Thursday, July 30, 2009


Ever feel like you've been knocked down? Situations in life seem overwhelming? If you have experienced those times, or if you are presently going through a stressful situation, you are not alone. Pressures of life happen to everyone. It is not a question of IF, it is a question of HOW we will respond that we need to address.

I'll confess that I have failed at times in the crisis. I have doubted when I should have believed, and complained when I should have praised. Yes, I know what it is to "miss it." And I never want to underestimate the pain of someone else, nor do I want to judge them for their response. The line to an old country music song comes to my mind "Walk a mile in my shoes... before you criticize and accuse." When we have walked in the shoes, or path, that another is walking, we can understand their situation. We are not as likely to judge them as we are to pray for and encourage them when we have done so.

The thing that is stirring in me today is to encourage you. You are a survivor! You are still here. In the midst of the storm, you are still kicking. Yes, you may feel battle scarred and battle weary. You may feel lower than a snake's belly, but you are breathing. You are alive.

Do what David did. Encourage yourself. Pick yourself up. Ask God for help. Believe that He is working for you. Sing a song. Take a walk. Talk to a friend. Attend church. Read your bible. It ain't over, until God says its over, and He hasn't said that.

I know. As they say... "Been there, done that." Yes, I have. And I'm glad to say I'm


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Dirt Throwers

"Don't throw dirt," I heard a daycare teacher tell the little ones as they opened the door to go outside. Mrs Christy knew that some of the toddlers and preschoolers had the capacity to throw dirt. "Time out" for dirt throwers. That would be the penalty- time out. Sit and contemplate the consequences of your actions, should you decide to throw dirt at a friend.

When I heard her words, it hit me immediately. I thought of dirt throwers in life. Those who gossip, those who spread vicious lies. There are people who seem to get joy out of belittling others. One of the problems with dirt throwing is that others get involved in the process. The next thing you know, you've got people slinging dirt at people of whom they know little about. If you have ever been on the receiving end of the dirt throwing, you know from experience that it is not pleasant.

I will use, for example, a social network I am on- Facebook. On this site you follow friends or like minded people of interests, who follow you back. There are some whom you may not know, but for the most part, you are linked with these people. These are your FRIENDS. The emphasis being on friends. Yet sometimes, I will see a posting that is a complaint about something someone did or didn't do, a gripe about what someone did to them. They don't name names, they just leave us wondering what in the world is going on. Did I do something? Was it me? And I wonder when I see the dirt throwing, what will this accomplish? If this is your friend, why not go to them personally, rather than post it on the wall for us all to see?

You see, the problem with dirt throwing is that you not only get it on others, you get it on yourself. You get it on you, you get it on mama, you get it on junior, and you get it on yourself. The end result is that we all need a bath-- because you chose to throw dirt.

I'm joining with Christy, one of my daycare teachers, in saying "Don't throw dirt."

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Good Job

I have heard the phrase over and over for the last three weeks to a five year old. Zachary, my grandson, has been taking swimming lessons. The instructor at the Y has heaped praises on everything Zach has done, from day one. "Good job" I will hear him say as Zach applies a technique he has just been shown.

I never had formal training on swimming. I've learned things just watching the instructor teach Zach. So my knowledge of whether Zachary is doing it correctly or not is very limited. What I do know is this- the youthful lifeguard constantly affirms to my grandson that he is doing good.

"Good job, good job." In the thirty minute lesson, it is repeated at every step. It places support in a little boy who that he can do it. "Swim a little further, keep coming, I am with you, good job." The instructor looks no more than twenty years of age. But his maturity in teaching is beyond his years. No, I am not talking about teaching in swimming. He seems capable at that, but as I said, my knowledge of swimming isn't based on technique. No, I am referring to his teaching about life.

Encouraging people to take an extra step. Praise them for the effort. Assure them they can make it. Tell them they they are doing good. Positive affirmations to people. An encouraging word. You would be amazed at how people will give the effort when they are encouraged.

Low self esteem prevails in some. You may be one of them. You may have been told you are no good, you can't make it. Someone may have called you a failure. Your image of yourself may have been shaped by cold calloused comments of people who don't know your real value. But the God in heaven who formed you thinks you are special.

I want to borrow a couple of words I have heard from a young man at the Y, and tell you: "Good job."

Monday, July 20, 2009

Dream again

One of the things I have purposed to do in life is encourage people. Whether it be those who I am in direct contact with via family, friends, and church, or those who may read my postings on the church website, blog, or social networking- the desire is to lift up and inspire.

As those close to me know, my son in law has battled lymphoma cancer for the past four years. This past Tuesday, Michael went on to be with Jesus. Needless to say, it has been a difficult season in our lives. He had so much going for him. I could see the call of God on him, and thought he might one day serve in some capacity of pastor.

We had a beautiful service yesterday morning at the church I pastor. In the ministry time at the end of my sermon, several of our church members gathered around to pray for me. I heard one of the ladies asking God to resurrect the dreams inside. When she prayed that, I found myself responding to God that I wanted Him to do that. The pressures of ministry, problems and pains of life, had caught my attention. I need to dream again.

All of us must have time to grieve when we are going through the passing of a loved one. But we must also dream again. My daughter will need to dream again. Pray for us.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


Gaffney, SC is located about 20 minutes from where I live. The small town and surrounding communities had been in terror during the past couple of weeks. What began as one violent crime of murder led to become 5 innocent victims of a madman within about a 10 day span. News of the Gaffney serial killer spread throughout the region, nation, and world. The town was held captive in fear and terror. Doors were locked, people stayed home. Businesses were affected. This fear was not contained within the area limited to Gaffney or Cowpens. Rumors of the vehicle in question being in our area here in Rutherford County were rampant, as I'm sure in others.

Patrick Burris was gunned down in Gastonia NC, just about 30 miles from Gaffney, when he pulled a gun and shot an officer. Ballistic reports and other evidence linked him to the murders. He is said to have had about a 25 page record, and was just released from prison in April.

Expressions of relief and gratitude that the nightmare is over has gone out, while the community continues to grieve over its loved ones. As I think back towards the past couple of weeks, I am grateful for overwhelming response that brought this to an end. I think it is due to several factors, listed in no certain order: 1) Law enforcement, who worked tirelessly day and night. They put their own lives at risk in order to protect us 2) The media- This was one of those times when we needed to be saturated. The media kept us up on the story 3) Alert citizens- The couple from Gastonia who called police did not link the situation to the suspected murderer. But they did notice suspicious activity at a nearby house. It turned out to be the call that ultimately got the murderer off the streets.

Last, but certainly not least, we need to thank the churches and communities for the prayers. Special calls of prayer were made. My dear friend, Pastor Joey Turner, of Restoration Church International, was one of those who had called for a time of prayer. On Sunday morning, all across South Carolina, and North Carolina. From across the nation, and churches in third world countries- prayer was going up. We are in gratitude for the call to prayer, and the answer to prayer.

As we continue to remember those hurting because of their loss, we give thanks. To the police, the media, the Gastonia couple, the churches. And to God. The nightmare is over. We are in terror no more.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


I did it! After much visiting, fault finding, and judging, I finally found the perfect church. I had dreamed of finding such a place that was deep enough spiritually for my superior knowledge, and holy enough to sustain my constant criticisms of the girls whose arms were showing, and the boys who had earrings or tattoos. Do you realize how difficult it is to sit in a church service and be distracted and surrounded by all the fleshly people?

Although I have only attended this church a couple of times, I am pretty sure this one fits the bill and meets my stringent guidelines. The pastor seems to be in his early 30s/mid 50s. He is young and energetic and has a fiery vision/ mature and seasoned and has much understanding. His wife plays the piano/keyboard and teaches Sunday School/Kids Church.

I prefer a church that is open to the freedom of the Holy Spirit, but have found that many of those who give such liberty are confusing and crazy. Not this church. The services are electrifying and energizing/restrained and low key. I have never seen so much liberty in all my life, it is so refreshing. Their is not a time element there, the services have lasted as long as an hour.

The kids ministry is perfect. They teach the children on their own level at kid's church/make them sit in the pews and listen to the preaching like we did when I was growing up. The youth ministry is also exceptional. The teens are excited and growing spiritually and I am sure the fact that the awesome youth ministry/ constant putting down by the pastors and leaders is the reason.

Their is no pressure to give, pray, serve, or any of the other things which usually are attached to places of worship. What a relief to finally find such a perfect place. I plan on joining this Sunday!

Of course, such a church doesn't exist. And if it did, you and I would mess it up. The people looking for a perfect church generally come in with their set ideas of how church should be. They allow little room for variance. They expect more of leadership, kids, youth, and anything going on in church, than they are willing to give or do. These people may give to the church, and may serve for a season. But they are constantly fault finding- maybe publicly, maybe privately. The "perfect church lookers" usually refer to the church as "your" church, and never identify it as their own. These type people, who in their own estimation are deeply spiritual and anointed, are actually shallow and narrow minded. They have place themselves into a box with their thinking which prohibits them from reaching the very people Christ died for.

Like the sons of the prophets of Elisha's day, they are viewing from a distance. They can tell you what is going on without ever taking the steps of Elisha. He got committed. He followed and served Elijah faithfully. And when the mantle fell, Elisha was there to pick it up and get the double portion.

At New Harvest (where I serve), I will tell you up front that we are not perfect. Neither I, nor those who serve. Perfect youth leaders? No. Perfect Children's Ministry? No Perfect Worship Team? No- I could go on and on, but you get the point. Imperfect people serve here. But God somehow uses imperfect people, doesn't he? Have you read the bible?

Actually, the perfect church does exist, but not in our limited definition. Jesus died for a perfect church. It is perfect, not because you and I have no flaws, but because of his blood.

Friday, July 3, 2009

"Blowed a gasket"

Yes, I know. It is not correct English. But I sit this morning thinking of a mechanic's term I have heard described over the years regarding a car that needed repairs. Being brought up around the automobile business, I learned the value of a good "head gasket." A blown gasket would result in loss of engine power and damage to the ability to function properly.

To "blow a gasket" has become a metaphor meaning to lose one's mind or senses. To get angry beyond reason, or to lose control of emotions and reasoning. Have things around you ever become so crazy that you "blowed your gasket?" I confess that I have. No, not the kind of breakdown that required the attention of a doctor or a prescription of medicine. But I have had those times when I couldn't take any more (or maybe didn't discipline myself to do so) and I entered into the gasket blowing situation. Minds and bodies go on overload, you shut down, blow off steam. Different people react in different ways, but most can identify. You said something you later regret, but at the time you had had enough. It may not have even been the current situation or person that caused your problem, but it happened.

Pastors occasionally blow a gasket. I do it every once in a while to a good friend of mine, also a pastor. No, I am not really attacking him, I am just letting go of my frustrations. He does the same thing to me. It is good to have a friend to whom you can be transparent and let go of your feelings. He always listens and helps. The danger is when we reveal ourselves to people who will uncover us before others. I heard Bishop TD Jakes talk one time about Naaman, and he used the term "but" he was a leper. Bishop Jakes went on to say that you need to watch who you show your "but" to.

Gaskets and seals are important in our lives. I remember having a car that the air conditioner didn't work. I had it checked and found out the problem was an O ring, a little rubber seal that cost about 50 cents at the time. The freon had leaked out because of a bad seal, a "blown gasket." I have had some problems with my pool for the last couple of weeks. The problem began right before vacation, so upon returning home I have tried to discover the root of it. Cloudy, milky water. Every time I would vacuum and add chlorine, white would shoot into the pool and the situation would get worse. Just before dark last night I checked out the filter. There it was- a seal wasn't in place. The filter wasn't functioning properly because of a malfunctioning seal, or gasket.

You know, life is like the gasket. You may not be in such bad shape after all. Just may need to replace a gasket.