Archive | December, 2011

Beware of what you buy on the Net!!!

29 Dec

Yesterday we FINALLY got back from Easley.  A day later than I’d planned, but that is another story (for me, it felt like that movie “Trapped in Paradise.”)  I was FINALLY able to open one of my Christmas presents that I purposefully waited to open … A Sony Blu-Ray player with internet streaming.  I was so excited!!

I opened it, wired it up, and began the setup.  And something wasn’t right.  The model of blu-ray player we bought had built in WiFi so I wouldn’t have to run a CAT5 line from my router to it.  This one didn’t seem to have that feature.  As I browsed through the setup, it finally occurred to me to check the model number on the front of the unit.  And that explained the entire thing:  The blu-ray player, which was in what seemed to be an unopened box with the right model number and right documentation was the WRONG PLAYER.  As a matter of fact, it was about $50 less of a model than the one for which we paid!!!

Diana contacted Amazon.  She thought she’d bought it directly from them, but instead it was from someone who sells through them.  They sent us a prepaid return shipping label and assurances that they would credit our account once they receive the box.  And THEY would straighten this out with the vendor.

It made me wonder how many people might’ve bought this equipment, and if not looking for the very feature I needed, would’ve installed it and been none the wiser.  I know had my parents bought it that’s exactly what would’ve happened.

So, the moral of the story is:  CAVIAT EMPTOR!!  (Isn’t that what Mike Brady used to say??)  Let the buyer beware!!

Surround yourself with good!

26 Dec

Yesterday I heard some sad news.  About someone I didn’t even know.  But is it still terribly sad. A young man, probably no more than ten years older than me is laying in a hospice house right now in Greenville.  His elderly father sits beside him, faithful until the end, with tears streaming down his face.  Not the Christmas tale I expected to hear yesterday, full of hope and happy endings.  But this is true life.

I do not know him, but his family and my family have been friends for decades.  He was raised by devout Christian parents who believe in Proverbs 22:6, to “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”  And that is exactly what they seemed to do.  But this child chose to go his own way.  More the way of the prodigal son, with a lifestyle filled with drugs and worldly living.  Now, don’t get me wrong: I believe in Proverbs 22:6 as well.  And I have no idea and make no judgments about his soul, because that is not mine to judge.  But, there are a couple of observations about this scenario and I believe are worth pursuing:

1.  Parents can raise multiple children in what appears like the exact same way and they always seem to come out a little differently.  I hear remarks all of the time like:  “How could that kid act like that.  He’s been raised by good parents!!”  We can never forget that each of us has a free will, and many parents have raised children to live godly and clean lives only to see those children chose another path.  That is not a reflection on the parents or their lack of parental skill … that is merely proof that we each have the ability to chose our own path.

2.  And I guess this is something I wish I could say to every kid I know (Lord knows I’ve said it to my two children like a broken record for years):  BE CAREFUL OF THE PEOPLE WITH WHICH YOU SURROUND YOURSELF!!  In other words, the FRIENDS YOU CHOOSE!!  Because they will shape YOU as much or more than you shape them!!  And if you surround yourself with people who are living ungodly lives and doing destructive things, you will too.

So, the best thing you can do for your future is surround yourself with GOOD PEOPLE who have the same kinds of goals in life that you do!!  Because, if you don’t do this, you’ll pay more of a price than you ever intended to pay.  If you believe in Jesus Christ, the best thing you can do is surround yourself with friends that believe in Him and honor Him with their lives, too!

Test me and see if this is not true!!

Today’s Sermon

25 Dec


23 Dec

I’ve been hesitant to write this.  But it is really churning around in my heart and mind, so I guess I cannot escape it any more.  I see something really dangerous on the horizon for the Body of Christ, and I know I will take heat for writing this.  But I cannot run from it anymore.

Reshaping.  Remolding.  Allowing our hearts and minds to evolve (or devolve) into a place that is comfortable for us, yet dangerous for the Kingdom of God.  And  I see it running rampant right now in America.

When we reshape God into something that fits our lives comfortably, we are headed down a DEVASTATING ROAD.  Yet it happens every day and Christians, people who are supposed to know better, are flocking to it.  Because it is easier to reshape and fall into the massive vision of a God who is 50% less filling than it is to walk the narrow path.  Jesus warned us that the wide path would be the easier path to walk, and many would head down that path.  And it would lead to destruction.  He also told us that the path to Him would be narrow and difficult, but it would lead to eternal life.  And now I see churches and even people I love and respect headed down that wide, easy path.  And when I dare to say anything I am labeled as “crazy,” or “jealous,” or a variety of things I haven’t even heard.

I agree that feels very NATURAL for us to seek comfort in our relationship with God, so it doesn’t surprise me that so many are doing this.  And, even though I have a Master of Divinity and an earned doctorate, I don’t consider myself a renowned  theologian … but even I can see from God’s word that a relationship with Him WILL CHALLENGE US, and it WILL CONFRONT US about our sin AND about our OBEDIENCE, and it WILL BE UNCOMFORTABLE at times.  The very nature of the Gospel is confrontational and compels me to strive towards living a Romans 12 life.  And that is neither easy nor comfortable.

I am hoping and praying today that we will all wake up.  Will you join me??

The Gospel according to … YOU??

19 Dec

Last night in worship, we looked at the Prologue to the Gospel of John and the first few verses of I John.  Both passages are very similar, and in them John makes a couple of strong points:  He was only sharing what he KNEW TO BE TRUE.  From FIRSTHAND EXPERIENCE.  And, he shared that Jesus Christ IS THE SON OF GOD.  IS ETERNAL.  IS THE AGENT OF CREATION.  (The list goes on and on).

But, what we explored last night was the idea that John knew the obligation he had to share what he knew.  Have we shared what we know to be true about Christ with the world??  Even with our families?  What if all the books were destroyed and all that was left to lead our families to His throne was what we wrote because we know it to be true?  In other words, if you wrote all that you KNOW to be true about God down in a book, how would it  read?

It’s a compelling thought.  What do I KNOW to be true about Christ?  Do I share it with those I love?  This Christmas season, you can give those you love the greatest gift of all … tell them what you KNOW to be true about God!!!

Today’s sermon

18 Dec

God works it all out His way!

12 Dec








“I love it when a plan comes together!!”  One of my favorite TV shows from when I was a kid was The A-Team.  And, of course, the pinnacle of every show was when Col. Hannibal Smith lit his cigar and quoted the aforementioned line.  You KNOW they had the objected licked when Hannibal said this.  And, it was amazing how it always worked out.  (Good Hollywood writers)

Last night in Bible Study we were talking about how God worked everything in the Christmas story out.  In an amazing way!!  Read the first couple of chapters of Matthew and see how it all worked out … faith, fact, common sense … God worked it all out in HIS way!!

It reminded me of a time in my life when God worked some things out like that.  Miraculously.  Not long after I accepted Christ (at the age of 23) God started calling me to ministry.  And I ran … I ran so far away.  I told myself it was natural to desire such a thing since I was so on fire and in love with God!!!  (Looking back now, that was the LAMEST excuse I used). Krissy was born in November of 1990, and then I KNEW God wouldn’t want me to leave a good job (in which Diana didn’t have to work but could stay home with our baby) and go back to school.  It just seemed to be too much.  I ran … I ran so far away.

When God finally started really pinning me into a corner, I did something I should’ve been doing all along.  I had kept all of this to myself for a while.  Frankly, I dreaded telling my wife and new mother to my child that God was calling me to ministry and I would probably have to leave my job …  When I finally told her, I discovered how God really does work in the details.  YEARS ahead of me.  When I expected the woman I love to look at me and tell me I was crazy, she did quite the opposite.  She told me something that absolutely blew my mind.

At this point in our lives, Diana and I had been either dating, engaged, or married for almost 7 years.  We knew each other pretty well.  And I’d known her since she was 17.  She told me something she’d never told me:  That 9 years earlier, when she was 15, she’d been at a youth retreat and God clearly told her something.  Now, if you know Diana like I do, this was going to be significant.  She is not the type to throw around the “God told me” stuff.  At that retreat, God told her she would marry a pastor.  She also shared that when she knew I was the one, and she KNEW I wasn’t going to be that pastor, she just figured maybe she’d misunderstood God.

I write today to say this:  God makes Hannibal Smith look like an amateur.  (Maybe it will take an A-Team fan to get that).

Jeremiah 29:11  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.”

Blankets for Hope

6 Dec

Ashley Griffin is an 8th grade IB student at Williams Middle School in Florence. She is very excited about her service project that is called, “Blankets for Hope.” The goal is to help the needy people of Florence. With the increased costs of heating fuel and the rise in unemployment numbers, many people are struggling to keep their homes warm. Heating costs take up a large percentage of their weekly pay. Some people are even homeless. As the weather gets colder, the need for blankets will rise.

Ashley wants to collect used or new blankets (used and clean is great) of any kind (baby, throw, bed, etc.) to help give hope and warmth to needy people in the Florence community this holiday season.

Ashley has made seven collection boxes for the community and they have been distributed to:
Williams Middle School
All Saints Episcopal Day School (only for internal collection)
Starbucks at 5 Points
Advanced Dental Center at 2214 W. Palmetto St.
Florence YMCA
Ebenezer Baptist Church
Dr.’s Welch and Bonds Orthodontist Office off 2nd Loop Rd.

Ashley hopes that she will get a large number of blanket donations, and she plans to donate them all back into the local Florence community to organizations such as the House of Hope, Lighthouse Ministries, and others.

The boxes are now out and Ashley is going to collect the boxes next Wednesday, December 14th, so that she can donate the blankets before Christmas. So, please go through your drawers and closets to donate a blanket and help those in need this holiday season!

A warm blanket brings hope!

This is offensive to me …

5 Dec
I lost another facebook friend today.  Here is why:
(Hername here)   go cocks!!!








Gotta love our upstate folk…… (THIS was the caption she wrote)

I was born and raised in Easley, SC.  And yes, even that close to Clemson, there are USC fans.  And there is rivalry.  And I know there are Clemson fans that are as classless as this as well.  But I am really tired of my home being insulted.  And I am told “It’s just rivalry!!”  I’ve grown up in this state and I know what rivalry is …  This is not the first photo on facebook to move past going after Clemson athletics and attack the Upstate in general.  And it won’t be the last. My family remains in Pickens County.  In fact, my father, whom I am slowly losing to a horrible disease, is one of my favorite residents of that county.  My mom, whom I love, lives there too!  And my first-born child is a student at … you guessed it … Clemson (after growing up a Gamecock fan).
And, to my friends that might tell me I’m taking this too seriously … I’ve dealt with adults posting sexually explicit stuff about the Clemson/USC game, and a bunch of insults.  And I guess I’m just tired of it this year.  Some of you guys really need to think about things before you post them …
1 John 4:20 If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.

Finishing an earlier post

2 Dec

Whenever I write this blog, it is coming straight out of my mind onto the screen.  There is no calculation.  No strategy.  It really is a log of my thoughts.  (Yes, that can be dangerous)  And sometimes I leave things undone.

Several weeks ago I posted this blog entry:

In this entry, I quoted this idea:

“Much of how friendly ANY church is lies in WHAT YOU TAKE INTO THE DOOR.  In other words, how friendly are you???  How open are you to meeting new people?  Telling them YOUR name???  At the very least, we all have a responsibility to bring our best to worship.”  This quote was in the context of some folks that I care deeply about who had a really rough experience at EBC.  I would never want anyone to mistake what I wrote here, so let me elaborate on it!

EVERYTIME WE (Ebenezer) ENTER THE DOOR OF OUR CHURCH WE MUST BRING OUR BEST OR WE FAIL GOD.  PERIOD.  Most times when folks wash out of a congregation, there are multiple failures of THE ENTIRE CHURCH BRINGING THEIR BEST.


We ALL must bring our best.