Archive | March, 2009


31 Mar

Maybe I am too easily baffled by this, but I am amazed at the lack of faithfulness and loyalty among people today. Of course, I remember the days when a professional team drafted a player and that player stayed there for the rest of his career. I remember the days when a company hired someone out of college and they could count on a job, and being treated well, for the rest of their career.

THOSE DAYS ARE GONE!!! I still remember the day Dale Murphy left the Atlanta Braves and became a Phillie. A PHILLIE!!! That is just like leaving the Confederate army and becoming a YANKEE (for those Southerners out there). Murphy’s move was controversial . . . and about money.

NOW DAYS, that kind of move seems as pure as the milk Dale Murphy drank on tv commercials!! Corporations have no faithfulness and loyalty to their workers, and in turn, we are becoming a society just like that. We have no loyalty either. And it is filtering its way down.

It has already hit the church, and will continue to do so. And that is a sad day. Are we becoming a consumer exchange?? We are supposed to be a FAMILY. And, you don’t just walk out on family. And that is where it is all headed . . . As loyalties die out down the line, this mindset will eventually attack the family.

Hmmm . . . I wonder WHERE this mindset comes from???

Going where God leads

30 Mar

A frequent topic of sermons at Ebenezer, going WHERE God leads is one of the most important things a Christian can do. We believe it at EBC, we preach it at EBC, and I pray that we live it at EBC.

In keeping with the consistency of all of that, did you know that most pastors PREACH what God leads?? Different processes are used, but most pastors I know REALLY listen to God and preach what they feel He wants them to preach. Some plan for months in advance. Some choose from week to week. But most pastors I know allow God to take the lead when it comes to their pulpits.

And I am no different. I pray, I keep my eyes open, and I seek His inspiration. And if I am REALLY SEEKING Him, He never lets me down!!! I love His consistency . . . Although we will never fully understand Him in this life, there are things we can count on to be far more consistent that we even imagine!!!

And if I didn’t do it this way . . . and if those other pastors I know didn’t do it this way . . . How could we preach trust if we don’t practice it ourselves???

Allowing our children to EARN THEIR SPOT

27 Mar

I’ve played sports all of my life (contrary to my appearance). One thing I learned, playing four varsity sports in high school, is that you have to earn your spot. YOU HAVE TO WORK HARD if you want to play.

I could wax philosophic on this for hours, but here is the bottom line: DON’T THINK YOU ARE DOING YOUR KID A FAVOR IF YOU THINK YOU HAVE TO CUSS THE COACH OUT TO GET THEM A SPOT ON THE FIELD!!! Hear me?? If your kid has a bad game, is it possible that it could actually be YOUR KID’S FAULT instead of the coach??

One thing I have learned in the last decade of youth ministry and pastoral ministry: We are quickly becoming a generation that blames EVERYONE ELSE for our own shortcomings. Do yourself, and your child a favor: Let them earn their own spot.

For everything there is a season

25 Mar

A time to laugh, a time to cry. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to blog and a time to refrain from blogging.

Yep, I wrote it. And I’ve been there for the past few days. One of the difficulties of being a pastor is that there are things that happen in life that I cannot blog about. I have often thought about publishing an anonymous blog where I could write anything, but then I ask, WHO could I tell?? Maybe I should start writing a book??

Rest assured that God is still on His throne and He sees and knows all. And His justice is far more complete than we can comprehend. And I am glad I know Him!!

Where did all of the trees go???

20 Mar

A question often asked of me, as pastor at Ebenezer. A few weeks ago the SC Dept. of Transportation came through (in the name of progress) and cut down several 100+ year old trees. And FLORENCE IS MAD!!

Several folks asked me “Why did you guys do that??” My answer is always the same: “We didn’t do it, and we are not happy about it.” Two of the trees were live oak trees and were almost icons of Ebenezer. Many, many people told me about when they were children playing near them. (I am also amazed at the number of people I’ve met over the years that were once members at EBC)

As Ed Self and I often discuss, all of the woods in Florence County are slowly disappearing. No wonder three does were in the grassy area in front of the church at 7am a couple of weeks ago.

I just hope my children are never in the position of hearing one of their kids say, “What are trees?”

I have never considered myself to be a tree-hugger, but WAKE UP PEOPLE!!!!

A Time to Dance

19 Mar

(A note about yesterday’s blog: IF your comment did not discuss the curse, I did not post it. A couple of comments were just insulting to non-Gamecocks, had nothing to do with the curse, and they didn’t make the cut)

Yes, Ecclesiastes 3 says there is a time to dance . . . And the band is warming up!! Actually, the tourney started on Tuesday with the play-in game. I don’t even know who won it, and rest assured they did not move forward on my bracket. My overall winner . . . YOU KNOW IT IS THE TARHEELS!!! I am not a happy camper about Ty Lawson missing the first game, but there is nothing I can do about it.


The Chicken Curse at it again???

18 Mar

Here is one for all of you Sandlappers . . . Is there such a thing as the Chicken Curse?? If you want the background on the alledged curse, google it . . . It is quite a story. And, alledgedly, it will prevent the USC Gamecocks from ever really being successful on a national level in sports. My question for you, today, is this: IS IT REAL??? As a pastor, you know I would say there is no such thing . . . But as a former athlete who would not wash his socks during a winning streak in high school (yep, guys, that was ME stinking it up), you gotta wonder . . .

What do YOU think?? Reply and let everyone know! And, although I want him to reply, I will go ahead and tell you that Joel Fowler thinks so. And after last night, I KNOW he went to bed thinking about the chicken curse . . . AND LAUGHING.

What do YOU think?

The Sting of Death

17 Mar

Paul told us that the sting of death is sin. He wrote that in I Corinthians 15. I believe he was writing about the impact sin has on our lives and how it can cause separation from God, and ETERNAL separation if left unchecked and unconfessed. But that is NOT what I am writing about today.

I just finished writing the second of two funerals this week. One yesterday, one a little later this morning. This one, however, stings a little. This one exposes some old scars and after years and years, they are still tender.

Death can be difficult for the living. We have never faced it, do not really understand it, and when someone we love dies we have a difficult time with the fact that we will never see them again on this earth. We can expect death, we learn to deal with it as those around us die. Older family members pass away, and we applaud their longevity. That doesn’t make it any easier on us, but we think it will. We tell ourselves the things we need to hear to ease the pain.

One of the things I remembered this week is how difficult it is for a young person to deal with death. When death slaps them in the face, it can hurt and it can alter their perspective on life. A friend this week lost his father. Okay, he is more than a friend: He is Krissy’s boyfriend. And where his father was an older man, the pain of death is still very real and very raw for he and his family. No matter how old a person is, or no matter how bad their health, it is still difficult for those left behind.

Watching his family endure these days reminds me of something that happened many years ago. Something I am still not ready to write about. And it has reminded me of another time, and some other young people who were slapped in the face by death. And it was hard. And it still is today.

Yes, I DO believe that we all have an appointed time to die. Ecclesiastes 3 and Hebrews 9 confirm that. But that doesn’t make it any easier for those who remain.

Over all of these years, there is ONE THING I know someone can count on in a time like this: GOD REALLY DOES CARE ABOUT YOU. He will walk this path with you. When Jesus wept at Lazarus’ tomb, that confirms to me that God really DOES feel our pain. And He will walk every step of the difficult road ahead with us!!

That, friends, is the ONLY HOPE we have. And He is the ONLY HOPE we need!!!

Pain and Life

16 Mar

This weekend I was reminded of the pain of life. As a pastor, I constantly deal with people in pain. Pain takes different kinds of forms: Physical pain, spiritual pain, emotional pain. No matter what form it takes, pain is often present in the lives of those I try to help.

This weekend, within 14 hours of each other, I tried to help two families who were touched by death. In both cases, a husband and father died and the family was left to pick up the pieces of life. And, death can be very painful — especially when it comes without warning.

I’ve heard all kinds of things about pain and life in my years. You have, too. Statements like: Without pain, we would not know how joy, happiness, and health feel. There are other, similar ideas. But those who know me know that I am WAY to shallow of a thinker to go there.

I do agree with that old saying that “it is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.” That is a loose quote from Alfred Lord Tennyson. Today, I know what he is saying. The reason death can be so painful for us . . . the living, those who remain . . . is that we LOVE. And, all in all, it IS better to have had our loved one and to have all the memories we have than to never have loved that one.

Okay, the PLAIN way to say this is: As painful as death is, we should be thankful that we had them to love to begin with . . . That doesn’t stop the immediate pain we are in, but somewhere down the road it gives us a reason to celebrate.

Pain IS a fact of life. God is there to walk us through EVERY STEP of it.

Hot, Cold, Hot, Cold, Rain

13 Mar

Okay, IS Al Gore right??? DID he invent the internet?? (HAHAHAHAHA)

Seriously, what is the deal with the weather in Florence, SC, this week?? As the rollercoaster goes, it was 84 degrees on Wednesday and the projected high today is 46. My sinuses cannot take it!! I am not opposed to cold weather, but once it warms up I am ready for the cold to go away. Last night at the WF softball game the wind was cutting through us in an unbelievable way. It took FOREVER to warm up last night.

I must be gettin old.