift!! The transfer of the education award only applies to individuals over the age of fifty-five. All others can use their education award themselves to further their education or to pay off student loans. I used my Segal Education Award to get a Master’s Degree in Christian Ministry!

As I close this article, who should consider AmeriCorps?

  • Anyone wanting to make a difference
  • Bivocational ministers
    (I was a bivocational pastor when I served in AmeriCorps and it fit me perfectly!)
  • Young adults unsure of what they want to do with their life
    (You will find talents you never knew you had!)
  • Graduating high school seniors
    (Consider AmeriCorps NCCC)
  • Retired individuals or couples
    (You have LOTS of wisdom to impart)
  • You!

GO TO WWW.NATIONALSERVICE.GOV TO FOR INFORMATION

God Is Good!

As I enjoy a cup of coffee on this Monday morning and reading from God’s word, I can’t help but think of how good God has been to me. He gave me parents who loved me and my sister and provided a stable, Christian home for us. Looking at the Cub Scout photo below, it seems like an eternity ago.

image

Now, I am amazed that God has blessed me with a precious wife for almost twenty years now. Michelle, my wife, and I have a remarkable son named Luke who will be getting his driver’s permit this June. I have had the joy of serving five amazing congregations as pastor. God has given me dear friends. He has given me good health. God has been good! Additionally, He will remain good! (more…)

A Warped View of Suffering

Matthew 4:12 (KJV)
Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee;

We often think that, because the natural inclination of Mankind is to avoid suffering, that surely God must have this same view for His children. After all, God is love (I John 4:16); therefore, since God loves, then He will do everything to prevent hurt and suffering.

Yet, that is not an inaccurate view of God. Now, before I go any further, I should preface the remainder of this article by stating that God is omniscient (all knowing), omnipresent (everywhere), and omnipotent (all powerful). God is quite capable of preventing bad things from occurring. Yet, as painful as life can be and as difficult as situations we face may seem, God is always right. He is always righteous and holy in what He does.

Speaking of trouble, let’s look at a couple of passages to see what the Bible promises about our lives on Planet Earth.

Job 14:1 (KJV)
Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.

John 16:33 (KJV)
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

1 Peter 4:12-13 (KJV)
Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.

So, it appears that trouble and trials can be (and should be) expected even in the Christian life. However, this offers little consolation to those facing difficulty. No one would expect anyone who has lost their job, been diagnosed with a disease, or experiencing a divorce to say, “Oh well, I guess I should have expected it.” This would be absurd.

John the Baptist was a mighty man of God. He proclaimed a fiery and impassioned message to bring fruits worthy of repentance. God used John in a great way. In fact, John even baptized the Son of God. Yet, John was arrested for his faith and was imprisoned. Our passage, Matthew 4:12, states that Jesus went into seclusion when John was arrested. Three questions come to mind here: 1) Why did Jesus withdraw Himself? (2) Does He do this today? (3) Is it acceptable or natural for people to question why God does not intervene when difficulty comes?

Question #1
“Why did Jesus withdraw Himself?”

Our passage continues to state that Jesus fulfilled prophecy by the route He chose.

Matthew 4:13-15 (KJV)
And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim:
That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles;

Perhaps a young boy in Zabulon needed to see the power of God through Christ. Maybe God refreshed the heart of a Nephtalim man who was about to give up. Although God owes no man an explanation for His actions, He always has a purpose.  

Jesus knew that it was necessary for John the Baptist to go down the road of imprisonment. We may not purposely choose (or even like) the path that we have been led down. However, Christians have the pleasure of walking with Christ even in the darkest of paths. Sometimes even the shadow of death is sometimes seen. Thank God, however, that the Light of the World walks with His children so that the darkness of difficulty does not overtake us.

The answer: Jesus withdrew because He sought to fulfill prophecy and to do the will of the Father. While it was unfortunate about the imprisonment of John, Jesus knew the end result.

Question #2
“Does Jesus withdraw Himself today?”

Some people believe that God wound up the Universe like a toy and that He has simply chosen to allow everything to run a specified course. But the truth is, God is actively involved in the workings of the world and is concerned about His children. If God knows when a sparrow falls (Matt. 10:29), then He certainly knows about the problems that people face.

While God is not willing that any should perish (II Pet. 3:9), the fact is: many people will suffer forever in Hell because they did not accept the gift of salvation offered by Jesus Christ. Likewise, I do not believe that God wants anyone to suffer simply for suffering sake. Yet, there is a purpose in allowing suffering today. Perhaps He allows difficulty in an unbeliever’s life so that the person may realize how much they need the saving grace of Jesus. For Christians, uses suffering to accomplish His will in the lives of His children.

Answer: Jesus does not withdraw Himself from the lives of His children today although He does allow various things to occur. He patiently waits on unbelievers to trust Him in order to save them from everlasting punishment.

Question #3
“Is it acceptable or natural for people to question God when He does not intervene when difficulty comes?”

Is it natural? Yes. Is it acceptable? I have always heard people say, “You’re not supposed to question God” as if God were a Nazi guard and we simply have to take it because we are feeble Mankind. Quite honestly, God wants to hear the heart cries of those who are broken. There have been many individuals who have been angry with God over situations. In fact, it may be you. Have you talked to God about it? Please don’t keep it bottled up. If we believe that God is real and that He actively involved in the affairs of the world, then it would be foolish for us not to talk to Him. Yes, it is natural for you question why you had to go down the path that you did. Have you learned anything from the experience? It is tragic that you have lost a loved one. Is God still there? Absolutely…

Pastor’s Pointers

After taking a hiatus from the blogging scene for a few a years, I am pleased to be back in the writing saddle. Albeit, some of my posts may be random, quirky, or just plain weird, I really do hope to be able to provide some meaningful, inspiring, and informative blog entries.

Years ago, while serving Shiloh Baptist Church as pastor, I was able to write several articles entitled “Pastor’s Pointers.” These weekly articles were placed in the church bulletin and simply provided a devotional thought, challenge, or announcement.

Now, as pastor of Glendale Baptist Church in Glen, Mississippi, I find that the need for encouragement and inspiration is even greater. While there are literally thousands of blogs, websites, social media outlets, and podcasts that encourage the Body of Christ and tell others about Jesus Christ, I would like to assist with this effort. From time to time, I might post some announcements from Glendale Baptist Church. I may provide some light (and clean) humor. Because members of my family will be reading posts on jonhaimes.com, I might even get down right boastful of my kin folks. Either way, I do hope that you will join me as I simply share aspects of my spiritual journey.

Running Proud

Today is a monumental day for me. Today was the first race that I had been in since I was seventeen years old! As an almost forty-year old, I found the 5K Grenada Kiwanis Club’s 2nd Annual Fun Run/Walk to be challenging but very FUN! I was thrilled complete the race in 26.15 seconds. “Not bad for a forty year old, inexperienced runner wannabe”, I thought.

What’s more, I was delighted to complete the race with my wife. We both had a wonderful time of fellowship together and being engaged in our community. You know, it’s a real blessing and joy to support fine organizations such as the Kiwanis Club! It’s also a wonderful thing when people rally together and seek to be salt and light throughout the world.

It’s been a good day…

JON

VBS Friendship Continues…

I took last Friday, December 10, 2010 off from work because I had some important meetings. First, I attended the Christmas program presented by the four year olds at Ms. Mary’s Little Learners in Grenada. My wife, Michelle, is the School Director at Ms. Marys and Ms. Mary Staten is celebrating twenty years of impacting the lives of children. Michelle and her assistant, Ms. Ann Upchurch, have worked diligently with the children and they did great! What a wonderful way to focus on the simplistic marvel of Christmas.

Later, I met my best friend from high school, Michael Boyce, for lunch. Michael now resides in Dallas, Texas and is a partner in an architect firm. Michael and I first met at a Vacation Bible School at the Saxon Memorial Church of the Nazarene in Houston, Mississippi. We were in about the fourth or fifth grade. We continued being the best of friends throughout school. However, after high school Michael began college and focusing on his career and so did I. We would talk occasionally by telephone or communicate via email.

I was able to see Michael briefly this summer at the funeral service of his sister, Brenda. Though the day was filled with sadness, I was still glad to see him. Since then, we have tried to plan a day in which we could visit and reminise. That day was this past Friday. We had a great time laughing, remembering, and just continuing our friendship. I can honestly say that Michael has always been my best friend. Have we talked every day, every week, or even every year? No. Yet, best friends don’t have to talk every day in order to continue as best friends. Although I had not seen Michael in twenty-one years, it seemed like we were still in high school as we talked, joked, and talked aobu our tast in music, food, and automobiles.

Oh Reader, I tell you all this simply to make one point: if you have one friend who is there for you and you count as your best friend then thank God! There are obligations to friends. Proverbs 18:24 states, “He who has friends must first show himself friendly.” Be a friend today. You never know what your friendship might mean to someone. Furthermore, you never know that their friendship might mean to you.

Christmas Tree 2010

Most of the time, the Haimes family pulls out the standard artificial Christmas tree from our shed. The tree will be fully assembled and completely covered and sealed with a large, thick garbage bag to keep it from getting dusty. However, this year we’ve decided to put up a real Christmas tree. Luke, our eleven year old son, and I purchased a beautiful Fraser Fir tree from Mid-South Produce in Grenada. We thought we would surprise my wife, Michelle. She was especially thrilled to hear that Luke selected the tree.

After purchasing a tree stand from Walgreens, Luke and I brought the tree into the living room and waited for Michelle to get home from work to advise us where to move things. (If there is one thing that I have learned after sixteen and a half years of marriage, it is to let the Mrs. handled the inside of the home Haha). After arranging the living room to accommodate the tree for the holidays and cleaning up, we decided to decorate the tree on the house this Friday night. So right now, our home is filled with the wonderful scent of a live Chritmas tree. We’re kinda feeling the Christmas spirit move in.

I think I’ll put up a tree for us here at the Chapel Cabin. We might even have some hot apple cider throughout the holidays. Enjoy this Christmas. Don’t get so stressed with the gifts. Just do what you can. Trust me, chances are by next Christmas, people probably won’t even remember what you get them anyway (haha). Take a family drive to see Christmas lights. Go to a Christmas play or church cantata. Start some traditions. I think that you will find that the memories that you’ll make with your family will far outweigh whatever material items you can get.  
Sowing and Serving,
"I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow." I Cor. 3:6 (NIV)
Jon

Why Chapel Cabin?

After months of trying to publish blogs and visualizing a reasonably consistent flow of blogs, I have come to conclusion: I’ve had WAAY too much going on in my life to try to take on anything else. Even something as enjoyable and beneficial as a positive, encouraging, and Christ-honoring blog has, until now, seemed like a luxury that I simply couldn’t afford.

Yet now, after having renamed my blog to the present  Chapel Cabin,  I do believe that now is the time to start investing more time, energy, and devotion to this extension of my Christian faith. As a bivocational (or dual-career, or doubly blessed, or whatever the latest catch phrase may be) pastor, my time is limited. Of course, everyone’s time is limited, right? I’m not looking for pity and I’m not trying to make myself sound super spiritual or more devoted than any other minister. I mean just that: I’m busy. In fact, many times I am too busy. That’s the purpose of the Chapel Cabin.

I want to tell you, Reader, what the Chapel Cabin is about. This blog is about life, faith, making mistakes, wanting to know God more, and wanting God to do something about that rude cashier that gets on our nerves. Let’s face it: life is not at all perfect. It took me over three decades and considerable times of failure to realize that there is absolutely nothing that I can do to make God love me any more and nothing that I could ever do that could cause God to love me any less.  The Chapel Cabin will be a place for encouragement, transparency, genuine concern, and an occasional laugh as we seek to know God more. Here at the cabin, we proudly serve Son Valley Coffee and it is always fresh. So, pull up a chair and sit a while.

At the end of my life, I don’t want my epitaph to say, “He spent a lot of time at the office” or “He was a dedicated drone who worked tirelessly even to the point of alienation of those closest to him.” Yet, I do my wife to know that she is not just my wife but my friend also. I want my son to know that I will always be proud of him, that I believe in him greatly, and that I will always have time for him. If you have noticed “the sin of busyness” in your life and you are willing to put things back into perspective, I invite to you to come on in.