Here is the latest, as I understand it:
We had a GREAT weekend visit with Mom and Dad last weekend. It was the first in a long time that I didn’t feel like he’d taken a step back … With that written, on Sunday he was very weak. He is always tired after we visit, because he doesn’t go to bed until late Friday night and refuses to take a nap on Saturday. But this time it was different. Mom had to call EMS because he couldn’t even get up.
After spending most of the evening and early morning in the ER at Greenville Memorial, he was diagnosed with a severe urinary tract infection, given some IV antibiotics, and sent home … via ambulance! Monday was a pretty good day. Tuesday was not so good … Dad has to be patient and allow the medicine to do its job.
Betty Moore-Bell told me the biggest challenges Dad will face with his current health will be UTIs. She was correct!! I’m just praying today for a quick recovery. Hope you will join me in that!!
I freely admit this … I HAVE NO IDEA WHERE I AM GOING!! I HAVE NO IDEA WHERE EBENEZER BAPTIST CHURCH IS GOING!!
Some will read this and say “AHA!! I TOLD YOU HE DIDN’T KNOW WHAT HE WAS DOING!!” Yes, I’ve heard that a time or two in my years at EBC. But, not to worry … I have NO IDEA where I am going, but I am following THE ONE Who DOES!!!
Last night, I committed (along with a few others) to take a journey. A journey led by God. And I realize we are very much like Moses and the Children of Israel (except, hopefully NOT the unfaithful part)! But we are on a journey to wherever God leads us!! The key is HE is leading, not us!!
This flies in the face of conventional wisdom. And that’s okay. There are times, as followers of Christ, when conventional wisdom just doesn’t apply. Or, maybe another way to write that is “there are times when God’s wisdom outweighs conventional wisdom!” When, you might ask?? ALL OF THE TIME!!!
So, today I have NO IDEA. And it is WONDERFUL!! Lead on, GOD!!!
You know, it’s interesting to see and hear the different levels of respect for God’s house in 2011. I was talking to a friend Sunday morning before he walked into the sanctuary. He had a travel mug in his hand and was drinking coffee from home. As he stood there and talked to me, he said “I’ve got to finish this before I go in there.” WHY?? RESPECT. Bryan and I both grow un in a age where we were taught to REALIZE we were in God’s house and respect it. I know that was an act of devotion to God, as simple as it might seem.
When I lived in New Orleans, things were different. It was nothing for a kid to get up and move around … and maybe RUN around … during worship. People would drink coffee in the sanctuary. BUT THERE WAS STILL A REVERENCE.
Reverence … RESPECT … for God’s house is an attitude of the HEART. I really do think it extends to EVERY SPECK of His property. In the Youth Assembly Building. In Young Hall. In the Family Life Center. It ALL belongs to God and we should respect and revere it.
But, if we really believe He owns the cattle on a thousand hills … that HE created it all and there is NOTHING that is not subject to Him … then shouldn’t we live our lives EVERYDAY in respect and reverence to Him?? Shouldn’t we behave with a reverence to God NO MATTER WHERE WE ARE??
It really is all a state of the heart! And, what if respect for His House extended to EVERY NOOK AND CRANNY of this planet?? I think maybe it does ….
Last night I attended one of Drew’s basketball games … on Valentine’s Day … Yeah, I know. As we waited for the game before ours to finish, I was disappointed in a man I know. At least, I’ve seen him attend church basketball league games FOR YEARS. I don’t know his name, and that is a good thing right now … Because I believe HE is what is wrong with our church basketball league today.
As the game before ours was winding down, the ref made a call he didn’t like. Have you ever noticed that when a referee makes a call in ANY kind of sport, HALF of the fans there DO NOT LIKE IT??? I wonder why??
Anyway, he went on a tirade that ended with an expletive … I was standing there, stunned, wondering “Did I really hear that??” From that moment on, I had one eye and one ear on this guy. At one point, I think his wife told him I was the pastor at EBC … (Or that I had no father … my lip reading is not great).
Needless to say, he did not say ANOTHER WORD. But when I look at this, it helps me understand why those kids all act like this is life-or-death. THIS IS CHURCH BASKETBALL. That is all. Not something to die over. Certainly not something to step into God’s house and cuss about.
Any spectator in the EBC FLC is an invited guest of EBC. And, legally, we can ask someone not to return if their activity warrants it. The next time I hear anyone yelling like that, you can bet I will ask them to leave. Our referees (who have control of the entire gym during a game) will be instructed to do the same.
And I sit here, not surprised, but disappointed …
On February 3, 2001, Ebenezer made a bold and daring move. Some said it was a great one. Some said disastrous. They called their former youth pastor as their senior pastor. And life has never been the same since …
And I realized this week that the tenth anniversary of that day had passed. I will never forget that day, nor will I forget the events leading up to it!!
Ebenezer had been through some tough years (some of which I was a part, and some before we came to Florence). In August of 1999 I was asked to preach for six Sundays while the Pastor Search Committee found an interim pastor so they could begin their search. I’ve been doing that almost every Sunday since then!!
But on the Sunday the vote … the Sunday when I had to preach a trial sermon … WOW. I don’t think I’ve ever felt that kind of pressure or been on that much of an emotional rollercoaster in my life!! You cannot imagine and I hope you never have to experience it. It really brought me face-to-face with how much I love Ebenezer and how much I really had to trust God to carry me. I’ll never forget that day!
When I look back over those years, I KNOW God was in control and had a plan because there is NO WAY I COULD’VE MADE IT WITHOUT HIM!! We’ve been through some really tough times and some great times, too! And I can honestly say I’ve never been more excited about what God is doing in this place than RIGHT NOW!! My prayer is that He will restore my first love for this place and keep leading all of us toward HIS goals for Ebenezer!!!
I take my role as a shepherd at EBC very seriously. And it used to really bother me when I saw people openly thumbing their noses at God. Making excuses. It would really bend me out of my frame to have people tell me the reasons why they were unable to attend church, and by extension unable to put God first in their lives, and yet they have the time and money to engage in recreation, travel, livin it up. And for YEARS it bothered me.
And now, times are changing. I have fretted over things like this. I’ve let them get under my skin. I’ve even let them derail me from doing what God called me to do at times. And God has finally given me a peace about this.
And, that is probably one of the strangest things you will ever see a pastor write. But it’s true. No, I do not LIKE the fact that sheep so openly live lives that are careless toward God. And toward His church. I guess social media has made this all the more open and obvious. But God has begun to minister to me on this and has assured me of two things:
1. HE will handle those issues.
2. There are some, unfortunately, that will miss out as He sweeps us up in His arms and moves forward!!
This is still tremendously sad. But it is a fact of life. My hope and prayer is that YOU will be part of what HE is doing at Ebenezer (or at YOUR church, wherever that might be!!) BUILD HIS KINGDOM!! Seek first the Kingdom of God and HIS righteousness!!
IF you don’t care about what God is doing in your life, around your life, and around EBC, you probably DO NOT want to attend worship this Sunday. I am not writing this as a gimmick or trying to draw attention. I am serious.
I believe with all of my heart God is tired of games, and there are too many people at Ebenezer (and many other churches around the nation) who are playing games with Him and playing games with His church. It’s time to DO THE RIGHT THING, EBENEZER.
Lately, Ebenezerites have heard me refer to spiritual warfare a great deal. Some probably think I’ve gone off the deep end, but I remind you spiritual warfare is real, biblical, and happening DAILY all around us. If you believe Satan is NOT at work attacking God’s church, you are EXACTLY where he wants you to be!!!
Last week, as weekly staff meeting wound down, this topic came up as a prayer request. Then, like dominoes, it all started: Every person in that circle brought forward an area in their ministry where there are MAJOR ATTACKS RIGHT NOW! And we all sat there a little stunned because we had NO IDEA each person in that room had specific attacks going on. SEVERAL of the attacks were coming from the same source. And it reminded us we need to PRAY FOR EACH OTHER!!
You can believe this: I LOVE OUR STAFF AT EBC. And it pains me greatly when they are hurting. We had an awesome group therapy session that ended with the reminder that we are called to LOVE ALL and pray God will work and fight these spiritual battles for us!! Satan wants us to take these things personally and square-off against PEOPLE instead of recognizing this for what it is: SPIRITUAL WARFARE.
Sometimes I wonder why good people will allow themselves to be used as pawns in this warfare. WHENEVER WE FOCUS ON OUR WANTS INSTEAD OF GOD’S WILL, THIS WILL HAPPEN!!!! Some of us get into the habit of believing God’s will is whatever we want … That’s a dangerous habit.
So, as Paul reminded us, we need to put on the full armor of God and stand in the gap!! Stand up for each other and ask God to stand for us!! AND HE WILL!!!!