2 Feb

A lifetime and a half ago, I was working as a systems/software developer for an up-and-coming company in Duncan, SC.  Our mainstay?  Analyzing manual work systems and enabling our clients to collect data and use it to make things better.  This was in the day and age when there was no iPhone app for that.  There was NO IPHONE!!  We barely had electricity and did our math homework on the back of a flat shovel with a piece of coal because we had no pencils ….

ANYWHO …. One of the industry buzzwords that one of my bosses latched onto was “pseudo-code.”  He would come in and want me to develop this elaborate software FIRST in pseudo-code, basically in English as a sort of logical walkthrough.  I always resisted and didn’t see the point in doing the work TWICE.  Why not just code it??  We all understood the actual code, so why would we create a false code, other than to fulfill the popular buzzword???  Never saw the point in that …

This week I was talking to some friends who asked an interesting question:  “Why don’t you preach a sermon about how judgemental people become when they start following Christ?”  Why do people find Christ and then, all of the sudden, become super-judgemental?

I attribute that to the pseudo-code of the day.  Pseudo means “false… Pretend…  Unreal.”  We, as the church, are sometimes guilty of developing a false culture.  A culture in which everyone must DO the same things, like the same movies and books, listen to the same music, dress the same way.  And when someone doesn’t do these things, we judge them.  Sometimes we even cast them out.

HOW TERRIBLY FRIGHTENING AND DANGEROUS!!!!!!!  It is one thing to hold each other, as the church, to a biblical standard.  We are DEFINITELY called to do that.  IN LOVE.  But it is an entirely different thing to hold each other to a standard we have developed.  Because RIGHT and WRONG all becomes subjective.  At the whim of the PERSON who dictates the culture.  The IMPERFECT PERSON who will also make mistakes.  It becomes a Pseudo-Culture.

We talked about this on Wednesday evening at EBC.  It does seem far easier to attempt to TELL everyone how to live, what to wear, and what to do in life.  When we do this, we are bordering on telling the world “YOU MUST BE LIKE US BEFORE YOU CAN BE SAVED!” We are selling short the process of Sanctification, which is not our job but the job of the HOLY SPIRIT.

As the church, we are called to deal with the HEART CONDITION.  To Go Make Disciples.  To Baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  And to Teach them THE WORD OF GOD.  And to love them as much as we love ourselves.

Why do we judge so harshly??  Jesus reminded us in the Sermon on the Mount to be careful of how we judge, because the same measure we use might just be used to judge US someday………

First Love Lost

25 Jan

Last night we began our study of Revelations in Wednesday Bible Study.  I learned at least TWO things:  1) people are VERY INTERESTED in this apochalyptic work.  2) It is EASY to bog down in minutia and miss the main point of John’s work.

After talking about theories and views of this mystical book, we started moving through the scripture.  We came to the first message, to the church at Ephesus. I hope and pray this would not be Ebenezer, but I see so many similarities.

Jesus told this church “I see all of the things you are doing well, and you do many of them.  But THIS I have against you:  You have lost your FIRST LOVE.”

Passion.  God led me to preach about it last Sunday, and it comes up again this Sunday. Do you remember what it was like when you first came to know Christ??  How you couldn’t wait to tell others, and did not want those you love to miss what Jesus Christ can do for their lives??

How is that going now???

Jesus told that church “If you do not find your first love, I will remove your lamp from its stand.”  I KNOW if we fail to reach those around us, God will raise up another that will.  And we will miss out on the tremendous blessing of helping others know Him.  And a sad day that would be.

Can I get a Witness?

21 Nov

Those of us who follow Christ have heard talk all of our lives about protecting our “witness”…  Having a good “witness” …  What in the church-speaking world is that??

I could go on and on about this and beat around the bush a little, but I haven’t had enough coffee at this point in the day to do that.  So, simply stated, your Christian “witness” is actually the reflection of God, of Christ and His love that radiates out of your life.  It is how much of God that others see in you.  Like it or not, many people will judge the reality of God by how well YOU reflect Him (if you claim to be a disciple).  They look at you and me and want to see if God’s love is genuine.  If He is real.  What they are REALLY seeing is how real He is to us!

Some will immediately claim this as unfair.  We will speak of our own imperfections and try to dismiss our behavior with a myriad of excuses.  And that is pointless.

People who do not know Christ want to know more.  They want to see that He is real.  They want to experience the difference that He makes in lives.  So they draw near YOU and ME.  And wait.

What will they see this week??

People of The Light

20 Nov

The third chapter of the Gospel of John tells the story of a man named Nicodemus.  Nick was a Pharisee, and yet he KNEW Jesus was sent from God.  He was one of the few.  He sought Jesus out at night to ask Him the most important question anyone can ask … And he never even got to ask it!!

Jesus beat Nick to the punch:  “No one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”

Jesus went on to explain:  Just as we all have a physical birth, we must also have a spiritual birth.  A re-birth, if you will.  When we turn our lives over to Christ, we are borne anew!!  And we must be people of the Light!

These words are still true for us today:  Light has come into the world, but men (and women) love darkness instead of light.  Because their deeds are evil.  (And by evil, I believe Jesus is referring to the fact that HUMAN NATURE is opposed to God’s nature.  We naturally want our own way and naturally rebel against God’s way.)  Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light.  Because they do not want their deeds to be seen.  And, whoever lives by the truth comes into the light.  Because they are living in a way that they don’t mind if their deeds are seen.

Ironically, God sees ALL.  Things done in the light and things done in the darkness.  What is He seeing in you?  What are you saying?  Doing?  Posting on social media?  Teaching your children?  Modeling for others to see?

One of those things that should make you go “Hmmmmmmmm”

Sometimes, we forget

7 Nov

Strength.  A must-have to make it through life today.  All of the stress of life bears down, tightens, wrings you out.  You must have strength to make it through.  From where do YOU draw your strength?

Yesterday I was talking to a friend about basketball drills.  Those difficult physical challenges our coaches placed before us at countless practices.  The best drills have purpose:  Build stamina … Target specific muscle groups … Wear out a bunch of smart-alec teenagers who think they have the answer to everything but really know nothing …  I had a coach in high school that would make us run cross country for our late summer/fall conditioning.  Then, the first two weeks of practice we wouldn’t even SEE a basketball.  Nothing but sprints, drills, jumping, and other physical challenges.  And, honestly, we were in awesome shape when the season started!!  (Didn’t win too many games … but we could run with ANYONE.)

HOWEVER … Basketball is not life.  Basketball is a sprint.  Life is more of a long race.  A feat of endurance.  A matter of pace.  And you will need a DEEP WELL of strength to make it.

I believe this is why God gave us Proverbs 3:5-6.  Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.  In all of your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight!  If you are going to MAKE IT in this race, you need HIM!!  You need HIS STRENGTH!!  You need to TRUST HIM!!

Candidly, I will admit that I sometimes forget the previous fact.  Yes, me … A “pastor.”  Not listening to my own sermons again.  I try to put my head down and muddle through life.  And I grow weak.  And life keeps coming like a fire hydrant spraying water into your face.  And the stress presses in.  Then frustration.  Anger.  Helplessness.

And then I realize that I cannot FIX others.  I cannot even FIX myself.  But those words Solomon wrote in Proverbs 3 shine like a beacon.  And I needed to remember.  I can trust Him … He is ALREADY AT WORK on all of it!!  I just need to open my eyes and see Him!!

The Next Pandemic

23 Aug

It is on the horizon … I can feel it.

Almost everyone would agree that we live in a world on the brink.  Here we are, teetering back and forth, about to fall over the edge.  As the great Andi Hill just said, “you cannot go anywhere in life without drama.”  Drama in families.  Drama at work.  Drama in communities.  Drama in our churches.  Political drama.  Social drama.  Drama, drama, drama!!!!  (Not to be confused with Marcia, Marcia, Marcia)

It seems everyone is so easily offended these days that you cannot say or write anything.  BLUE is my favorite color.  (True story).  Now I will be getting hate mail and “requests for retraction” from the League of Red, the Yellow Party, and the Pink Ponies.

I thought the Great American Eclipse had an interesting effect on social media. For about a solid day, there was very little hate and abuse.  Just marveling at God’s creation (whether they realized it or not).  For about 24 hours, we were united.  And amazed.  And it was terrific!!

But, now, BACK TO WORK!!  Let’s point out all of the mistakes our leaders made, let’s highlight the hate, let’s do our part to tear this world into multiple pieces.


Honestly, here is the pandemic:  WE have become a people who do not live for GOD in any way, shape, or form.  Over the past few months, I see the hate building.  And sadly I have seen people who profess Christ as Savior fueling this fire just as much as anyone else.


I see it in how our children are being raised.  I see it in our worship, in our outward faithfulness to God through BEING THERE, through SERVING, and through GIVING.  I see it in the fruit that is NOT present in the lives of those who claim Jesus.  In how we fail to LOVE.

I see it in the hate.  God has become a little more than a figurehead.  A good luck charm.

How will all of that turn out for us?  Why don’t you ask the Children of Israel how it always turned out for them when they relegated God to a symbol.

(You REALLY don’t want to know ….)

Stop the PANDEMIC!!  Stop the HATE!!  Learn to LOVE with Christ’s kind of love.  Before it is too late!

That Steeple Though…

12 Jul

The word for this is BEAUTIFUL…

For only a couple of days, I have returned.  And it still feels like home.  Many of the names and faces here have changed. But this city remains the same!  Great food.  Awesome music!  And plenty of work to be done.

New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary was planted in this city decades ago because of the mission-rich environment in the Big Easy.  And to make a long story short, God moved me and my little family here from Upstate SC 25 years ago.  

In SC, we take steeples for granted.  There seems to be one on almost every church in every corner.  This is not the case in New Orleans.  There aren’t many churches and even fewer steeples.  And when this country boy moved over 600 miles from family and friends into the huge, unforgiving city, the sight of this steeple would make my heart skip a beat.  When I saw this steeple, I was reminded that God is active in this city.  And safety…. and home… was just under the shadow of that steeple.

Yesterday when I drove back onto this campus for the first time in 11 years, my heart skipped a beat. Because in the heart of this great city, home is still there.  That steeple still proudly rises above Gentilly Boulevard.  

And God is still working a beautiful work right here in the heart of New Orleans.  (Is it any wonder why my eyes leak a little every time I look at it???)