Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Call Me Insane

I looked up the definition, and I think I qualify. According to Mirriam-Webster online dictionary, insanity is 1: a deranged state of the mind... No, that's not the one I am looking for 3b: something utterly foolish or unreasonable ... Yes, I could probably be defined at times as foolish and unreasonable.

Our faith in Christ is often labeled that way. Festus said of Paul, "You are insane." Acts 26:24 NLT The word translated insane is the word from which maniac or mad is derived from. Our Christian experience is sometimes looked up as being crazy to some. And if the world wants to call me crazy or insane because I live a radical faith, I'm okay with that.

You can call me insane for another reason. Albert Einstein was quoted as saying "to keep doing the same thing over and over, and yet expecting different results is insanity." I have used this quote in sermons many times. It encourages us to change the game plan, to do something different. I agree... for the most part.

But sometimes it pays just to be insane. Take Daniel, for example. He prayed. When threatened and persecuted, he just kept on praying. He kept doing the same thing. Sometimes what you're doing isn't wrong. As a matter of fact, it is right. And it works. But then a season comes when it doesn't work. What do you do then? I say you keep doing the right thing, even if it doesn't seem to be getting the right results. Keep on praying. Keep on giving. Keep on praising God. Keep on reaching out and loving on people. Keep on showing up at church. Keep on serving. When all hell breaks loose, hang in there. Don't quit. Job made it through. So did Joseph. All through the bible were heroes of the faith who the world would call crazy. Elijah said to his servant, "Go again seven times." Keep doing it over and over.

Sometimes church life is good. It's growing. People are excited. They love God, and love you. There is a spirit of expectancy all over the place. Revival is in the air. And then sometimes people are discouraged. Some are grumbling. Some are leaving. What went wrong? I've had those times when I examined the thing and discovered that I was doing the same things in the down times that I did in the up times.

I want to encourage you today to hang in there. Keep on doing what you're already doing, if what you're doing is right!


Monday, October 17, 2011

Limitless Love

She loves me. I know it. Her love is a great strength to me. I have been blessed by the love of my wife for 42 years. Married at an early age, we have been sweethearts for a long time. My pet names for her are "Pretty Girl" and "Sunshine." In front of our kids, she is "Mom", and around our one grandkid, she is "Maw Maw." She is the best gift this side of heaven.
He loves me. His love is different. It hasn't lasted as long, he is only seven. But it is just as deep. I see it in the way he looks at me, talks to me, listens to me. He is my grandson. I enjoy his presence. He lights up my life. Grandkids are precious, aren't they?
These are not the only examples of love in my life today. But they are the ones currently in the house as I think about this subject called love. They are love to me with skin on it. I am speaking of my wife and my grandson. It is good to be loved, isn't it? And it is good to love in return.
I couldn't imagine anyone loving me more, nor can I imagine loving someone else more deeply, than that shared with my family. Sometimes we are fortunate to have this kind of relationship with our extended family, our church, or close friends. These people are more valuable than fame or fortune!
And yet, for the best of them, it is all a limited love. And so is ours. Maybe not limited in the sense of what we would do for one of them. It is just that our abilities can only go so far. I can grieve with a loved one who is suffering from a disease, but I don't have the power to heal them. My love is limited in this matter.
But there is ONE today who loves us with an unlimited love. His love will be with us in every situation of life. And He can go with us through the storm, and through the fire!
Rest in His love today!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Phone Call

I am reminded today of the scripture in Genesis where Isaac sowed in a time of famine, and reaped a hundred fold return. (Genesis 26:12) As I sit outside on my balcony, the sky is overcast. The air has a slight chill, with a hint of fall on the horizon. I am praying and studying the word of God. My mind is also running in several different directions.

I think about the phone call I had last night. I get one from him every night. It was my seven year old grandson. The boy has the gift of gab. I say he inherited it from his mom, who likes to talk, and from his late great grandmother, who passed away several years before he was born. Zach likes to talk, and last night he was on a roll. But his subject threw me. I'm not sure where he got his ideas, who he had been listening to. Could it be that God was speaking to the boy? I think of Samuel, who heard the voice of the Lord at an early age.

He was talking about helping the poor. He spoke of how the church (of which he is a part of, and I serve as pastor) needs to be more involved in helping the poor. And we need to be more involved in missions work, and in giving to missions. He went on with several ideas about fundraising. I listened, and wondered. I felt challenged, but was thinking of my own needs, and the needs of the church.

The economy is down. People aren't working. We are doing all we can to stay above water. I wanted to tell him these things, but didn't have the heart to speak negatively about helping the poor or missions work. I didn't want to tell him that I wanted to do more, it just wasn't possible right now. I didn't want to dishearten little man, which I affectionately call him. After all, he is right. We need to do more.

Last night's phone call is stuck in my head, in my mind. And as I think about it today, I am reminded of this verse in Genesis. Isaac sowed when it didn't look like the right thing to do, or the right time to do it. He sowed anyway. He gave, and he kept on giving. He was faithful to serve, and faithful to expect. He believed God would produce a bountiful harvest. And God did!

I am thankful for the phone call last night. I am blessed by the child like faith and the enthusiasm. I am challenged in these times to give more, do more, pray more, be more!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Sifting and Shifting

The shift is on! God is taking us to new levels. It is exciting to sense the move of God in our midst, and to know He is moving in His church. As believers, we sometimes get stuck. Stuck in traditions, stuck in our mindsets, stuck in doing the same old things over and over, and yet expecting different results. When a fresh wind from heaven moves over us, it picks us up and carries us to new and exciting things.

The church must be on the move, we must not become stagnant. When God moves, we must move with Him. But we also need to understand that with the new shifting comes new sifting. Not everything that you carried at the last stage will go to the next one. Some things will remain behind. There will also be some people who will no longer be attached. They may be family, they may be long time friends. But when relationships get toxic, God will move them out of the way. Some will hold you back, will postpone or detour your destiny. God dealt with Abraham about this separation, and He dealt with others. Joseph went through a process that was brought on by the evil acts of his brothers, but God used it for a Divine Purpose, in order to get him to the intended place.

The process of preparation in your life is just that, it is a process. Some will abandon you, thinking you are a sinking ship. You may feel as if you are in a prison. But take heart, it is only a cocoon. It is a birthing chamber. In the pit, in the prison, in the fiery trial, God is developing you, molding you, shaping you. You are on the potter's wheel that the prophet Jeremiah spoke of.

Take heart. Change is coming. Transformation is coming. God is working on you, and He's working in you!

Snakes in the House

A man in nearby Asheville NC is being charged after it was discovered his mobile home was filled with venomous snakes, some of which there is no known antivenom, and extremely dangerous. The man had checked himself into the emergency room of an area hospital, and the investigation began. He had been bitten by one of the snakes.

As I read this story in the local news, I thought about how similar this is to real life. We often bring poisonous things into our home, with little or no regard for their danger. Our negative attitudes can be destructive to ourselves, and everyone around us. The choices of sin lead us into the pit of poison. Bitterness is another-- in fact, one of the words used to define the word bitter is to poison. Compromise, indifference toward God, ungodly lusts and habits are other dangerous snakes.

If you have "snakes in the house" you need to get them out. They will eventually bite you. They are not your friend. They are full of poison. Its time to destroy toxic relationships, and anything that can potentially kill you. This included the company you keep, the things you see on the tv screen or computer, and the relationships you carry.

Get rid of the snakes in the house before they get rid of you!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Hurting People Hurt People

Any journey through life will bring your share of hurts. There will be misunderstandings- in the home and family. Your spouse may feel neglected, you may sense that you are treated unfairly by your parents. You may have conflict with a sibling. Friendship squabbles are also difficult. They sometimes turn into wars, with people taking sides, and the hurt becoming more entrenched in their pain, and in their anger.

It is easy to preach from the sidelines to those whose response is coming from a hurtful situation. Grow up, stop acting childish. Get over it, we often preach. Sometimes the words we say, although carrying a measure of truth, only serve to make the pains deeper and the hurt person more engrossed in their feelings. It's somewhat like telling someone who has lost a loved one to just get over it. The fact is, that not everyone is able to deal with hurt and misunderstandings at the same pace.

I am not advocating petting and pampering someone who only wants your sympathy votes, and is stirring up a mess with their gossip and lies in the process. The truth I seek to drive home is that often times we are in a process of healing, and we are not there yet.

I know personally the feelings of rejection. Being raised in a large family, and the oldest child, I sometimes felt lost in the family. Some of the problems as a child, I carried into my adult years. So I can sympathize with those who feel as if they have been overlooked, rejected, or been hurt by words or actions. While I may not agree with their handling or reaction, I feel compassion for them.

I know it hurts. Its possible they didn't mean to hurt you. Its also possible they did. Either way, I am pulling for you. You are a good gift, have tons of potential inside you. God wants to heal your hurts today.

Be Blessed, in Jesus' name!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Don't Quit

At numerous times in the past I have used this poem, both for personal strength, and to strengthen others. It is an encouraging word to those who may feel like giving up. This poem is not my own. Its author is unknown. I share it today in the hope that it will help you hang in there.

Don't Quit

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all up hill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest! if you must; but don't you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As everyone of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don't give up, though the pace seems slow;
You might succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than
It seems to a faint and faltering man,
Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victor's cup.
And he learned too late, when the night slipped down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out;
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt;
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems afar;
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit;
It's when things seem worst that you mustn't quit.

(Author unknown)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Don't Poop on My Parade

I often get my thoughts through various experiences of life. Such is the case today. I am sitting outside of my camper at Ocean Lakes, just outside of Myrtle Beach, SC. It is one of the most enjoyable and relaxing things we do. We absolutely love the opportunity to get away, even if just for a few days.

I set up a little tent outside the camper for extra space, just in case it would be needed. Next to the tent is our vehicle. I glance over at the tent, and notice there is bird poop all over it. Looking beyond to the Tahoe, I see bird poop all over the side of it, as well. In fact, upon further investigation, there is bird mess on the door panel (the window was down) and inside the doorway to the tent. Directly above is a power line. Several birds are there as I look up.

The birds remind me of life. There are times when in the midst of our enjoyment, something messy happens. Some stink occurs. It is not due to a fault or anything we have done, it just happens. It was caused by another. And it will need to be cleaned up by you. You didn't do it, you didn't cause it, but if it gets clean, you will be the one to clean it. I remember last year during our vacation time. When I returned home, I had to deal with several "messy" situations in the church I pastor. None of which were due to something I had done. And I will admit, I have made more than my share of problems, lol. But isn't it like the devil to try to steal your joy and peace, and often times just after, or during, your blessing!

I wrote a little poem. It is just a humorous attempt on my part to make light of what is going to be some scrubbing on the tent and car. Here goes:

"Birdie, birdie, up so far.
Why'd you do this on my car?
On my brand new camping tent,
And even inside your stinky went.
They parked my camper beside the power line,
Otherwise, all would be fine.
I'm on vacation
For planned relaxation,
Instead this vexation.
Here I am stressing
Because of your messing."

Has your parade, er uh, vacation ever been pooped on? Like me, you have more than likely faced times when things happened that were not of your doing, and it got dirty and messy. Maybe like myself, you wanted the bird that caused the mess to clean it up, but you knew it wasn't going to happen. I'm just here to tell you to move on. Clean up the mess. It's life. It happens. Get over it.

Y'all be blessed!

Flawed Friends

Have you ever noticed that we want our friends to become to us what we've never become to them? In fact, we expect them to be what we could never be to anyone-- perfect. Perfect is being without flaw. A perfect friend never is unfair, never treats you wrongly, never overreacts to a situation. A perfect friend is just that... perfect in every way. But that person doesn't exist. Truthfully, you don't have any perfect friends, and you are not one yourself.

You may have friends of whom you've never had a fight with. There may be those with whom you seem to hit it off. That is great! We all need friends that are special to us. Everyone needs a friend that will stand with him through thick and thin. A friend that will go to battle with them, believe in them, and encourage them, no matter what they have done or are going through. But even that friend falls short of the perfection mark. We just tend to overlook, ignore, or are purposely blind to their shortcomings.

My wife and I are away on vacation. Our grandson, his mom, and dad are with us, as are some friends. Zach, the grandson, Samuel, and Sydney Grace were collecting seashells yesterday as the sun was going down. It was for a project for my daughter Ti Ti, who leads Kid's Church back home. They returned with some perfect sea shells, among others that were imperfect. What they don't know is that Samuel and Sydney Grace's dad had bought an assortment of sea shells in the camp store, and planted them so as to help their project. The perfect shells to them weren't formed from the ocean, the grind of the water, waves, and rocks. Truthfully, I've never studied their formation. I just know most of the seashells you pick up at the beach are cracked, chipped, or have an imperfect form. Like my friends... and like me.

Job was going through the crisis of a lifetime. Calamity after calamity, trial after trial had hit. His finances, his home, tragic loss of lives and property, and his health were all affected. He was having wife problems. He needed his friends, but they weren't there initially. And when they showed up, they said nothing. Things got worse when they finally spoke to him. They played the blame game. Instead of encouragement, came accusations. Job called them "physicians of no value." Physicians are supposed to help heal, aren't they? Job's friends had become his frenemies-- friend enemies. Do you have frenemies? Have you become one?

Before Job could be restored, he had to pray for those flawed friends. I believe he had to forgive them. So must you and I. We are flawed, we are imperfect. Our shell is cracked, fragmented, and chipped. But Jesus loves us anyway. We should love one another as He has loved us!

Lord, thank you for my flawed friends today. Bless them, I pray. And forgive me when I hurt them. In Jesus' name, amen!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Your Presence Makes a Statement

My wife walked into the living room this morning. I am an early riser, and always am up before she. I have several nicknames for her, and one of them is "Pretty Girl." When she entered the room, it came to me that beauty had just walked into the room. It's amazing that the very environment of the room, and all in it, changes at her appearance. Her grace and beauty, her dignity, her mothering heart, all accompany her.
I am thankful for a Proverbs 31 woman. But in actuality, I think all of us ought to effect our surroundings.

Peter's shadow brought healing and deliverance. There was no magic in Peter's shadow, but there was a presence that accompanied him. It was the presence of Christ, the Anointed One and his anointing. The fragrance of Jesus should precede us and follow us everywhere. Our spirit and attitude should be exciting, contagious, stirring, uplifting, challenging. When we leave, people should know that a man or woman of God has been in the place. The world awaits the manifestation, the revealing of the sons of God. All world waits expectantly and longingly for the manifestation of our sonship. It's time to assume our rightful position.

You should never leave a place the same. May they take notice of us, that we have been with Jesus!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Praise You in This Storm

I just returned from a trip to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to take relief supplies to the area which was devastated by the tornadoes last week. The supplies were gathered very quickly, with the bulk of them coming from Restoration Church International, in Gaffney, and Restoration Church, in Spartanburg. My good friend, Pastor Joey Turner had talked with a precious brother who was donating his 18 wheeler, and a driver. In addition, someone from the Marshall Tucker Band provided another truck, which was filled at the church in Spartanburg, and went down the evening before us. Pastor Kevin King, from the church in Spartanburg, was originally on staff at a church in Tuscaloosa, which was serving as a hub for distribution. Kevin joined us there, at Daystar Church, and we unloaded about half of the semi truck there, and then took the remaining supplies to Double Portion Church. A precious elderly pastor there eagerly accepted the donations.

Also accompanying us on the trip was a team from the church in Gaffney, and Randy Brown, from New Harvest, the church I pastor. In addition, other pastors from the SC area met us there in Tuscaloosa.

The next morning we met briefly at Daystar, and planned further efforts for assistance. We also toured some of the areas which were hit by the storm. It was difficult to look at the destruction without feeling great sorrow. Houses, buildings, vehicles, demolished. Knowing that some of the areas we were in had bodies that had not yet been recovered. The stench of death was evident. A Chuckee Cheese where a child's birthday party was being held was completely demolished, taking the innocent lives of 30 children. Search teams were in some of the areas we were in. People were unaccounted for.

Our prayers are needed for the people of Tuscaloosa. My heart goes out to them. One sign painted on a house said, "We love you, Maw Maw and Paw Paw." Another sign said "We will praise you in this storm." Sometimes that is difficult to do, isn't it?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Man Cave

I've been working on "the man cave" for several weeks now. The basement to my house has been used as a storage area for years. I had wanted to clean it out and fix an area for my grandson and I for some time, but lacked the motivation to tackle the enormous job. My oldest son decided to take it upon himself during a trip my wife and I took.

Although it is primarily an unfinished basement, I have worked hard, and am rather proud. And Zach, who is seven, is as excited as I am. I have posted pictures, signs, and "man cave" rules throughout the area.

But I have a problem. It's the girls. No, they haven't said anything. It's just that with the fun of the "man area", I fear someone may take me serious. And it is a little hard to think of the area being a man only room because of the pictures displayed. There are some girls included. You see, I am a family man. I have a daughter, and a daughter in law. I have a mom, and two sisters. And I have ladies in my life at the church, some that seem like sisters, some daughters, and some grandkids. They are all precious to me. These precious ladies are not excluded from my life. They are in every part-- my family, my worship, my friendship.

So I am at a dilemma, somewhat. I will leave the pictures up about the man cave. I will leave up the posted man cave rules. But you will also see pictures, memories, of both girls and boys, men and women in the cave.

Zach and I love our man cave. But girls are welcome. They are family!

Friday, March 11, 2011

I hate depression...

I heard the news yesterday. A brother in ministry had passed away. Like me, he had a background in music and singing. Also like me, he was a pastor, and a family man. He was somewhat younger than I, and the news of his passing troubled me.

I had met him a few years ago when he came to my church for a benefit we were having for my brother in law, who was battling cancer. He brought his wife and kids, and they sang for us. I had known of this brother through his frequent appearances on a local Christian TV station, and also knew that he had had a background with helping some big time gospel groups in his beginnings. In our concert for Michael, my son in law, he, his wife, and kids sang. It was a beautiful singing.

I hadn't personally heard from him in a while, but I knew he was pastoring a church in nearby South Carolina. I assumed everything was going well. Then I heard the news... Apparently things had been going bad lately. I don't know the details, and only heard this through another pastor friend. But this brother was going through some rough times. His wife had left him, and his church had asked him to resign.

A couple of days ago he took his life. I am deeply saddened by this. Although I did not know him well, I feel a great loss. I know he was a man of God, and there was an anointing on his life. He contributed much to the kingdom of God. It shouldn't have ended like this.

We all have felt the emotions of discouragement and despair. I personally know what it is to battle depression. Most of us do not take the measures that he did. I regret that he felt so low that he did so.

Our prayers are with the family.

Friday, March 4, 2011


I like my coffee! I enjoy the smell and the taste of a fresh cup. I don't want anything in my coffee. No flavors, please. Also no cream, and no sugar. I like it black, extra strong. And I have a particular brand and blend that I prefer the most. It is Millstone Columbian Supreme.

I generally buy a pound from the local Wal Mart. I grind it up there, espresso grind. The coffee will last between a week to two weeks. I drink a couple of cups in the morning, and maybe a cup or two later in the day. And when company or guests come over, I often put on a pot.

Wal Mart has probably a dozen or so blends of Millstone coffee from which to choose. On occasion they are out of my favorite, Columbian Supreme, so I have to pick another blend. And about once a quarter, someone pulls the "coffee switch." I am not sure if it is on purpose, or by accident. I just know that I know my coffee. And I know when it isn't my favorite blend. As a matter of fact, I can pretty much tell you what they switch it with-- breakfast blend. I know this because when they have been out of my favorite, that has been my next choice. But it is not my preference.

I just put on a fresh pot this morning. Yes, they have done it again. It was labeled Columbian Supreme, but it isn't. It doesn't have the rich aroma, the taste that I crave. It is a substitute, a replacement. I suppose the stocker of the coffee thinks we will never know. Oh, but I know. I know my coffee. And I know what isn't my coffee.

Which leads me to my real point today-- Don't we often substitute for the real move of God. We bring in imitations, copies. Something that looks close like. Yet it isn't the real. We ran out of the real, so we offer what we've got. And it just isn't the same.

Signing off... craving a cup of real Columbian Supreme.... and a real move of God!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Mother in Law Jokes and Banana Pudding

We've all heard the mother in law jokes. Most men have not only heard them, but have shared them. We've also made up a few of our own. Any man who has been married has more than likely felt the wrath of an intrusive mother in law who at one point felt the evil man was hurting her little girl.

I was one to share some mother in law jokes. I was also one that on occasion had a difference of opinion with my wife's mom. But although we had our differences, we got along well. And I haven't shared a mother in law joke in quite a few years. At least twelve or more, I think. Mary passed away years ago to cancer. I think it was about twelve.

I miss her. I remember when Trish (my wife) and I met. Her mom was a talker. I was shy and backwards by nature. But Mary never met a stranger. She could talk to anyone, whether she knew them or not. In my early days of ministry, her communication skills were a tremendous help to me. I learned that talking to people helps them open up. It helps them to get comfortable with you.

Another thing I miss is her crying. We would often laugh at it. I was one of the leaders of the laughing. I can see it today as if it were only yesterday. We would be sitting around at a family gathering, enjoying ourselves, when all of a sudden, she would start. She would try to hide it, and we would wonder what it was. The crying wasn't always sad, many times it was joyful. But still, she would open up like a flood. Mary's heart was tender. Whatever it was that had touched her heart, she couldn't conceal. So the tears would flow.

And boy, could she cook! Southern style cooking with all of its flavor! I miss the dinners, and the desserts. One of them that I remember was the banana pudding. My wife never made banana pudding, because, as she put it, "nobody makes it like momma." And sadly, when she passed, so did the pudding with her. Trish never thought to get the recipe. (Thankfully, my daughter makes a pretty good pudding)

Banana pudding, tears, talking. Memories. Mary is with Jesus today. I had left the hospital by my wife's side as Mary struggled with breathing. The cancer had taken its toll. I had a wedding to perform. I didn't make it back in time to tell her goodbye.

I'm looking forward to the next time we meet, when I will say hello. Or, as we say here in the south, "Hey." I might say "Hey, Mary. Got any banana pudding?"

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Burning Bridges

At some point in our lives, we all come to a place where we need to "burn a bridge." We should eliminate those things in our lives which are detrimental to our success and victory. Toxic relationships, people who pull us down, should be distanced from us so that we can pursue our destiny. We are told in the bible to lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily besets us.

However, something we should be careful about burning a bridge to people who have hurt us. In the time of adversity, it is tempting to slam the door to the ones who have caused us pain. And although we may need to go a separate path, we should be careful about burning a bridge.

People can let us down and fail us. We can do the same to them. And there are people in our lives for only a season. But we should allow God to heal us, and them. There are people who may need us in the future. They may need the God in our lives. And our hearts must always be tender and ready.

I have been hurt. There are things it has taken a while to heal. There are some relationships in my life that will never be the same. I have moved on. But the bridge is still there. It is the bridge of God's love, forgiveness, and grace.

Someone may need to cross it.