Archive | August, 2012

20 Years Ago

28 Aug

The forecast track of TS Isaac has many folks thinking about another hurricane, not so long ago … Katrina came onshore near Pass Christian, MS, and wreaked HAVOC on that region of the Gulf Coast.  In the aftermath, Ebenezer (along with many others) sent multiple teams down to do whatever we could to help.  We still remember a little storm called Hugo and all of the help we received!  In fact, Marty Coates organized a team that went in only a couple of days after.  We saw firsthand the destruction.

Fortunately, Isaac is no Katrina.  No Hugo.  But it does remind me of another hurricane named Andrew.  It was 20 years ago and my wife, my almost 2-year-old daughter and I were recovering from the culture shock that is natural when you move from Upstate South Carolina to New Orleans.  The mayor of NO, Marc Morial, issued an evacuation order as Andrew drew close.  And all of my friends laughed!! “It ain’t ever gonna hit us!  You’re a fool if you evacuate!!”

Not too many years before, I had served on a Hugo cleanup team.  I saw what a powerful hurricane can do, and what Andrew had already done to Homestead, FL.  So I packed up my Bronco II and my family, and we headed east.  NEVER FOUND A VACANCY IN A HOTEL.  And by the time we got to Atlanta, we were only 2 hours from home!!  So we drove on into Easley and had an unplanned trip home for a few days.  Andrew jogged west before he came on shore and did very little damage.  And all was well!

Isaac is on a very similar path to Andrew.  And as I sit here, 600 miles away from a city I called home and left a little of my heart in when we left in ’95, I pray for my brothers, sisters, and my seminary.  I pray that Isaac will have even less of a bite than Andrew.  I pray that this city, that has had so much disaster in the last decade, will be safe.  Just like 20 years ago.

Todays Sermon

26 Aug

A Riddle and a Popular Question

22 Aug

First, the Riddle:  Why did God send Jonah to Nineveh??  Have you ever thought about it?  WHY Nineveh?  Before you go diving into the Book of Jonah, here are the first two verses of that book:

“The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai:  “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”

Ok, THERE is the answer: Because God noticed their wickedness.  But, don’t you think there were THOUSANDS of other cities that were wicked in that day??  So WHY did God send Jonah to Nineveh??

I’ll get to the answer in just a minute.  Now, the Popular Question (at least lately)…  Several people have asked me, “WHY HONDURAS?  There must be millions of orphanages on this earth that are as bad or worse than that one.  WHY THAT ONE??  Why the one in Limon??”

Have you figured out the answers yet??  God called Jonah to Nineveh BECAUSE HE DID.  We have NO IDEA why God chose Nineveh for Jonah to visit … We do know that in the end, because Jonah finally obeyed, Nineveh was SAVED!!  They turned to God!!

Why this orphanage in Limon, Honduras??  I DON’T KNOW.  I DON’T KNOW WHY GOD PUT IT IN OUR LAPS THE WAY HE DID.  But He is DEFINITELY at work in this.  And that excites ME!!  All I want to do is JOIN HIM and SEE WHAT HE DOES!!!  AND HOPE TO BE A PART OF IT!!

WHY HONDURAS?  BECAUSE GOD CHOSE THIS ONE FOR US.  And if He hasn’t chosen this one for you, that’s okay … But you need to get busy asking Him which one He choses for YOU!!

Seems like only yesterday

20 Aug



Seems like only yesterday when he went on his first fishing trip.  It was at the pond at Buddy Rainwater’s house.  He caught a brim!!  Not long after that, he started 5K.  Seems like only yesterday.  Today, he starts the first day of his senior year in high school.  His big sister is already a second-semester senior at Clemson, due to her hard work during the summers.  She starts Wednesday.  And I find myself wondering where all the time has gone!! Here’s wishing all of our kids a great year at school, and hoping all parents will realize their kids grow up at the speed of light.  Make the most of every moment!!!

Sister Leonarda’s Home of Hope

13 Aug

Yes, I know it is close to the name of our local ministry, The House of Hope.  But this is a different place.  A very different place.  This is video footage, shot by Dr. John Bingham, of the orphanage as we found it on July 23, 2012.  The unscripted interviews were done on July 24.  John did a GREAT JOB capturing details.  This video tells the story …


13 Aug

That’s one word that fits the North American church to a tee!!  We are distracted.  Not focused on one thing, but on 50!  One of the unique markers of this generation is that we have less loyalty and more “waiting for the best offer to come along!!”  Makes me really feel bad for Justin and Andi, who have to make camp reservations and pay unrefundable deposits.  Sometimes our people will sign up and even give money to put their name on the list.  And when something better comes along, they cancel and many times expect to get their money back.  Even knowing it’s unrefundable!!  Makes life really hard for our children and youth ministries.  (Honestly, I also know there are legitimate reasons why people have to cancel.  And there are times when it is just done because something better came along!)

But, getting on to the real reason for this blog … This mentality creeps into every aspect of life.  Even into our faithfulness to God.  We will be faithful, we will follow Him, we will allow Him to call all of the shots … unless something better comes along.  As long as it’s convenient and doesn’t have what we see as a negative impact on our lives, we will let Hm be God.  But if things start getting uncomfortable or start heading into a direction with which we don’t agree or like, we have this tendency to take control.

Imagine where the Children of Israel would’ve been had they applied this way of life to their trek out of Egypt.  They would still be out there wandering!!

My prayer for Ebenezer today is that we will recognize God for Who He is and give Him the rightful place in our lives!!  HE ALONE IS WORTHY!!

Today’s Sermon – Pride goes before the fall

12 Aug

White Noise

9 Aug

That is what I’ve been dealing with today … on a couple of levels.  White noise.

While in Honduras, Dr. John Bingham used his massive video skills to film a video telling the story of Sister Leonarda’s Home of Hope, the orphanage all of the Honduras Mission team talks about.  The goal of this video is to show and tell what it is really like.  He got some great shots.  Paul and I now have the task of editing and producing a final product.  I hope you all will see it soon!!

By virtue of the equipment used, background noise is a fact of life.  One of the things I’ve been trying to do this morning is filter out background noise and bring the voices of those videos out in better quality.  It is a tedious process.

While talking to Ed Self about some other things around the office today, it hit both of us:  There IS a spiritual white noise that we experience.  And it is trying to drown out the voice and call of God!!  It comes in a variety of sounds:

  • Complaints
  • Busywork
  • Pride
  • Gossip
  • Worry
  • This list could go on, but you get the point …

I realized today that the reason we saw and heard God at work so strongly 1,400 miles from here was the lack of white noise!!  I am hoping if we all realize this, we can focus on what is really important and ALL make an effort to turn down the white noise in our lives.

Because, the truth of all of this is:  God is working just as hard and He is doing things in Florence, SC, that are just as incredible and miraculous as I saw Him do in Honduras.  My problem is filtering out the white noise so I can see Him and hear Him clearly!!

I took your place

8 Aug

I received the following email today. Don’t know the source of the story, but the email was from my friend Teresa Suddreth!!



This should wake us up.

One day, a man went to visit a church. He got there early, parked his car and got out. Another car pulled up near the driver got out and said, “I always park there! You took my place!”

The visitor went inside for Sunday School, found an empty seat and sat down. A young lady from the church approached him and stated, “That’s my seat! You took my place!” The visitor was somewhat distressed by this rude welcome, but said nothing.

After Sunday School, the visitor went into the sanctuary and sat down. Another member walked up to him and said, “That’s where I always sit! You took my place!” The visitor was even more troubled by this treatment, but still said nothing.

Later as the congregation was praying for Christ to dwell among them, the visitor stood up, and his appearance began to change. Horrible scars became visible on his hands and on his sandaled feet. Someone from the congregation noticed him and called out, “What happened to you?”
The visitor replied, as his hat became a crown of thorns, and a tear fell from his eye,

“I took your place!”

Life really is precious

7 Aug

I walked into a house yesterday.  A house into which I have walked many times in my 17 + years at Ebenezer.  But this time, it was different.  It might be the last time I walk into that house …  This time it was to plan a funeral.

Funerals are never easy, whether attending or conducting.  Funerals are a fact of life, and in the South we do them better than anywhere else.  They become more difficult when they are for a friend.  Someone who invested in me and my family.  And, long story short, Mrs. Genevieve Pettigrew did just that.  And she will be missed!!

We are never really prepared for death.  When someone we love lives a full life, it does make it a little easier.  But once again, we are reminded that life is precious and every day is a gift from God.  What are you going to do with your gift today??