Archive | December, 2008

The Last Day of 2008

31 Dec

You have less than 24 hours of the year 2008 remaining . . . WHAT WILL YOU DO??

There are a variety of possibilities: You could go fishing. You could go to Wal-Mart. You could go to a movie. You could go to the gym. You could run around your neighborhood with a tortilla shell on your head. You could veg out and watch TV all day. You could paint. You could play chess. You could eat a salad. You could listen to your favorite music. You could rotate your tires. You could play Twister. You could take down your Christmas decorations. You could NOT DRINK. You could play video games. You could clean out your refrigerator. You could go to the park. You could go for a walk. You could go for a drive. You could call an old friend. You could clean up your yard. You could go visit your parents. You could read your Bible. You could wear pajamas all day. You could sit on your porch and talk to people as they walk by. You could ride a bike. You could go to the beach. You could go to the mountains. You could reorganize your attic. You could clean out your garage. You could punish your kids for no reason. You could wash your windows. You could have an impromptu root canal. You could eat a twinkie. You could write mindless things on your blog. You could send out spam. You could dye your hair. You could build a giant magnifying glass in front of your television to make it look bigger. You could stay home. You could play football with your kids. You could cook. You could eat out. You could dye your grass blue.

So whatcha gonna do??

What a day off!!

30 Dec

I just counted my cell phone calls from yesterday . . . Alledgedly, I am taking some vacation this week. (And, losing some after Wednesday) And, on my “day off” I got 32 calls that were work-related.

I wonder, should I turn it off?? That is a no-brainer. But with two deaths this week, I am unable to do that.

But, WOW!! There is no such thing as a vacation day when you are in town.

A Life that Blesses

29 Dec

Would YOU lead a life that blesses others?? Do you know anyone that does??

I do. A friend for many years. An encourager. A man of faith. A strong, Godly man. I will do his funeral on Wednesday (and it will be exponentially difficult).

His name – Wallace Fulmer. He has a wonderful wife, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. He lived to the age of 85 . . . A good, long life, but those of us who love him selfishly wish it was much longer. He served on a submarine in World War II, quite a feat for a tall, lanky kid. He worked for the railroad for his entire career. He’d been a member of Ebenezer since the late 1950s. He served as a deacon, Sunday School teacher, on countless committees, and as a mentor and friend to many, many people that walked the halls of 524 S Ebenezer Road with him. He lived a life that blessed others, both in his WORDS and in his DEEDS.

I met Wallace when I came to EBC on June, 1995. He was tall and big like a bear . . . NOT OVERWEIGHT by any means, just a big ol’ boy. Even then, at 72, his handshake could BREAK YOUR HAND. (He gave me that same handshake, and yes, almost broke my hand again two weeks ago in the hospital).

He was the kind of guy who didn’t go around poking his nose in other’s business, but if asked, he would offer the best advice. And, a lot of people asked. There IS wisdom in years lived, and Wallace was a wise man. He was STILL the kind of leader that will be irreplacable at Ebenezer.

He loved children. I know he was a great grandfather. Wallace always wanted to know what my son was doing, and if he saw Drew at church, he would ask him a few questions (to make sure he was behaving) and then give him a peppermint. He really got a kick out of checking in on Drew and the others his age. I think Wallace saw a lot of himself in some of those guys.

I saw him and I heard him sharing encouragement and blessings with LITERALLY hundreds of people. In a world where most older church leaders would not appreciate an influx of young families, Ebenezer is set apart: Its older leaders have ALWAYS encouraged me to keep doing whatever it takes to bring young families in. Wallace was at the front of that line telling me that the most.

Why am I writing this?? In all of the years I have known him, picked on him (in self-defense), visited with he and Eula, he had never done what he did two weeks ago (just before he was discharged from the hospital). I went up to visit him on the day he went back home. We talked for a few minutes. As I usually do, we prayed together. Then I told him I would see him later.

I walked out the door of that 7th floor room at McLeod and I heard him call my name. He said “I’ve got something I need to tell you.” I went back in and he really humbled me. He told me how much it meant to him to have me as his pastor, and it was a long conversation.

Wallace was my friend back when I was the youth minister. He had encouraged me every step of the way. When Ebenezer called me as pastor almost 8 years ago, no one at EBC was prouder than Wallace.

This morning, it hit me . . . That was the last thing he ever said to me. I’ll treasure those words . . . Ironically, he had shared the same words with Aaron Chaney a few days before and Aaron had emailed me. I actually have the words he said in an EMAIL!! That blessing is what I will remember most about my friend, Wallace Fulmer.

And, even if he had never said those things to me, I would never forget him. I’ve not seen too many people who LIVED the Greatest Commandment like Wallace. And that just reminds me that while Heaven is a little bit better today, this earth will get a little worse unless we sinch up our belts and get to work . . .

For those of us who knew and loved Wallace, it is time to get to work and take up the slack.

Is Christmas really over??

29 Dec

The date is December 29, 2008. The New Year is coming, full steam ahead. It is four days after Christmas Day. CAN Christmas REALLY be over??

When I was a kid, I thought Christmas should be EVERYDAY. I loved getting presents, and will freely admit that is what Christmas meant to me. The electricity surrounding Christmas was like NOTHING ELSE I knew. Words cannot explain it, but every year there are some things that give me that same feeling by reminding me of days gone by.

As an adult, the electricity is fading . . . My children still love Christmas Day, but at 18 and 13, it is not quite the same. HOWEVER . . . Now that my heart is tuned into the REAL meaning of Christmas, I realize it is NOT OVER. Truth is, it is NEVER over.

Christmas is ENTIRELY about God’s gift of salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ. A gift that is available to anyone EVERY DAY of the year. Ironically, I was RIGHT when I was a kid — just for the wrong reasons. But that’s okay.

That puts a different kind of charge in my heart . . . A BETTER one. Cool. Christmas IS everyday!!!!!

Twas the Morning After Christmas

26 Dec

Twas the morning after Christmas
And all through the house
Barely a creature stirring
And, no sign of a mouse.

The children, still nestled
All snug in their beds
As visions of Wii
Dance in their heads.

Ma doesn’t wear a kerchief
And I have no cap
Sitting in my parents’ den
Notebook in my lap.

And, what to my sleeply eyes
Doth appear??
Bills, bills, and more bills
Enough to choke a deer.

The presents all opened
The snacks are half gone
And, any small remnant
Of my diet is blown.

And, now, a still moment
To ponder the reason
Of why God began
The first Christmas season.

God loves us so much
Beyond what we know
That He sent His Son
Whose light would soon glow.

His earthly light
Shone bright as a star
And by His disciples
Would spread to afar.

His light, not doused
As He hung on a tree
A tomb could not hold Him
And, He did it for me . . .

For me, and for you
He paid for our sin
He defeated death
And our souls He would win.

And now, our job
The meaning of Christmas
This act of God’s Son.

And now, I do wonder
What will we do
That the presents are opened
And Christmas parties are through?

Will we work hard
To tell the whole world
Or will we keep quiet
Keep His banner furled?

Will we be like Santa
And take a year’s rest
OR will be be like Paul
And give Him our best?

We will each make a choice
Each day and each night
Merry Christmas to all
And I hope yours is RIGHT!

Brrr …

23 Dec

Its about time!! It was supposed to get down to 20 or so last night. I don’t think it did, not that I would know. But it is COLD!! Christmas is REALLY HERE!! Will we have a white Christmas?? Only if I stand on the roof and shake potato flakes out of a box as my kids get up on Thursday, but I guess I COULD …

As we move closer to our wonderful holiday, remember there are many in need this holiday season. We’ve received a record number of phone calls this year, and there are more to come. There are many people in our region who need help. Are you willing??

Also, we cannot forget our soldiers around the world who protect the freedoms we enjoy day-in and day-out. Some of them stand posts in weather MUCH COLDER than 20 degrees. They sacrifice time with their families, their homes, and the comforts only provided by freedom. They make these sacrifices so WE can enjoy them. PRAY for our men and women of the armed forces as you enjoy this most sacred holiday.

If we would all work for peace on earth, maybe they could be HOME next Christmas!

Christmas Week

22 Dec

Here we are!!! Santa Claus is comin to town, READY OR NOT!!! Are you ready??

This week will be like a rollercoaster. Two days to get ready for a weeks’ worth of stuff at church. It WILL be a rollercoaster, and I WILL work on some of this stuff at home. The only problem with that is I will have to do some of the work on Greenville, and that is always tough.

Hope you have all of your shopping done, and if not, take a BODYGUARD with you to the mall!!!

Holiday Struggles

18 Dec

Hard to believe in such a joyous time of the year that there could be intense pressure . . . RIGHT?? And I am NOT writing about the pressure to find the right gift, or to finish all of the shopping and preparations for holiday festivities. Yes, those can bring pressure, but not like some of those below . . .

One difficulty of the Thanksgiving/Christmas seasons is the heartache of facing that first holiday without a specific loved one . . . Maybe due to death, divorce, or some other type of separation. Families struggle with painful memories during this time and the holiday itself, along with special, traditional activities at church and in the community can be stressful and emotional.

Another struggle in this season comes when families have internal strife. When families are not getting along for one reason or another. This can bring great stress and consternation to all involved, even when two family members are not in agreement with each other.

ANOTHER struggle, intensified this year, is the financial struggle. Let’s face it: Our economy is not great right now, and many of us feel obligated to maintain our Christmas giving at a certain level, perhaps a level easier to achieve in years past. The strain will be felt all along the economic food chain.

What can we do?? USE COMMON SENSE. Be on the lookout for those who are hurting, struggling, and trust God to lead you in what to do. Sometimes all you can do is pray, and that is ALOT. FOLLOW GOD and He will help you help them. ALSO, use common sense this year in your Christmas giving.

If each of us tries, we will ALL make a difference.

Santa Claus is coming . . . And has already been here

17 Dec

Richard McCabe tells a great Santa Claus story from this weekend. Not the usual funny story that Richard is famous for . . . One that will tear your heart out. If you know Richard, ask him about it.

If I could interview ole St Nick, I wonder what he would say about children today. I bet he would tell us that children are very honest with him when they share their Christmas wishes. And don’t believe those wishes are always the most expensive toys, or wishes that would amount to greed if they came out of the mouth of an adult. Sometimes children today wish for things like peace on Earth, or at least peace in their home. Sometimes they wish for separated parents to reunite, or a wayward parent or sibling to come home. Children are not as greedy and selfish as the world paints them.

Sometimes we need to open our eyes and ears and really see and hear what our children want . . . What they really want. Many times those things are not found in a store at all.

What will you give your kids/grandkids/nieces and nephews this Christmas????

On the OUTSIDE looking IN . . .

16 Dec

There are people on our periphery who ARE on the outside looking in. In the world that is our church (as is EVERY church), that is true. I am NOT writing of those who are purposefully kept outside. IN A CHURCH THAT SHOULD NEVER HAPPEN. No, there are people who are almost connected to Ebenezer that see enough about us to know us, and yet are not part of us. I wonder what they see?

They see good things happening. Certainly they do. They hear the buzz about what God is doing, and I pray it brings them in closer and hopefully is what helps them cross the line and come inside. THAT IS WHY WE EXIST, right??? And my prayer is that God is drawing new members in!

They also see the bad things. Hear the rumors. See the baggage. Smell the foul odors. And sometimes they even feel the pain. And some of that is what KEEPS them on the outside. That is a fact.

Okay, the truth is, there will always be some who are on the outside looking in. And when they see the good things about us, that is usually GOD. And when they see the bad stuff, that is always US.

What are they seeing right now??