Monday, January 3, 2011

Technology Dependece Therapy...

Are Americans too technologically dependent?

This past Sunday a "glitch" occurred that has never happened in my many years of ministry - I slept in! That's right, I slept until 7:32 AM when my wife awoke, looked at the clock and said, "Byron, it's 7:32." The first panicked words out of my mouth were "Oh my dear Lord Jesus!" Why the panic? Because our early service begins at 8:00, because it takes 15 minutes to drive from my house to the church, because I look really bad in the mornings when I awake and therefore need a shower and because I pride myself on being Mr. Punctual. In an instant our house became a scene from the movie Home Alone when they slept in and almost missed their trip to Paris. I grabbed my iPhone and told Andi to start calling my minister of music or whoever she could get to tell them that I was going to be late. Of course, they may have figured this out already when they arrived and my car wasn't there because I am always the first at church every Sunday.

What happened? The entire 20 minutes I got ready to leave I asked myself that question. I couldn't figure how this could have happened. How could I have been so tired that I slept through my alarm? I wasn't! How could I have failed to set my alarm? I didn't! How could I have not checked my alarm to make sure it was set? I did! What could have happened? What sin did I need to confess for God to allot this punishment to me? How was I going to enter the church service late and not be seen? I can't! My anxiety was through the roof and I wanted to throw up!

I arrived at the church at 8:15, grabbed my sermon outline and walked into the service at 8:17 to a round of applause. Oh there might have been one or two who were thinking "I'm glad you could see fit to join us pastor!" But most seemed took a good-natured approach to the realization that their pastor had clay feet and was far from perfection. Of course, to add insult to injury, I knew I had to address it in our late service because the word would spread and it needed to be cut off before it reached wildfire proportions. And the joking began.

But redemption is sweet! Later that morning others began to share with me how their iPhone failed them as well and they overslept. I logged onto Facebook that afternoon and numerous others were talking about their iPhone alarm failure. All of a sudden I didn't feel nearly as bad; I felt the power of redemption. It wasn't me after all. I had done everything right, following the same Saturday night routine I had followed for years. It was the phone - a piece of technology made out of plastic and silicone. Even the NY Times reported on this widespread technological malfunction that wreaked havoc around the world (

That brings me back to the original question - are we too technologically dependent. The answer for all is "yes" but there is little to nothing we can do about it. We are stuck. Computers, Smart Phones, Hi-Speed Internet, syncing and interfacing are all techno driven and are here to stay. As a result, I am pondering whether to start a new ministry at FBC-Odessa called "TDT - Technology Dependence Therapy" because I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who needs a 12 step program for technology dependence. So if you are interested, give us a call, you'll be glad you did.

But first I'm going to set my 20 year old digital alarm clock that does not interface with anything because I never want to feel that sense of Sunday morning panic again!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Celebration, World Mission Offering & Christmas Eve...

I hope you are ready for Christmas. It is only 3 days away so if you have not bought that final gift, it is time to get on the ball. We are so looking forward to Christmas morning at the McWilliams' house.

2010 Christmas Celebration
If you were unable to attend the 2010 Christmas Celebration you truly missed a blessing. Next to the first performance at the Ector County Coliseum, this was my most favorite. We had record attendance in our 5 performances. Each performance was full to overflowing with the final one Sunday night being a totally packed house. It is impossible to tell how many people came to Christ, but there is no doubt God used the work of so many to advance His Kingdom. A huge thank you goes out to every person involved in making this year's Christmas Celebration so fantastic!

World Missions Offering
Are you ready for this? The world missions offering goal for FBC Odessa was $440,00 for 2010. As of this date we have collected over $540,000 - that is more than $100,000 in excess of the goal. Wow! God is so good and worthy of all praise! There is truly no limit to what can be done when God is being honored and His people are faithful.

Christmas Eve at FBC-Odessa
Just a reminder that our Christmas Eve service will be Friday night from 6:00 to 7:00. We will observe the Lord's Supper and close the night lighting candles. Please make your plans to attend. You will be glad you did.

January is going to be an incredible month at First Baptist Church. We will reintroduce the plans for a new sanctuary to the faith family and will be voting on January 30th as a body to determine our next step. Please begin to pray for God's will to be done in this matter.

Have a Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

World Missions Offering

Here's the latest on the FBC-Odessa World Mission Offering. The goal was $440,000 and as of this morning we have received (drum roll please!)...


What a fantastic missions-minded faith family is FBC-Odessa! You did a great job and together we are playing our part in advancing the Kingdom of God throughout the world. I love and appreciate you. I'm honored to be your pastor.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wednesday Updates...

Good morning. Just a few updates for some of the happenings at FBC-Odessa.

World Missions Offering
FBC Odessa, you are incredible! As of Tuesday afternoon we have collected contributions totalling $439,600 toward our World Missions Offering goal of $440,000. There is no doubt in my mind we will reach our goal and probably before Sunday. Incredible job FBC-Odessa! Your love for missions is wonderful. I am honored to be your pastor.

2011 Budget Discussion
Tonight in the fellowship hall we will discuss the 2011 budget from 5:30-6:00. If you have already received your copy of the budget overview you will have noted that we are not increasing the budget at all. In fact, we are reducing the budget by a slight amount. Thank you for your faithful giving to the Kingdom work being done at FBC.

Christmas Blitz Update
Yes, we did it! All 10,000 candy canes have been delivered to homes in Odessa. As of Tuesday morning the church family had delivered 9,400. To complete the goal some of the ministers on staff met at the westside Wal-Mart and handed out the remaining 600 invitations. FBC you did a phenomenal job in coming together to accomplish this goal! I love and appreciate you for rising to the occasion!

Permian Basin Christmas Celebration
Tickets are going fast. Some of the 5 services are already full. If you have not picked up your tickets yet, you need to get with it quickly. Please be in prayer for this great event. God is on the move and we are getting to be part of His work.

Have a great rest of the week. Only two more Wednesdays left in 2010. Have you been thinking about some new and fresh goals for 2011?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Sunday Thoughts and World Missions Offering...

Yesterday at FBC was another wonderful day of worship. The sanctuary is in shambles due to the preparation for our annual Christmas Celebration coming this weekend but the good people of FBC have learned to take the disruptions in stride. We had a number of decisions yesterday. God is so good!

World Mission Sunday
Yesterday was our in-gathering for our World Mission Offering. We take one missions offering a year so as to not be hitting our folks up multiple times throughout. Our goal for 2010 was $440,000. Yesterday we received $426,000 making us just $14,000 short of the goal as of yet.  If past history is any indicator of the future, we will probably meet our goal before next Sunday and certainly before December 31. From your pastor, I want to say a HUGE thank you to all who gave to world missions at FBC-Odessa! I love you guys.

We have one of the biggest weeks of the year ahead as we prepare for the Christmas Celebration. I'm praying God's huge blessing on every person involved. I'm believing God for a greater Celebration than any other because of all the hard work of so many FBC folks who are getting the word out. You guys are great!

Oh yeah, I updated my profile picture with a family shot. My wife and kids sure help me look better!

Have a good week!

Candy Cane Blitz Update

Last night many of the faith family at FBC-Odessa assembled again to knock on doors inviting people to attend the Christmas Celebration this coming Friday - Sunday. As of today we have hit about 8,500 doors on our way to 10,000. Tonight is the final night and it is gonna be a blast!

Come on out FBC and let's get it done!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Candy Cane Blitz @ FBC-Odessa

For the past two evenings FBC-Odessa has gathered to go out into our community on what we are calling the "Candy Cane Blitz." We set a goal to knock on 10,000 doors in four nights in Odessa inviting the residents to our annual Christmas Celebration. Yes, that's right, 10,000 doors. After Sunday and Monday nights we have exceeded our expectations and have hit over 6,500 doors. Next Sunday and Monday will be our final two nights and I have no doubt we will meet our goal.

To all of the wonderful people at FBC-Odessa who have walked down streets knocking on doors - THANK YOU! To all of you who tied the plastic cards to the candy canes - THANK YOU! And to everyone else who played a role in the success of this event, regardless of how small it may have been - THANK YOU!

I love you guys and praise God for the opportunity to be your pastor. Now let's continue to pray for God's blessings on all of the hard work. It will happen because God always rewards our work for His Kingdom.

Have a great day!