Wednesday, May 28, 2008
1. I watched American Idol on TV. I don't know why I've been so hooked, I really don't listen to the music they sing, but I have a strong competitive urge, so I tend to enjoy contests.
2. Same with Can You Duet?, which is now airing on one of the country music channels. Although I no longer listen to country music, back in my younger days when all the kids my age were listening to rock, I was listening to Conway and Loretta.
3. I cry at sad movies. Please don't tell my friends about this, as I don't want them to question my masculinity.
4. I didn't go on the diet I had planned to at the first of the year. I know you noticed, and I noticed you noticing.
5. My dear friend, Pastor Joey Turner and I like to "beat" each other... again, it's the competitive juices we have. We did the go cart thing at one of the fun tracks a few years ago, and he beat me. But I slowed down so that I would be in front of him, and had one of my guys take a picture, with my hand held up showing a 1. We put it on the overhead and I claimed I had won. But in reality I didn't. He almost lapped me. The reason I bring this up after several years have passed is that we continue to rehearse it as if it were yesterday, and I feel I must come clean. I must get this load off me, but only to you. *If Pastor Joey finds out, it will be another 5 years of constant bragging. He doesn't read blogs, nor emails. I am not sure he even reads at all. So if he finds out about my confessional, I will know you told him.
That's it for today. No more confessions for another day or so. I hope you don't disown me for not being so perfect. But I must tell you, I feel a hundred pounds lighter now. Maybe I won't have to worry about that diet after all.
*Upon thinking about this "confession" I decided I might need to follow up on this particular one. Pastor Joey Turner and I are dearest friends. Our hearts are knit, and I would never do anything or say anything to dishonor him. This blog is just an attempt to inject some humor into my world, and to the readers of my blog. However, I realize that not all those who read know me personally, so I wanted to address this particular comment.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
As we wrap up the spring calendar at NHC, we had several koinonia events: The Easter Eggstravaganza- a community event, free of charge to the families. We had a great turnout, and it was a great outreach for the kids and families of the area. We also have our first ever car show. Wow, another great opportunity of outreach. This event was planned as a fundraiser for our building renovations, but what a tool for community relationship building. The event exceeded my imagination, and brought a great crowd to our doorstep- some of who are now attending church here. Then, a couple of weeks ago, the ladies had another great koinonia event- Their second annual ladies brunch. Although I did not attend the event, I do have access through the pictures. It is very apparent that more great fellowship resulted in this event, which was also a fundraiser.
Our kick off to summer activities began this past Sunday, when we took a group to Spartanburg, to Funbees Park. Everyone seemed to enjoy their time together there-- another opportunity to fellowship, and also to invite guests who came with their kids to attend New Harvest. There are plenty more events in the planning right now, so stay tuned!
In addition to the fellowship opportunities through activities and events, there is some Divine Fellowship going on right now. There seems to be something brewing in the Spirit, and I believe God is doing something intimately among us. Testimonies in the past few days go like, "the church prayed, and the report that had indicated something came back negative." Another one like, "I saw an angel in church Wednesday night", and "there seemed to be so much unity in the service Sunday. It was as if we were one." God is bringing us together in the Spirit. There is a Holy Spirit koinonia taking place.
I am excited about the fellowship of the saints, and the fellowship of the Spirit. Come and join us for some kononia.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
This is Memorial Day weekend. It is called the kick off to Summer, although summer doesn't officially begin until 3 more weeks. Memorial Day is tomorrow. The day is set aside to honor those who have served our nation in the military, and who sacrificed their lives for our freedom. We honor them today and tomorrow, and we pay our respects. We are here today because of brave men and women who have laid their all on the line.
We have some special things going on today at NHC. The Kondas Family, from Statesville NC, will be with us again, ministering in song. Jim and Karen are special friends. I had asked them to come in the absence of our worship leader, Dan Thomas. He and his wife Kelly (and little Emily) have been out of town on some family business and recreation the last couple of Sundays. The Kondas' have helped us in both filling in on the praise team, and leading and singing songs of their own. They told us that there is a possibility today that their son and daughter in law, Daniel and Holly, may be with them. YAY!!!
Today also begins an exciting adventure for us. We will introduce Mrs. Jenny Smith to the church as our kids church and youth director. Miss Jenny will work oversee the direction of the teams. She will work with our groups and will strengthen their hands in what they are doing, while at the same time bring new ideas to the table. We believe this step will build the present team to another level, and will bring great excitement to all involved. Get ready to see our kids and youth grow!
I am also doing an illustrated sermon this morning. There is something about visually doing something, that we retain what we see, I think 7 times more. This has been unnannounced, and has been a last minute planning, but I believe it will have an effect. So, I hope you read the blog in the morning, so that you'll be sure to come on and see the illustrated sermon.
Last, and not least, we are going to Funbees Park tonight at 6. Our dear friend, Pastor Ricky Eason, owns and operates this park, in Spartanburg, SC. From inflateables, fishing pond, batting cage, mini golf, go carts, and more-- there will be plenty of fun for everyone. We'll leave from the church at 5:15 PM, and begin with a picnic once there (around 6). The food is free, the cost of the activities is $10 each. Y'all come on out.
Friday, May 23, 2008
What if, for example, in the praise and worship link, instead of saying something like vibrant and lively, it said something like, predictable and without fire. I don't think ours is, I am only making a point. There are some pages of our over 40 plus web pages that I have considered altering, adjusting, or simply deleting. And some of them I have. Others are getting there- the men's group might not be the mighty warriors advertized, but I believe we're moving in that direction.
So instead of altering things to the level of productivity, we maintain our vision level, our faith level. No, we are not perfect. Yes, we may be somewhat less than advertised in the natural in some areas. But this is our purpose, our passion, our resolve. We will settle for nothing less.
We are called to a spirit of excellence. We purpose to be second to none. Our kids deserve it, our youth deserve it, every area of church life deserves it. So we keep reaching, keep adjusting, and make changes when needed.
As the old sign says, Be patient. God isn't finished with me (us) yet. We're not coming down to the what is level, we're progressing to the vision of God level.
We invite you to visit with us. If, upon attending, you see something not as advertised, it is because all of the parts have not yet come in- you are a link and a part of the part that makes us complete. Welcome aboard, and get ready to work:)
Y'all be blessed!
Thursday, May 22, 2008
A horrible tragedy befell the family of Christian music singer Steven Curtis Chapman on Tuesday when the Grammy-winner's five-year-old daughter Maria was killed in a tragic accident at their Nashville-area home.According to reports, Chapman's daughter Maria Sue was struck in the driveway by an SUV driven by the singer's teen son, who apparently did not see the child. The injured child was rushed to nearby Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where she was later declared deceased.Maria Sue was the youngest of Steven and wife Mary Beth's six children. Like two of her other siblings, Maria had been adopted by the family from China. The couple founded the charitable organization Shaohannah's Hope to help assist others in giving second chances to children around the world in need of adoption.
Steven's songs have been gospel music lover favorites for the past 2 decades. He has modeled Christian love and living. Our prayers go out to the Steven Curtis Chapman family.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
So today I have a second blog, and it's only 9 AM. Watching SportCenter and catching up on overnight sports news, I saw where Jon Lester pitched a no hitter last night for the Boston Red Sox. If you are not up on baseball, you may not know that pitching a no hitter is a rare feat. Some of the greatest pitchers of all time never produced a no hitter. What is more amazing is the story behind this story.
Somewhere in the late summer/early fall of 2006, it was discovered that Jon had lymphoma cancer. The name cancer is one of the most feared that I know. It takes young and old. It's grasp has no boundaries. My mother in law passed away 9 years ago with cancer. Our church participates annually in the National Cancer Society Relay for Life. We have had members pass away with cancer, and we have had survivors of cancer. We have some who are presently battling the disease. Now, back to Jon.
He received treatments for his lymphoma. Lymphoma has several stages, I think 4, but I am not sure. Each higher stage means the risk factor is higher and the percentage of survival is lower. I am not sure what stage Jon had, but he went through his treatment, and it was successful. Last year during the World Series, he was scheduled to pitch when Boston's scheduled pitcher, Tim Wakefield, could not because of an ailing shoulder. Lester was injected into the game, and won the clinching game of the World Series. And now, the no hitter.
Talk about a comeback! I just felt inspired to blog today to those of you who may have gone through something that set you back. It might have been a relationship that went bad, a marriage or friendship. It may have been loss of job, loss of loved ones to premature death. You may feel emotionally, physically, and spiritually bankrupt. You may be facing a disease that threatens your existence. But God allows comebacks. It is not over for you. As long as you have faith and determination, you can arise again, and succeed.
While thinking about Jon Lester, I can't help but thinking about my son in law, Michael Armstrong. 3 years ago Michael discovered he had lymphoma, stage 4. He underwent numerous treatments, with very little success. He and my daughter Tina have had ups and downs through the process, but have fought and endured. Through a lot of trials and tears, prayers and fears, they have withstood this thing. Michael continues to receive treatment, but treatment has now been positive, and the outlook is looking better each day!
I just want to tell you that comebacks are possible. Dreams can come true. They did for Jon Lester. They can for you!
A guy in South Carolina just won a $35 million powerball lottery. He said it was his first time to play the lottery, and God told him the numbers. Wow, I didn't know God was into the lottery.
It reminds me of a couple or so years ago when a member of the Church of God, I think somewhere in Illinois, won the lottery. He was going to tithe to his church. Several pastors were heard to say that it was tainted money, and a church member shouldn't be gambling. Ron Carpenter, of Redemption World Outreach, said, "It 'taint enough".
Channel 7 morning news, where I heard the story, said that after taxes, the man would receive around $17 million. That is over half that goes to Uncle Sam. Now, I know Uncle Sam needs his money to run the government and keep the roads going, but I think he may be spending too much of our hard earned money to protect spotted owls or assist in some pork barrell project. People grumble in church about giving 10%, and yet the government gets 50. At any rate, seventeen million is a lot more than I will see in a lifetime, and I wouldn't mind inheriting or winning that kind of loot. I probably won't ever gamble, other than buying a raffle ticket for a civic or church event. I did win $50 one time back a number of years ago when Pepsi was having that thing with winning numbers on bottle caps. But I was drinking the pepsi with or without the bottle cap number, so I didn't consider it gambling.
I'm not sure if the lottery winner is in church, but if not, and you can send him this blog, I would gladly accept the tenth. I don't care if it is tainted money or not, cause I 'taint got enough. I would prefer him to tithe off the top, but if he wants to tithe off the net, I will accept that. Just send the check to New Harvest, at....
Y'all be blessed!
Sunday, May 18, 2008
It would have ended at the point with me, regardless. If I have any problems with Senator Obama, it would be on his policies, and not on his skin color. A black man that is qualified is no less deserving of the position than a white man. Race and skin tone have nothing to do with it.
I walked away thinking of how much prejudice continues to exist, especially here in the south. And I thought of narrow minded thinking, especially among the white males of the boomer and up generation.
God deliver us from narrow minded people who wouldn't vote for a man because of his color.
This in no way implies I am supporting Senator Obama. I am just fed up with bigotry.
That's it for tonight.
And so I find myself at points in the journey wishing, hoping, and praying. Wishing I had more funds and resources, hoping someone or something will come along, and praying that it will happen. Yeah, I know that it doesn't seem spiritual or a faith thing. And I am sometimes judged by the city boys who have no problems in the financial arena.
It is not a complaint, just a statement. I need some more provision. There's some vision here in Forest City. But I need a millionaire or two. Gosh, I would just take a couple of more tithers.
Sometimes there are divine appointments, where paths cross and doors open. It seems to be one is lingering before me now. There is an opportunity which I feel would greatly strengthen our ministry base.
Y'all help me pray, and believe. It would also help to give. You might be the hand of God that brings provision for the vision.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Sunday, May 11, 2008
I am thankful for my mom. Mom is an inspiration to me, and to my two brothers and sisters. She is also a blessing to the church, and to all who know her. I am also appreciative of the mother of my children. Trish is the most precious woman in the world. God gave me a precious gift when He blessed me with her. She is truly a Proverbs 31 woman.
We went by and saw Trish's mom yesterday. It was not the visit that Trish and I enjoy. Mary passed away nine years ago. Celebrating mother's day is a little difficult for those whose moms are no longer with us. So, as we celebrate our mothers, let us pause to remember those passed on.
I hope all moms today have a blessed day!
Thursday, May 8, 2008
At the bottom of the home page I have a video from youtube. There are about a dozen songs loaded there. I figured someone might want some good worship music as they checked us out, and so I put it there. I change the songs occasionally, but haven't done so in several weeks.
I'm sitting here, getting ready to look some things up on the internet. The church website, www.newharvestonline.com is my home page. So when it came up, I saw an odd looking sight at the bottom where the youtube is. I am not sure who it was. It was apparently some rap singer or something, but I didn't take time to check it out. It was more than likely nasty, but I didn't take time to see. I frantically went to my youtube account to see if anything had changed there. No, nothing had changed. It was someone hacking directly into my website software. How they did it, I do not know. I hurriedly went to the program for editing, and had begun the process, when, mysteriously, the youtube was back to normal.
I guess some nerd/genius got a good laugh. Ha, ha. You did it. I bow to your nerdity and to your lack of conscience for messing around a God thing. You see, our website is more than about what we do. It is 41 pages of ministry, activities, fun, fellowship, God.
So, the next time you see something that looks weird or ugly... It's probably some hacker sitting somewhere getting a good laugh.
The good news is that God loves hackers. He'll forgive you for intruding on another's property and stealing their material to put yours there. We forgive you, too.
That's it for tonight-
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
The pressures sometimes get to me. Attempting to lead a congregation, and to keep people stirred up and on fire for God is an awesome task. When people worship the Lord and are supportive, there is nothing better. But like Moses, when people are grumbling and divisive, it can weigh you down...
Which leads me to my thought this morning, and I hope to encourage you with it-- EVERYONE NEEDS SOME MORNING SUGAR. I will get several "kisses" today: My beautiful wife of 37 years will awaken in a few minutes from the time I am blogging this. I will get what I call some morning sugar from her. It will just be a little kiss, and I will say something like "good morning, Sunshine, or good morning, Pretty Girl." (my pet names for her). The morning kiss from Trish will help establish my day. Her support and love for me mean everything. My morning sugar help kick start my day. When I am going through something, when I am facing trials and persecutions, the morning kiss means, I am here with you, and we can make it.
Shortly, I will go down to feed the labrador retriever I got for my grandson's 4th birthday. (more on Zach in a moment). I will then put Buster on a lease and we will do our morning walk. While playing with him, I will get about a dozen kisses, licks, sugars. I really don't want them, he has doggie breath, but he is intent on making me know I am loved. Although messy and stinky, I will admit I have grown fond of my Buster kisses.
I am fortunate to get some other morning sugars: At some point this morning I will head up to the church. My grandson, Zach attends our daycare. He is typically in school there until after lunch when he comes home. I may be out running errands, but I will run by the church. I've got to get my morning sugar from Zach. Now 4 years old, he brightens my life. Zachary will come running to me when I pop my head into the door of his class in the daycare, and I will get some sugar from him. Then all his class will join in. Before I have left the daycare, I will check on things and say hello to the teachers and staff. Other little ones will see me, and some of them want some sugar as well. What a great thing! To be blessed with the love of the children.
There's another kiss that I want to make sure I get every day. It's the kiss of heaven. As I sit here praying and meditating before the Lord, I am seeking direction. A couple of things are weighing in on me. I feel a morning kiss. I sense a voice saying, It's going to be alright. I can work it out. It's not an audible voice, but one that is very real nonetheless. The kiss of God is on me today. A fresh touch of heaven fills my life. Thank you, Lord, for my morning sugar. I need it to start the day.
You may not have a spouse, your grandkids may be grown and living away, and you may not have a pet dog. For that matter, you may feel alone this morning-- but you are not. The same God that is here with me in 1790 Harris Henrietta Road knows your address. Whether an apartment, a senior citizen home, or a prison cell. Whether serving in a foreign country in the military or a missionary in a third world land. You can't get too far that He doesn't know, and that He can't come. I think He's there with you now-- waiting for you to receive some morning sugar.
Y'all be blessed!
Saturday, May 3, 2008
My faith in a God who loved me so much He gave His only son to die for my sins. I love the Lord, He has been so good to me! I don't know how people make it without Jesus, especially in times like these. God has brought me through so many things. The old hymn, Amazing Grace, says it so well... through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come. Tis grace has brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home. I am glad that I am saved by faith, and not my works.
My family is everything to me. The Lord has blessed me with the most precious and beautiful wife in the world. God knew I would need someone who could put up with me, help me, and stand along beside me. He gave me a Proverbs 31 woman. And I am thankful for my kids. We have 4 beautiful kids, 3 sons and a daughter. They are blessings to us. Sometimes I forget to tell them. I love them with all my heart. And that grandson, Zach. He stole my heart, somehow, from the day he was announced. And when he was born until this day, 4 years later, he has been my best friend. Family is important. I love and thank God for my mom and dad. They are wonderful people, and I love my sisters and brothers.
My friends are vital to me. I thank God for relationships in my life. They are people of faith, they are extended family, and they are my friends. My church family is there for me. I enjoy being a pastor to them, and I enjoy their friendship. Just as valuable and vital are others who, although not in our church family, and important to us. We laugh together, have fun, and yes, sometimes cry on one another's shoulders. Thanks for giving us the opportunity to just be ourselves.
I don't know why, I just got a little sentimental this afternoon. I wanted to say these things. I am so blessed to have my faith, my family, and my friends.
YOU MAY BE GOING THROUGH SOMETHING TODAY, AND FEEL ALL ALONE. YOU MAY THINK NO ONE CARES. I WANT TO ENCOURAGE YOU. GOD LOVES YOU, AND WE LOVE YOU. HANG IN THERE, YOU CAN MAKE IT. IF YOU NEED US, GIVE US A CALL.
Your faith filled family member and friend,
Thursday, May 1, 2008
A pretty common thing is for cars to go by and blow their horn at us. It is someone who knows us, and the horn blowing is a form of southern hospitality. It is like a handshake via the car. Or it is like saying hello, or how are you doing... a form of greeting.
The problem is, we hardly ever recognize who is blowing the horn and waving at us. So we will just wave back, wondering and asking aloud, who was that? Unless we recognize the car as belonging to someone we know, we hardly ever know who is giving us a shout via the horn blowing and wave.
I am glad for friends unknown who shout hello as they pass by. There are some of you who drop by our website or my blog from time to time. You are interested in our goings on and my thoughts. A blog is a smorgasbord of opinions, thoughts, and feelings. Sometimes they are positive, sometimes they are humorous, and sometimes they are reflective of what is going on. I have on a couple of times gotten a little too serious and a little too reflective. I plan on lighting up a little. A little smile, and little how are you, and a little horn blowing will do us all some good. So I am sending out some southern hospitality to you today.
How are you? I hope you're doing well. It's good to see you. Come back now, you hear?
Write me and tell me what you think about my blogs or what you would like to hear about.