Monday, September 29, 2008


Wow! We had two awesome services this past Sunday at New Harvest. Our morning service featured the group "Called." Daniel, Holly, Josh, and Michael took us into the presence of the Lord with their singing and music. The entire church enjoyed their songs. Then, Josh Bunton preached the word, and challenged us to reach for our destiny in God. It was a powerful service.

We had a chance to fellowship at lunch with the team, and they had some of their family and friends with them. The pizza we ordered took forever, but I believe it was a God thing, as we were able to have some good fellowship time. Thanks, y'all we were so blessed!

The Sunday night service was another powerful time, as my dear friend, Pastor Joey Turner, preached an awesome word. Many were ministered in the service, and two gave their hearts to the Lord, others were stirred and touched in different ways.

Our youth dance and drama team performed in both services, and they did a great job. We had good turnouts for both services. I appreciate everyone who came out and supported them. We are looking for more of the same. Join us this week for some more awesome services!

Thursday, September 25, 2008


I'm losing ten thousand dollars... and so are you. That is, if the proposed bail out goes through. The economic experts tell us we cannot afford NOT to go through with it. They say the consequences of failure to act will result in the possibility of another great depression. We've actually already lost some money, so the ten grand is on top of that. The buyout of the AIG insurance deal cost the U.S. taxpayer $425. $10,425.00 is a hunk of change for us little folks.

I want to know where these "experts" have been hiding. I guess in their luxurious ocean front homes in Barbados or somewhere. They surely haven't been living here in the real world. Say it fast, say it slow. Say it any way you want to. Ten thousand dollars added to a household struggling to make ends meet is too much. No, I don't have all the facts, and no, I am not an economic expert. This may be the solution, I don't know. I do hope the politicians of both parties will get together and work towards a solution we can live with.

In Rutherford County, we just had another plant close down of 470 jobs. Those paychecks created other jobs in the community. They are gone. As I said in my prior blog, this effects everyone around them. I didn't lose a job, but I will lose some tithes and offerings, which is how the church operates. No, it's not about me, but it does affect me- and it affects you, too.

Ten thousand... boy, I sure could use the money I just lost. There goes that Harley I was wanting. Or that vacation to Hawaii. Or pay some bills off. Maybe buy some gas... Have you ever seen one of those programs where they light money with a match? That's what I feel I've done. I've just torched ten one thousand dollar bills. It went so fast I didn't even see it.

This is for our own good, they say. Like, eat your spinach. It will help you build muscles. I never ate a spinach I liked.. not spinach casserole, not spinach anything. For your own good. Like the whippin' you got as a child. You will appreciate this later, they said. I never remember the later when I appreciated a good spanking, although I did pass some of those kind of blessings on to my own kids. But I do realize now that the whippings were to bring about discipline in my life, which helped me make right decisions. So I guess this ten grand spinach/whippin' is working in us a greater glory.

My ten thousand dollars I just lost that I never got to hold will help Wall Street, which will help us all. OK, so now I am for it. I believe in kickin in my part. What's ten thousand to someone like you and me? We'll never miss it :)

Obama's health care program just got kicked to the curb. It may not have happened anyway, but the likelihood is greatly reduced now. He has already admitted that if he is elected, some of the things he has proposed will probably be put on hold.

Hallelujah, anyhow! In spite of this mess, we're gonna make it. Hang in, hold on, we shall survive.

On the serious side, our economy needs a jolt, and is in danger of meltdown. Although this is way over my head, I understand that something has to be done. At this moment the politicians are trying to figure out if they can work out a deal. Like me, thousands of Americans are concerned about spending 700 billion to 1 trillion dollars on bad deals made by greedy companies. This blog is a light hearted jest, but all of us realize drastic steps must be taken

Pastor Ronnie


Hanesbrands, Inc, known locally as National Textiles, announced abruptly the closing of it's Forest City plant, employing 470 people. The plant closing affects others in the area, including the town of Forest City, which supplied water and sewer to the plant. More job losses will surely result because of this plant shutdown.

One young man being interviewed on WLOS TV 13 in Asheville about the situation said he was moving out. His decision to leave the county follows a trend of many of our citizens, particularly of the college age - thirties group.

The local economy, which is already in terrible condition, continue to deteriorates. Every segment is affected, from the workplace, to the market place, to the church. Gas stations are with no gas, and those who do so with gas priced at $4.25 and up. Duke Power has announced a rate increase, and our dollar continues to shrink. Our church receives requests daily for assistance financially, which we are unable to provide.

This message is not intended to bring despair, but to turn our hearts to God in prayer. Join us in praying for our local economy, and for the national economy.

Monday, September 22, 2008


Just three little words. Yet, we sometimes have difficulty saying it or expressing it. Especially men, it seems. I've noticed in our church daycare, it is expressed regularly. Our teachers express it to the children, the children to the teachers and directors, and the staff to one another. A teacher will be leaving her shift, and will say "I love you." And, truth is, they don't just say the words, they live them. They actually enjoy the workplace, the kids, and each other. I went by one evening last week, and there sat a former teacher. She had left, with our blessings, to take another job that paid her considerably more. But it seems she comes by regularly, sometimes before work, and sometimes after work. She misses the kids, misses the teachers, misses us. Making more money, but something is missing... Love is a strange thing, isn't it?

I was talking to my dad the other day on the phone. It was apparent our conversation was ending, and he said, "I love you." I know he does, but is sounded rather strange, coming from him. The fact is, my wife tells me that I don't say those words enough to my kids, or to my family.

I don't want to miss the opportunity to encourage someone with love. I know life is too short, things are changing, and there are things we take for granted. Someone needs your encouragement, your smile, your friendship. Someone needs you to take their hand and hold them, to carry their groceries, or to prepare them a meal. Someone today needs your prayers, and needs your gift.

If you haven't said it today, say it now. If you haven't shown it, do so now. Love is an act. If you haven't had a hug, hug yourself, and accept it as being from me.
Love and Hugs from us,
Pastors Ronnie and Trish

Friday, September 19, 2008


The big news on the morning networks is of the possible government intervention of all the banks and institutions which are about to go bankrupt. Seems Uncle Sam has decided to reward all the slothful investments, the luxurious lifestyles of the executives, and raise our taxes several trillion dollars or so. They tell us this will stabilize our economy. Go ahead, take another bite out of my check, if it will help feed the orphans in... er, uh, the executives on some remote island.

But the real news to me is the disappearing of milk chocolate. It seems Hershey has replaced cocoa butter (milk chocolate) with vegetable oil in most of it's products. The Hershey Bar and Kisses are so far ok, but everything else is substitute. The Mr. GoodBar is now the used to be GoodBar, as well as its other brands. Hershey's, in an attempt to preserve its profits, decided to replace the chocolate with the fake stuff, without telling us.

The labels on their candy that state milk chocolate have been replaced with the words candy chocolate, or chocolatey. The FDA will not allow the word milk chocolate without the cocoa butter. We would not have known, had not this lady who eats a bunch every day and writes about it noticed the difference, and they featured her on the morning news. I thought my taste buds were gone south with my age. But now I find, they changed the ingredients without telling me.

This news about the economy and fake chocolate is too much. I am so depressed I think I'm going to go eat a candy bar. No, wait a minute, that won't work.

What's next? Taking the coffee out of my coffee?

That's it for today. Y'all be blessed. We're going to make it. God is still God, and He is still good!

Thursday, September 18, 2008


The turmoil caused by the recent hurricane Ike has brought about gas price hikes and stations around here running out. I live about 7 miles from the church I pastor, and noticed 3 stations out this past Sunday. Those three stations were actually within a couple of miles of where I live, and were three of those who had the highest price of gasoline. Ingle's Market tanks are still empty as I write this blog, having run out a day after the initial impact.
The empty tanks bring concern, and in some cases, panic. Trips have been canceled, plans affected, and driving habits changed as a result of the high price and temporary shortage of gas.
Like our need for gasoline, we need some spiritual gas in our tanks. I am afraid many of us have run low or are out. We need the anointing of God in our lives, our homes, our churches. Without the direction of the Holy Spirit, we are in a mess. May we realize our spiritual need, and "tank up." Unlike the petroleum issues we currently face, God's gas is plentiful, and free of charge. I remember the time we called what now is mostly convenience stores, "filling stations". Thank God, there are filling stations scattered throughout the region. So come on by the church, and get filled up today!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


The pictures here are of Michael and Zach, my son in law and my grandson. Both of them have had frequent mentions in my blogs. Michael is currently undergoing treatments for a stem cell transplant he received at Duke Medical Center. The pictures of Michael and Zach were taken during our family vacation, at the end of June. The next week Michael began his preparational treatments for the transplant. His brother, Aaron, donated his stem cells for the transplant, and was at Duke initially.
We miss Michael, and will be glad when he is able to come home. Zach is missing Michael, and says to tell him that he loves him a lot.
Thanks, everyone, for your continued prayers for Michael and Tina, and for all the family. Having your prayers and kind thoughts have strengthened us (the family) , and them.
I have posted a link to the caringbridge site at the bottom of this blog page.
Pastor Ronnie

Monday, September 15, 2008


Sad news comes to the Christian community involving Contemporary Christian singer and songwriter Ray Boltz. Although Ray has been retired for several years now, his songs remain favorites of many segments of Christiandom. Ray has sold 4.5 million records .

He announced this past Friday to the gay magazine, Washington Blade, that he is gay. Boltz said that he told family and close friends in December 2004, but only now decided to go public with the news. One reason he decided to come out now might be because he's singing at gay churches.

Boltz is perhaps best known for his song "Thank You," about a dream in which a Christian thanks the Sunday school teacher who led him to Jesus. It was the GMA song of the year in 1990. Other Boltz hits include "Watch the Lamb," "The Anchor Holds," and "I Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb."

Boltz is a father of four who was married for 33 years before officially divorcing his wife this year.


No pain, no gain... We've heard the slogan many times. Without pain, we will not experience gain. In exercise, and in sports, we're told to push it to the limit- that when we are hurting, we are conditioning ourselves for our best. I remember a few years ago when I went on a weight loss program. The discipline of restraint, exercise, and eating proper foods enabled me to reach my goal. My gain was in my loss (weight loss), but it required pain to get there. The pain for me was the denial of sugar, sweets, bread, and all the southern cooking I've been accustomed to all my life. I need to go through that same process again, as I have retreated to the old lifestyle choices and put the pounds back on. But my point here is that without a process of pain (discipline) I would not have been able to be successful in my venture.

I find life is sometimes that way. In our personal experiences, our homes, marriages, and even in our churches. We are often faced with times of adversity. A physical sickness, a job loss, a crisis in a home, or even in a church. Those times leave even the strong in faith with doubts. They don't look the same, nor act the same. My son in law is going through a major disease of cancer. He is into the second month of his treatment of a stem cell transplant. Michael desperately misses people and is ready to get out of there- but he also has gone through a time when he did not want to be seen. A rash covering his body, extreme weight loss, and just the overall feeling has left him wanting to be in seclusion during this time. I remember my wife, after surgery a number of years ago, waking up in her hospital room to find a deacon of the church setting in her room. I had gone out to run some errands, and she was nautious. She was very uncomfortable being seen in that condition.

I have felt that way at times in church. Being a pastor for the past thirty five years, I have seen the pendulum swing both ways- the up seasons, and the down seasons. A church can go through transition. It can lose members, which causes its operating budget to fall. This, as a result, can affect how it looks and the flow of the services. You will find that people who can handle your health cannot handle your sickness. There are people that are your friends when you are happily married that become distant when you are divorced. And there are those who are "sent" to your church when it is on the up side that will "run" from it when it is going through a down cycle. The pastor is the same, the vision is the same, the building is the same, but people that run with you on your strength sometimes will not do so on your weakness.

I'll confess to you that I cannot always see the gain out of the pain. Romans 8:28 says "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." I love God and trust Him, but there are times when I have difficulty seeing how gain can come out of the pain. Did God cause the pain? Is that what this verse is saying? Or, is it saying that He will simply turn around every situation and make it work for our good? That is what I get out of this verse. God didn't cause the sickness, the divorce, the split, or whatever you're going through. But if you'll look to Him, He will bring you through it. And the pain of the test will serve to make you stronger. Remember, there is no testimony without a test.

I've been teaching a series on Sundays for the last several weeks about building leaders for kingdom ministry. As Christians, we have a call to reach the world. Jesus has given us the Great Commission. I have challenged our people to live a disciplined life according to the lifestyle of Christ. This means giving up your right to be right. It means denying yourself of some things. Jesus taught his disciples not only kingdom ministry, but kingdom living.

Yeah, there will always be some that can only handle our gain. I've had them that flew through here and thought we were the best thing since sliced bread, then came back through and saw some pooh pooh, and they kept on truckin'. I'll tell you the truth, there are some Sundays when I think we can almost raise the dead, and then there are some Sundays when I think everyone is dead. There are some days when I wish we had TV cameras, and then there are days when I want to turn the lights out and go home. But church, as in life has both pain and gain. If you can't handle my pain, you might want to move out of the way. I may be waxing eloquent this Sunday, or I may be upchucking. That's life, and if you'r e looking for perfection, keep on looking.

Be encouraged and know that you can make it through whatever you're going through. Don't allow discouragement or disallusionment to steal your dream!

Cyberspace has allowed us to reach around the world, and I don't always know who I relating to. Thanks for reading, and take the time to respond.

Pastor Ronnie

Saturday, September 13, 2008


Search and rescue operations are now going through the areas which have been hit by hurricane Ike. Flooded areas are being searched for any who may not have heeded the call to evacuate. Low lying areas and all land affected are being scanned. Helicopters above and emergency vehicles below are going through the hard hit regions. Their goal is to reach any who are in an unsafe place, and to relocate them.

We are thankful for the coordinated efforts of all agencies to provide assistance. We remember the failings of FEMA, statewide, and regional efforts in the aftermath of Katrina. What was provided came too little too late for many.

The church is in the search and rescue business. Our goal is to locate those in danger, and to take them to a higher place. We want to search for the lost, the wayward, the hurting. We seek to provide spiritual and natural assistance in order to restore life to them. Our efforts are not in vain. They are out there, and they need us to reach them. Each local church needs the participation and involvement of its people to get the job done. Ours, too, is vital. Eternal souls are at stake.


Pastor Ronnie

Thursday, September 11, 2008


September 11, 2001 is a date etched in the history of our nation that we will never forget. The attacks by the terrorists tragically took the lives of three thousand innocent people, and left its mark upon our nation. In fact, over 90 nations lost citizens in the brutal attack.
We remember those who lost loved ones in this tragedy, and we pray for our nation today. Let us remember all who serve in the armed forces, firefighters and emergency personnell, and our country's leaders. Our freedom, which we sometimes take for granted, was bought by the sacrifice of those who have gone before us, and it is kept by those who serve us now.
America needs direction in these tumultious times, and America needs our prayers.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


My 4 year old grandson, Zach, just called me. The circus has come to town, and he went to this evening's showing. Samuel (an "adopted" grandson) from our church also went, and I think his sister Sydney Grace went, as well. The phone rung, and Zach was talking faster than I could listen. He was telling me things he saw, the animals, the flying trapeeze, etc. He told me about the bank robbers stealing gold, and the sheriff catching them. This went on for several minutes, and then he told me, "there was a man there eating fire, and there wasn't any marshmallows". Wow, eating fire without marshmallows! That must have been something to see. The excitement in the boy's voice (my nickname for him -"the boy") was stirring me, and I regretted missing the event of the circus. Zachary spoke for what seemed like 10 minutes to me on the phone before he asked to speak to maw maw. Usually he will speak to me for a couple of minutes and then ask to speak to her. I gave Trish the phone, and he told the whole story again.
My last blog was "Oh what a feeling"! This, I guess, is part 2. I want to encourage you to get excited again about life, living, God, family, friends, fun events. Jesus said "I am come that you might have life and have it more abundantly". (John 10:10) That means have it to the full, overflowing.
I know some of you are facing some difficult things, and I can't imagine the pain you are facing. But I want to encourage you to get excited about coming out of it. Imagine yourself well, free, on the mend, back in the routine of life. And, until then, hold on in faith. In the Philippian jail, Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises unto God (Acts 16). In your most difficult place, try prayer power-- it works. And put your praise on! Get excited, and see what God will do.
Gotta go... I feel like eatin' some fire, without the marshmallows!
Pastor Ronnie

Monday, September 8, 2008


I remember the Toyota commercial of a few years back which contained the expression, "Oh, what a feeling"! It was used to descibe the excitement of purchasing a new Toyota. The image in my mind is of people leaping in the air, suspended between heaven and earth with their hands lifted up.

It's Monday morning as I write this blog. Monday is the day most pastors typically quit, die, give up the ghost. (I am a pastor, I know of this personally). You are tired mentally, physically, and spiritually, and you need a break. But today, I am thinking, "Oh, what a feeling"!

I understand our Christian experience is not based on feelings. It is based on faith. But I do appreciate the exhiliration of the presence of the Lord. We had an awesome service yesterday. I say that, not based on any particular thing. Although yesterday (second Sunday of September) is stated to be the highest attendance day of the church, we had some empty seats. And it wasn't based on a great offering, or anything in particular. The singing and music was anointed, we had people praying and seeking the Lord, but all of that is pretty routine for our people- for the most part they have a heart after God. My "feeling" is based on what is going on inside of me, and in the church. I remember hearing some time back someone say, and I've repeated it, "life is not about what happens to you, it is what about happens in you". And lately I have been praying for God to work in me, whatever He wants.

The result is that I am sensing a new and fresh anointing on me, and as a result, on the services. And I understand that I am not the only one seeking the Lord, there are others. There is a corporate hunger for more of Christ. We are studying in our midweek services about intimacy with God. Like the Apostle Paul, I want to know him, that is, to become more intimate with him, and to take out of that relationship an experience that will touch the world.

Oh, what a feeling. And it isn't Toyota, it's God!


Pastor Ronnie

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


Many in family, church, and friends have been praying for my son in law, Michael Armstrong. The following is an email sent out to our church family by my daughter, Tina. I wanted to pass it along to you:

Michael wanted me to thank you all for the card. It came on the perfect day. He had a rough day yesterday after being at the hospital all day & dealing with insurance stuff. I had went home for the weekend, and as soon as I returned to Durham yesterday & walked in our door Michael held up his card & said, "This came just in time." It cheered him up. I also gave him the little card & flowers that the kids made him, & that just topped it off. We have a wall of cards in our apartment. The extra special ones, usually from our 2 neices & Zachary, go on one particular side of the wall. Those 2 cards are in his special section now. Wanted to update you on Michaels condition. He's doing really well. His counts are looking really good. His white blood cells are in normal range. Yeay! He's getting a little more energy each day. He's a skinny boy now though. "Anorexia" is one of the side effects. I need Dan to come down here for a few days & fatten him up. :-) I'm going to work with him on his appetite this week. One little speed bump...One of the potential side effects of Bone Marrow & Stem Cell transplants is Graft versus Host disease. It happens in about 50% of transplant patients when the patient starts rejecting the donor cells. It starts out as a rash, and can be contained to just a rash, or can spread to other organs. Over the weekend, Michael started getting a rash. Ughh! But we knew this was a possibility going in. They are giving him steroids to keep hold of it. Please pray that the steroids work, but also that MIchael does not become immune to the steroids which would hurt him in the long run. The doctors assure us they have options for every possible scenario. But I just ask for specific prayer that he continues to progress, but that he doesn't become immune to any steroid or antibiotic they are giving him. I'm beleiving that he won't, but I am his wife, so sometimes the fear creeps in. No Worries!!! The good news is, Graft Versus Host Disease confirms that the transplant is working...Michael is fighting these foreign stem cells of his brother that are entering his body. So although they want it controlled, it's not necessarily a bad thing. We asked the doctors today how they think his progress is, and they said good. He's right on track. They said even GVHD is very common & not necessarily a detour, just a little speed bump. They are not even positive that it will delay things. We've been asking when he'll get to come home. Could be by the end of the month, could be sometime in October. Trust me, he's living for that day right now! Thanks for all of your prayers for both Michael & myself. As I was driving down the road last week I thought "Hmmm...I haven't had a breakdown or a good old cry session in a while." ...and I know it must be prayers lifting me up & making me strong. So know your prayers are working. And we'll be back soon, so save our spot at church. You know what they say about church people & where they sit...don't go there! :-) Besides, I hear little Em-Em is making sure that's covered. Tina Armstrong

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


I am not only the pastor of the church, I am editor and writer of our weekly newsletter. It comes in a bulletin form, but I call it a newsletter because it doesn't contain the established church bulletin format.. i.e., songs, prayer, sermon, etc. Rather, it contains four pages of information about the church, and what is going on. Within the pages you can find a welcome to visitors, kids and youth announcements, outreach, and other things pertinent to church life.

I was preparing the newsletter the other day when I noticed that there were exclamation points everywhere. Welcome Visitors! Exciting Kids Church! Anointed Praise and Worship! Those weren't necessarily where every !! exclamation point was, but you get the idea. There were half a dozen or so in the publication, and I remembered an episode of Seinfield a number of years ago. Elaine was writing a story or something, and she had put exclamation points everwhere. When she was being critiqued, she was told at every exclamation she was talking loud, shouting. In some places where it didn't need to be.

I want to live life shouting today. I want to live it to the full, as Jesus told us to do. My desire is to have his joy inside of me, and to allow his live to be seen through me. Instead of living with fear, regret, worry, or doubt, I want to live life wide open.

Stop living with a question mark. You are here for a reason. God has made you unique. You are a one of a kind, God design. Put the pedal to the medal. Life and enjoy life.


Y'all be blessed

Monday, September 1, 2008


The old hymn speaks of the storms of life passing over. I was reminded of this line in the song today as I have watched hurricane Gustav. Thankfully, it lessened in strength, and was downsized somewhat before it reached land. Nevertheless, it still brought heavy winds, and the damage is being assessed at this time.

Natural storms, (sometimes termed "acts of God" ) can bring damage to lives and properties. They can wreak havoc on lands. Spiritual storms can, as well. You may be facing some contrary winds blowing against your life today. There may be things going on today which are troubling to you. Hold on. The storm will pass. God will see you through.

We're praying for you.

Pastor Ronnie