Ok, I am ready to fess up. One or two of you have noticed that I have barely posted a Twitter update this week, and this is my FIRST blog entry of the week. As my week draws to a close, I guess I can now admit that I am on vacation!!
The first couple of days of this week were no vacation, even though I am not in Florence. Situations kept popping up that kept me on my cell phone for HOURS. I can’t wait to see my bill!! However, I’ve now been in the sand and sun enough to sport a sunburn. On my walk a couple of days ago I ran into some friends from Greenville that I probably haven’t seen in 19 years. Yes, this has been another interesting week.
I will confess I’ve checked my email frequently this week. Sometimes I wonder if I should completely turn my cell off for the week and just check email. That might be a plan for next time!!
Yesterday was a significant day at Ebenezer. And a marathon day. In our 11am worship, we recognized 11 high school graduates in our annual baccalaureate service. Every year this one gets a little more sweet for me!! I remember these kids when they were in KINDERGARTEN!!! I also preached from my iPad for the FIRST TIME! It was nice to NOT have to mess with papers on the pulpit (but it would also be nice if I memorized!)
At 4pm, we convened an ordination council for the purpose of ordaining Buddy Rainwater to the ministry. Buddy starts June 1st as the first full-time chaplain to the Florence County Sheriff’s Office, as well as to the county jail at Effingham. It was good to have Daniel Inabinet, W.L. Collins, and Bill Curtis joining us in the examination.
One of those funny things about a Southern Baptist ordination, we ordain as a local church, but it is frowned-upon to do it without other pastors from other churches assisting. That is actually a good move of polity within the association and convention, to hold churches accountable. Regardless, it was good to have those guys in there!
At 6pm, we proceeded with the ordination service. Lots of family and friends were there to participate. Buddy shared a powerful testimony at both the council and in the service … Knowing him for 15 years, it is easy to see how God has been preparing him for this moment!
So, it was a significant day at Ebenezer!! Hope your day of worship was just as good!!
Yes, we made a quick trip to Easley this weekend. Part of the rollercoaster I am currently on. Diana and Krissy had a baby shower to attend, so Drew and I hung out at the house all day.
We did a few things for Mom and Dad, but probably worked more on his mousetrap car for science than anything. He really is doing all the work, all I am doing is providing the CASH for materials and modifications. It will be interesting to see if his idea will work!
Things started out on a rough note for Dad on Friday night. I think he just got too tired and was having a hard time helping us get him to the bed. One of the things I’ve noticed is he resists a little when he is tired. On Saturday he had a pretty good day. We even helped him walk in the afternoon.
Overall, he is making physical progress. There is no doubt about that. The neurological progress is coming slower, and that makes it much more difficult for Mom. Mom has to count on him to give her some help to do everything they need to do. I am just praying for a little more neuro progress … that sure would help out a lot!
Yesterday I attended the funeral of my uncle Roger. It wasn’t quite 8 weeks ago when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Everyone I’ve known with that type of cancer has gone quickly. And my aunt and cousins tell me there was a blessing in all of this, because he was starting to experience great pain.
How often have I told folks at Ebenezer that we preach our own funerals by how we live?? The ministers in his church did a great job yesterday, but six months from now no one will remember what they said … What we will remember is how Roger lived!
My favorite memories of Roger are caught up in holidays, mostly Christmas. Since his sons, Tony and Allen, are the closest male cousins I have to my age, I always hoped EVERY CHRISTMAS they would be home. I probably drove my mom nuts for a few years, asking her EVERY CHRISTMAS “are the Radcliffe’s coming home?” It always made Christmas more fun for me when they did!
Roger was a lot of fun. Always had a good attitude and an optimistic outlook. Like his pastor said yesterday, he was probably one of the first techno-geeks in Horry County (via the USAF). He continued to love computers and worked with them, both for fun and vocation, for the rest of his life.
And now Roger is the first … The first of his generation, in my mom’s family, to die. Mom has four sisters and one brother, and Roger has the unfortunate distinction of being the first we’ve buried. Although we won’t live forever, there is always that little part of us that hopes … that cannot imagine being without our family.
I am thankful for the way he served his nation, the way he served his family, and the way he served his Lord. And kind of sad that he was the first.
Yes, I can hear the clicking of the chain, pulling the rollercoaster car up another hill. And, if you’ve read me before, I HATE ROLLERCOASTERS. But I have moved into a few days where I will meet myself coming and going at least a couple of times.
Went to the funeral home last night. It was good to see my aunt and my cousins doing well. Uncle Roger was in a great deal of pain for the last couple of weeks, so there was an element of blessing in his death. Of course, that doesn’t make things much easier, but it helps a little. Of course I will return today for the funeral. It will be two trips within 24 hours …
I also need to make a quick trip up to Greenville to check on Dad. Then a full day on Sunday with Baccalaureate and an ordination council / service on Sunday afternoon / evening.
WHEW!! The next few days will be hectic!! But there are some good things in there, so I am thankful.
For the good of Ebenezer Baptist Church, and ANY CHURCH of a reader of this blog, I pray that each of us will seek God’s will for us WITHIN HIS CHURCH and SERVE THERE. For too many years, churches find warm bodies and plug them into vacant spaces on their service rosters. AND IT NEVER WORKS.
I am a firm believer in finding the RIGHT PERSON for the RIGHT JOB. Partly because I know it is biblical, as Paul often wrote about the Body of Christ being made up of different people with different gifts, and those gifts work in concert to COMPLETE the local church. ALSO, I believe this because I have seen the results of plugging the WRONG people into important roles in the church. I’ve seen the dysfunction on committees and ministry teams when those who really don’t know what they are doing are plugged in to vital places. I’ve seen how the church suffers when that happens.
And it all boils down to trying to cram a square peg into a round hole. It NEVER WORKS. Ebenezer is now in the season of finding the right people for the right roles within our Ministry Selection Team and our Nominating Team, which fill roles for ministry teams and teaching positions within the church. I pray these teams will make the right choices, not because of agendas or not out of laziness, but that they will make truly God-led decisions about places of service.
I pray for this because I know what an awesome difference there is between doing it God’s way and doing it our way.
The circle of life is somewhat predictable. Just as sure as we are born, we will die one day unless Christ returns before our time is up. It is a fact of life with which we deal every day. And in a church the size of Ebenezer, some family is ALWAYS walking through that valley of the shadow of death.
Well, this week will be one of my turns. My uncle, Roger Wayne Radcliffe, died last night. It seems like only a few weeks ago when I heard the news of his pancreatic cancer. When I heard that was his cancer, I knew it probably wouldn’t be long. It never is with that one.
Cancer stinks. Yeah, those words are not original to me, but they are so true. Sometimes I wonder if we are doing this to ourselves with all the steroids we inject into meat and the pesticides we use on our vegetables. Not that I am about to become a tree-hugger, but you’ve got to wonder why cancer is so much more prevalent today.
My Uncle Roger was a career Air Force man. His career took him all over the world, with his last assignment being in Myrtle Beach. After retirement, he was a civilian contractor on MYB Air Force Base until it closed. He and my Aunt Pug (her real name is Evelyn, but I don’t even know if she would answer to it any more) lived in Socastee. Three of their four kids still live at the beach … One lives on the west coast. Facebook gave me an avenue over the last year or so to really reconnect with all of them, and today I share their pain.
I KNOW many people will say many things to them in the next few days … Things like “it must’ve been God’s will” and “he is in a better place” and “Heaven needed him a little more than we did.” And, although those seem to be harmless statements, they might not be quite what a grieving family needs to hear right now. Sometimes I wish people would just be there and listen.
We all face loss. Part of what is awesome about being in a church family is we carry these burdens with each other, not alone. We help each other, because it is the right thing to do. AND because we know there will be a day when we will need help, too!
Last night at EBC we had our annual Royal Ambassador / Girls in Action recognition service. In this service we honor the hard work of our boys and girls in mission study throughout the school year. I love it, because it reminds me every year of how much those guys and girls are growing up. It is also a gentle reminder of the most unappreciated resource of any church – Volunteers.
RAs and GAs are two of many ministries at Ebenezer that would not exist without volunteers: Men and women who believe in the mission and are willing to give their time to see it become reality. I often joke from the pulpit there must be a special place in Heaven for RA workers … I could say the same for GA workers, too! Both jobs are TOUGH and the rewards are solely in the results. And, as a pastor, I am VERY THANKFUL for the number of adults who help make these programs happen. I am thankful for adults who are willing to meet for long hours to develop and plan other ministries of the church.
I guess what I am writing is this: I am THANKFUL for people who seek God’s will and followHis call!!
I often end sermons with that thought. Even that exact quote. And I wonder what it really means to those who hear?
At the 8:30 service this morning, I felt like a salmon trying to swim upstream. In front of a room full of deer caught in my little salmon headlights. And I hate it when that happens. Sometimes I wonder if I am doing justice to the message God puts on my heart. I wish I could study about TWICE as much as I get to now, but if I do that, other things go lacking. And people get upset. And they start hounding me about things on their agendas. And, being a middle child, more often than not I cave. And then I almost drown myself trying to get ready for the next big thing. And that is the weekly cycle of my life.
Back to the point: I think we are all guilty, at times, of forgetting what this is all about. We get so caught up in what we think OUGHT to happen that we forget it is all about HIM. And we get so busy in the minutia of “church work” that we forget to ask the question, “What will I do with Him?”
After all, He is why we are REALLY here … Right??
In a few minutes, we will trek up to West Florence High School for Drew to run in a 5k. A very special race, in memory of a special kid. Taylor Elmore was one of Drew’s cross country teammates that lost his life in a tragic auto accident at the beginning of August, 2009.
I love the Elmores. Would not consider them close, personal friends, but their character has shown through in several ways. My favorite memory goes back two summers ago, when Drew was a rising 8th grader at Sneed and Belinda (Taylor’s mom) was coaching the Sneed kids, AS A VOLUNTEER, through a summer workout to get them ready to run CC at West Florence that year. Both of the Elmore boys (Taylor and Brian) were already at West Florence, but all THREE of them ran with the Sneed kids, taught them, challenged them, and readied them. FOR NO PAY. Just for the love of running. I will always love them for that.
When Taylor died, my heart broke for them. As well as MANY, MANY folks whose lives they have touched. And I am more than glad to get up early this morning, cook breakfast for my family, and go out to the festivities. Proceeds from this race will go to help special needs kids in FSD1, purchasing recreation equipment for them.
And even better – the team Taylor helped, the team he was a part of will put on their cross country uniforms one more time this school year and run for their fallen brother. And there is something really cool about that!!