Archive | September, 2010

Is there anything funny about growing old??

28 Sep

(Today’s post from http://www.mikeysfunnies.com)

You know you’re growing old when…

~ You’ve come to the annoying realization that your parents were right about almost everything.

~ The bag boy volunteers to help load groceries into your car-in the “ten items or less” lane.

~ You’ve stopped supporting your children and started supporting your parents.

~ You buy “age-defying” makeup and “anti-wrinkle” creams and believe they work.

~ You’ve realized that all those geeky people in Bermuda shorts walking around Disney World include you.

~ You’ve had three opportunities to buy every single Disney Animated Classic … “for the last time in a generation”

today’sTHOT============================

My short-term memory is not as sharp as it used to be. Also, my short-term memory’s not as sharp as it used to be.

Knowing God’s Will

27 Sep

Many people who are MUCH SMARTER in THEOLOGICAL realms have written many books, papers, and articles about knowing God’s will for our lives.  So why tackle this on a rainy Monday morning in the FloSC??  Because IT’S MY TURN!!  We touched a little on this yesterday in worship and I want to deal with it a little more today …

In Jeremiah 29, God assured the Children of Israel He WOULD bring them back from captivity in Babylon.  Even though life seemed hopeless, there was still hope for them!!

In verses 11-13, God said these words:  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

I believe these words hold true to us as well!!  Even though this was specifically directed to these in captivity, God’s nature rings through loud and clear in this passage:  He has a plan for YOU!!  A GOOD PLAN!!  God desires that you KNOW HOPE and KNOW that He has plans for YOUR FUTURE!!

The discovery of this plan can be as much of a journey as YOU desire it to be … In Pee Dee-speak, you can really BOG DOWN IN THE MUD on this one if you are not careful!!  Finding God’s will for your life is not as difficult as you might imagine!  Sure, there are times when we need a specific answer and God requires us to wait … His timing is ALWAYS PERFECT!

But Jesus gave us a very specific starting place with this, which you will find in Matthew 28 and in Acts 1.  We are called to be IMPERFECT VESSELS carrying the GOOD NEWS of JESUS CHRIST to all the world!!!  We are called to GO MAKE DISCIPLES, to BAPTIZE THEM, TO TEACH THEM EVERYTHING HE HAS TAUGHT US.  And we go with HIS POWER and HIS PRESENCE to do it!!

When it comes to specifics of God’s will for our lives, the real question is HOW does He want me to share and WHERE does He want me to share??  Everything else is pretty clear!

Before I get a million contradictory comments, YES, I KNOW GOD CALLS EACH OF US TO SPECIFIC ROLES AND GIFTS IN THE KINGDOM!!  But you have to admit that it all BEGINS with the GREAT COMMISSION!!

The GC is the first step to knowing God’s specific will for your life!!  Until you take that step and begin to tell others, you will be bogged down in the mud!!

Pulling together

23 Sep

I am thankful … Thankful to see God’s people pulling together!!  God’s kingdom, working together to build HIS name, not ours!!

This week, I’ve seen this in two powerful ways.  The first was a luncheon I attended yesterday for the Florence School District One Faith Based Initiative.  I was gathered with other pastors and school administrators all across our school district as we discussed ways for our churches to make a difference.  I have much respect for Dr. Brooks as an educator and a Godly man … we are fortunate to have him at the helm right now.  I am encouraged as I see God at work and churches bridging gaps to make a difference.  I look forward to the work EBC will do at Sneed and at Royall.

Another powerful way I see this is in the testimonies of God’s power at work in the lives of EBC members.  PLEASE KEEP SHARING WITH ME!!!  I LOVE IT and it fuels me to press on!  God is doing so much in the lives of EBC folks and when I see Him at work, it really does infuse a shot of much needed power in me!!

On the tv show “The A-Team,” one of my favorite parts of the show was always at the end when Hannibal would light his cigar and say “I love it when a plan comes together.”  Today I am starting to know what that feels like!!!!  (Quick … somebody get me a cigar!)

Staff Solution

21 Sep

From time to time there are small complaints about our church staff. In an effort to appease everyone, we are firing our entire ministry staff and replacing them with the Ernest_AngleBot 3.0, designed by Robbie Roof and Paul D. Frazier.  We are thankful that the firmware was totally donated by ACS Technologies of Florence, provided Ernest wear an ACS polo shirt autographed by the one and only L. Dean Lisenby.

The AngleBot 3.0 will be equipped with 4G data and full cellular coverage. Will always be available for phone or video consultations. An internal fuse will prevent Ernest from preaching over 22.5 minutes. Multiple Bluetooth connections will allow Ernest to broadcast every type of worship music for the discerning listener. His holographic function will allow him to serve sanctuary, youth, and children’s worship simultaneously. He is the ultimate organizer and doesn’t need volunteers to serve, because he does everything!! No more need for an offering or fundraising … The AngleBot 3.0 is equipped with the latest and greatest printing technology, enabling him to print any needed funds!!

And the best part is he doesn’t even require a salary!! Just plug him into the wall and give him a quart of your finest synthetic oil once a month!!’

Ahhh, the joys of technology!

A Turning Point??

20 Sep

Yesterday was a tough day for me at Ebenezer.  It’s never easy to take a message like that into the pulpit.  But deep down in my heart I KNOW it was the right thing to do!!

If you want to go check it out, hit this link: http://www.truthcasting.com/player.aspx#showChannel=100000030

My prayer is this will be a turning point in our hearts and lives.  A time when we realize that WORSHIP REALLY IS NOT ALL ABOUT US, OUR LIKES, OUR WANTS, OUR COMFORT, OUR CONVENIENCE.  WORSHIP IS ALL ABOUT GOD!!!  So, why don’t we concern ourselves with HIS WANTS???

Seriously … And Jesus Himself TOLD US what God expects:  TRUE WORSHIP happens when we worship Him in spirit and in truth.  When we love Him with all of our hearts, minds, bodies, souls, and all of our strength.  When we love each other MORE than we love ourselves.  When we stop judging each other … Wait, when we stop doing ALL OF THE THINGS that are God’s job!! When we allow Him to be God and we accept that we are His people!!!

I could go on and on, but I hope you get it by now!  We’ve got to get back to all of this being ABOUT HIM and NOT ABOUT US!  We need to WAKE UP and REALIZE that we cannot do this on our own … WE NEED GOD!!  When we start trusting Him THAT WAY, things will start happening for the Kingdom of God that we cannot explain except to KNOW that it is GOD!!

So … is this a turning point?

Membership has its privileges ….

19 Sep

About twelve years ago, someone (who no longer attends EBC or even lives in SC) came to me and told me I should produce a document outlining the rights and privileges of being a member of Ebenezer Baptist Church.  Hmmmph.  After a dozen years, I’ve got a rough-cut list.

But, first:  DID YOU COME TO SERVE, OR TO BE SERVED??

SERIOUSLY??  Do you seek membership with a church BECAUSE OF THE BENEFITS YOU GAIN??  IS THAT WHY JESUS DIED ON THE CROSS, SO YOU COULD HAVE FAMILY LIFE CENTER PRIVILEGES???

Here are the top ten benefits of being a member of Ebenezer (or, pretty much ANY Baptist church):

1.  You have the right to deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Jesus Christ.  COMPLETELY.

2. You have the right to LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD with all of your body, mind, soul. and strength, and you have the right to LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR as you love yourself.

3. You have the right to go and sin no more, as commanded to by Jesus.

4. You have the right to give your TIME, your TALENT, and your TITHE to God.  You also have the right to GIVE YOURSELF COMPLETELY TO HIM AND HIS WILL.

5. You have the right to be judged by the ONE TRUE JUDGE.  Jesus Christ.  You DO NOT have the right to JUDGE OTHERS, as NONE OF US ARE QUALIFIED.

6. You have the right to DISCOVER THE GIFTS AND TALENTS GOD HAS GIVEN YOU and to exercise them with the full empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

7. You have the right to know the Holy Spirit walks with you, intercedes for you, prays for you when you don’t even know what to pray, gives you the words you need when you just can’t come up with them, and in every other way comes alongside you and holds you up for the purposes of the Kingdom of God.

8. You have the right to be salt to a rotting world and to be light to a dark world.

9. You have the right to find God’s perfect plan for your life, and to follow Him into it with great passion!

And, finally …

10. As a Baptist, you have the right to grape juice and tiny crackers about four times a year.

Tired of all the negativity

17 Sep

I’ve got to admit something today … I am on edge.  I am really tired of all the negatives.  All around me.

I’m tired of all of the negatives at church.  Amazed at some of the things people will say about our church and our staff.  Tired of hearing things about my staff, much of which is unfair or untrue.  I wish people would have the guts to take their complaints FACE TO FACE to the source.  If we all did that, this place would be so much better.  And so much more Christ-like.  And I am amazed at some of the things people will complain about.  David Platt is right about our Americanization of the church … we really are turning the church into a straight-up consumer exchange, and that is NOT WHAT GOD INTENDED IN ANY WAY.  We are here for HIS PLEASURE, not OUR PREFERENCES.

I am also tired of all of the hate surrounding college football.  I LOVE COLLEGE FOOTBALL.  But I hate what it turns people into every fall.  And I’ve decided this year I’m not taking part in that stuff.  In person or on Facebook.  Just not gonna go there.  And when people write stuff on my wall that heads that way, thank God I can delete it.  And I WILL delete it.

I’ve been praying about this one, and the way I can make a difference is NOT TO TAKE PART IN IT.  To be as positive as possible!!  And if you feel the same way, maybe you need to do this, too!!!

Too good NOT to share

14 Sep

This, today’s entry from http://www.mikeysfunnies.com, I dedicate to Bryan Howell (owner of Fire it Up here in Florence):

A man is skydiving, enjoying his free-fall, when he realizes that he has reached the altitude where he must open his parachute. So he pulls on the rip cord, but nothing happens.
“No problem,” he says to himself, “I still have my emergency chute.” So he pulls the rip cord on his emergency parachute, and once again, nothing happens. Now the man begins to panic.

“What am I going to do?” he thinks, “I’m a goner…”

Just then he sees a man flying up from the earth toward him. He can’t figure out where this man is coming from, or what he’s doing, but he thinks to himself, “Maybe he can help me. If he can’t, then I’m done for.”

When the man gets close enough to him, the skydiver cups his hands and shouts down, “Hey, do you know anything about parachutes?”

The other man replies, “No! Do you know anything about gas stoves?”

[forwarded by Carol Calvert]

today’sTHOT============================

It’s better to tell your money where to go than to ask where it went.

An update on Dad

14 Sep

It’s been a while since I blogged an update on Dad.  My family and I greatly appreciate all of the prayers offered up for him, and we covet more.

Dad is still at home.  He stands and walks in therapy, and very slowly when transferring from his bed to his wheelchair.  He is not really walking at any other time.  Several months ago when they removed the shunt from his head, they finally replaced it with a smaller-volume drain implanted in his spine.  Since then, he’s had a couple of spinal taps to remove fluid and they make a big difference.  He is in this place where we cannot put another programmable shunt in, because the risk of subdural hemos is too great.  So, every few months, his memory and motor skills get really bad.  That is where he is right now.

He’s been taking outpatient therapy at Roger C. Peace, which has been a good thing.  That wheelchair-accesible van is the best thing we bought … Yesterday, they realized his knee is popping and hurting him pretty badly.  Mom is now trying to get him in to see the doctor about this, but this presents quite a dilemma:  IF his knee needs surgery, he probably won’t be a candidate because of his lack of ability to rehab it.

Today, we don’t know what all of this means.  For the last week or so, he has been able to do significantly less and less in therapy.  Part of it is the pain in his knee and part of it is his lack of being able to complete simple motor skills.  I don’t know what any of us can do but pray.

And I greatly appreciate those who do.

Becoming something we were not supposed to be …

9 Sep

I’ve been reading a book from another fine graduate of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary named David Platt.  Radical discusses the idea that we in the US have “Americanized” the church and taken it to a place Christ never intended.  A place that many churches around the world would never go.  We’ve made it about our comfort and convenience.  Wait a minute … there is the problem right there:  We’ve made it about US instead of about GOD!!!

I’ve been reading this book and evaluating where I am right now.  Where we are right now.  Not only Ebenezer, but churches across this area.  And Platt is correct!

There is something fundamentally WRONG with a church that complains about having to move from the sanctuary to a gymnasium to worship together (for space purposes) when there are men and women around the WORLD worshiping in secret, for DAYS at a time, out of fear for their LIVES.  There is something fundamentally wrong when we have 5 gazillion committees to do 3 million things and only two hundred people sharing all of the jobs.  (Call that ministerial estimation!!)

I am reeling right now about this one:  We have many great programs and ministries at Ebenezer.  Every one that I see has the purpose of pointing adults, youth, and children to Christ; the purpose of helping to support and build a solid relationship with Christ.  Every one of them has the purpose of discipling in some way.  And it just evidences Platt’s premise when, as a senior pastor, I hear more complaints about our programming than I do broken hearts about those who are lost and dying that drive by our church EVERY DAY.  And the REAL church had better do something about this, because pseudo-churches are popping up all over.  Much of their message does not measure up to the words of Christ.

Believers in Christ, we MUST listen to the words of Paul in II Timothy 4:

1In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.

That time is here and now.  What are we gonna do about it? THIS IS NOT BURGER KING!!  We are people, and have many differences.  Let’s work our differences out WITH LOVE.  In fact, Peter said Love overlooks a multitude of sins!!  Why don’t we love each other, sacrifice our comfort, and get about the business God called us to in the first place??

PLEASE BE THE REAL CHURCH!!!  Let’s become what WE ARE SUPPOSED TO BE!!!!