Archive | September, 2012

Today’s Sermon: The Joy of the Lord is my strength

30 Sep

The Call

27 Sep

The call of God is an awesome call, and one to be obeyed.  If we’ve really accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior and follow the leadings of the Holy Spirit, we never really know when and/or where the call will come.  And we do not know where the call will take us.  We just know we will never be happy and at peace with God until we obey!!  If you don’t believe that, take a couple of minutes and read the Old Testament book of Jonah!!

This morning, we Ebenezerites strike into somewhat unfamiliar territory.  We mourn because Justin and Amanda and their family, whom we DEARLY LOVE, feel called to another church, where Justin will serve in a similar capacity as a Minister to Students.  Where many of our Baptist brothers and sisters have walked this territory, we have never seen a Student Minister called away to another church.  The first full-time youth minister was a guy named Ed Self.  I think he still works here.  The next one was me.  It is rumored that I still work at Ebenezer, too!  Sidney Rainwater helped out for a while and left to become a secret agent for the SC DNR.  Wes Andrews left us to pour himself full-time into his coffee shop, so he was still here and still around.  And then we called Justin.  Seven and a half years ago.

When Justin told me about this, I tried everything I could to talk him out of it.  But he convinced me this is a God-thing, and I know when God calls I CANNOT get in His way.  But I still mourned.  And we as a church will do mourn.  But that is okay!!  Our mourning will soon turn to blessings for Justin and Amanda and their kids, and then into praying for the next person God has to lead this awesome ministry!!

As for now, pray for our church.  Pray specifically for our youth and youth leaders.  Pray for Justin and his new ministry.  And pray for that one God has already chosen for us!!  And don’t worry … God is in control.  He has got this!!  Let Him do His job!

Why me, Lord???

24 Sep

Have you ever asked that question??  Have you ever been in a difficult spot in life and wanted God to answer that??  When Ed and I used to drop by Philip Kennedy’s office on Santiago, that would always be the first thing out of his mouth.  “Why me, Lord??”  Miss that dude.

ANYWAY, last night in worship we looked as the story of Queen Esther and saw that she found herself in such a place.  On one hand, her people were about to be eradicated from the kingdom.  She was in a unique place where she held the key to their rescue.  But to save them would require risking her life. I wonder if she went into her room, looked up to heaven, and asked that question???

What would you do?  From the comfort of our lives, we would like to say “I’d risk my life!!”  But if you were staring down the barrel of potential death, what would you really do??  The real shame of this is, there are people all around us that face potential death everyday.  They live in the death of separation from God.  And you hold a key that can set them free!!  And, in most cases, you won’t even come CLOSE to risking your life to tell them.

Will you do it??  In the words of good ol’ Uncle Morty, “Who knows that God didn’t put you exactly where you are for such a time as this?”

It all comes together

23 Sep

Where our mission meets the urgency

18 Sep

Once again, our Florence community is reminded of the brevity of life in an accident that happened on Sunday.  It claimed the lives of two 19 year old men.  Now, two families and many, many friends are devastated and left to wonder “why?”  Sadly, they might never find an answer to that question on this side of eternity.  And here is where our mission meets the urgency with which we should be doing it.

IF we really believe that Christ called us to GO INTO THE FOUR CORNERS OF THE WORLD and make disciples, then we must know that the time to do it is NOW.  What if someone God put into your life, in your path, was victim of such a tragedy tomorrow?

Our mission includes the 17,000 that live within a three mile radius of EBC that do not know Christ.  Our mission includes those halfway around the world that God calls us to go to.  AND our mission includes everyone in between …  Jesus Christ called us to go to the world.  Some will be called to go far.  Some will be called to go near.  ALL WILL BE CALLED.

And, now is the time to answer that call.  Because tomorrow promises to be different and we never know how that difference will impact our world …

Why do you do it?

11 Sep

This blog entry could have so many titles:  “Beware of strangers bearing gifts!”  or “DO NOT do your acts of righteousness before men” would be good ones, too.  The truth is, this is another time when the truth of God’s word has shown itself in real life.  Anyone who says the Bible is outdated and unreal refuses to see its truths unfold before them, as it does every day!!!

In Matthew 6, Jesus shared  these words with His disciples:

“Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (NIV)

When we do good deeds, especially those that benefit our community, we who follow Christ should always do them to glorify our Father.  NEVER to glorify ourselves!  If we do these things to glorify ourselves, we are reaping our reward right now. If I am a follower of Christ, and yet decide to sing my own praises, am I not stealing some of His glory for myself??  ABSOLUTELY!

So, do all of the good deeds He leads you to do!!  And check your motives as you do them!  And give Him all of the glory!!!  The truth of the matter is, the BEST good deeds I’ve ever been a part of have been things done in secret.  Things that were set up perfectly by God and executed because He said to do it!!  Things done with no public accolade sought and no press coverage!!  Things that were AWESOME because, in the end, the ONLY explanation was GOD!!


Today’s Sermon

9 Sep

A Radical Difference

4 Sep

This week, God has put a difficult message on my heart.  I still don’t quite know how to build this out into a sermon.  But, here goes .. This is what is on my heart:

This is something Ed and I were talking about last week.  One of the greatest challenges that faces The Church (not just Ebenezer) in the 21st Century is the realization that the world around us has changed so drastically in the last 10-20 years.  It’s going to take change in the church to reach them, and those churches that REFUSE to change will end up as abandoned buildings.  By the way, THAT is already happening around the US.

The big mistake that many will make when they hear this message is they will assume that I am talking about STYLE.  About music, about how we dress, about what our worship area looks like.  And that will offend them.

And now, the massive curve ball:  THOSE THINGS are NOT what this is about.  It is about a CHANGE OF OUR HEARTS.

Pray for me.  Pray for churches across the globe as we struggle with this.  And, Ebenezerites, I hope to see YOU on Sunday!!

Thanks for asking! But …

3 Sep

I am in awe of the love and concern shown to me and my family by my Ebenezer family.  If you are a part of EBC, I want you to know how much I appreciate you and that you folks mean the world to me.  If you are not … well, you need to be!!  With all of that written, many people ask me about how my dad is doing.  Sometimes I say “about the same” and sometimes I’ll even admit to “not too well.”  But I think there is a deeper answer.  One that I do not want to give, but I believe it to be true.

Dad’s disease is progressing.  That is NOT a positive thing.  Dad has NPH (normal pressure hydrocephalus), which basically is too much spinal fluid in his brain cavity.  It acts like Alzheimer’s, or Parkinson’s, or that catch-all diagnosis of dementia.  The bottom line is physically, Dad is not doing too bad.  But mentally, he is not well at all.

With Dad, the main problems are memory loss that grows more severe every day and loss of muscle control in his feet and legs.  The physical symptoms really don’t seem to be getting worse.  His memory, however, is another story.

Years ago, all of this started with small holes in his memory and thought processes.  Most of the time, you would never know he had NPH.  Slowly, however, the small holes have grown bigger.  Now there are small moments of clarity and more memory loss.  And it continues to grow.  And my Mom, who has ALREADY earned sainthood in my eyes, feels her heart break a little more everyday for her high school sweetheart to whom she has been married for almost 59 years.

Yes, there are treatments for NPH.  A cranial shunt is no longer an option, although Dad had one that helped for over 5 years.  He does have a lumbar shunt, but it only does so much.  So we place all of this in the precious and loving hands of God.  And, you’d better believe this is a painful thing for my Mom, for me, and for my family.

So many of you have asked “What can we do for you??”  Right now, pray for us.  Especially for my Mom, Janet Wike.  And know that your prayers are greatly appreciated!!

Today’s sermon: Submit Yourselves to God

2 Sep