Archive | May, 2013

Inspired by the Crash

30 May

I’ve got to confess something to you … As pastor of a church, you deal with a bunch of different things.  Lately we’ve had too much death at Ebenezer.  But, you never know what you will face.  You never know how people will respond to change.

And I am SOOOO proud of our Youth Ministry right now.  Specifically of our YOUTH.  Our new Associate Pastor/Minister of Students, Nathan Neighbors, began his ministry at Ebenezer on Sunday.  And our youth have responded with a great sense of love and anticipation for what God is going to do!!

It’s tough to go through a year like they have faced.  Justin, who was and is much loved, resigned after 7 and a half years to follow God’s call to another place.  As much as our kids love him, they really wondered if they could love someone else that much.  This week, they proved to me that their hearts are in the right place.  They have welcomed Nathan with open arms!!  And, as a pastor, that makes me so proud!!!

Now, it’s time to pray.  Pray for Nathan as he begins this new tenure.  Pray for our youth, as things are already ramping up for them to find their place building the kingdom of God.

And we could ALL learn a lesson about how resilient and open to God these kids are …

Today’s sermon: Remembering Who We Are

26 May

Remembering Who We Are from Ebenezer BC on Vimeo.

Don’t back away

22 May

We are called.  Called to be the hands and feet of the Kingdom of God.  Called to be light and salt in a world in DESPERATE need of the truth.  Called to be the voice of the Good News.

How are we doing on that??  The Holy Spirit will empower us and direct us.  Through Him, God will show us exactly WHAT WE NEED TO DO, WHERE WE NEED TO GO, and WHAT WE NEED TO SAY.  So, what could we possibly have to fear??

The devil WANTS YOU to be afraid … be VERY afraid.  He wants you to shrink back and hide.  He does NOT want you to use your hands, feet, mind, voice, or anything else to build the Kingdom of God.

I don’t know what God is calling YOU to do today, but DON’T BACK AWAY!!  If God called you to it, you can bet He has your back ALL THE WAY THROUGH IT.

They were just babies

20 May

Yesterday.  All my troubles seemed so far away.  I had my entire life ahead of me.  My children would jump up and down and get really happy when I came home from work.  They would run to me and hop up in my arms.  And life was good.

Then I blinked my eyes, and one walked across a stage to receive her Bachelor of Science degree.  And the other … He is ready to walk across a stage for his high school diploma.  And, it seems like only yesterday when he would hop up in my lap just to spend time with me.  He could barely walk, but he sure could hop up in my lap.  Where has the time gone???

Yesterday (the LITERAL day) was awesome.  And one of the hardest days of my life.  As I prepared for the Baccalaureate Service at EBC, I couldn’t help but realize who those graduates were.  Those graduates hold a piece of my heart, and they have since the beginning of my ministry at Ebenezer.

When we moved here almost 18 years ago, Drew was one month old.  And most of those kids that walked down the aisle in their caps and gowns were babies.  Just babies.  And I have watched most of those children grow up at EBC.   Keith Pettigrew and I have coached them in basketball, some of them in baseball.  Diana and I have cheered them on in many other sports.  These kids are like my own children.  And I love them that way, too!!

If ever there was a class that I personally KNOW Ebenezer has impacted in a positive way, this is it.  And here is something I could’ve NEVER said yesterday:  As a parent, I am SOOOO thankful for everything Ebenezer has done to prepare my son for the next step in his life.  From the Nursery, Sunday School, Children’s Church, RAs, and every aspect of Youth Ministry, there have been many hands that have shaped my son into the man he has become.  And I am thankful for every one of them!!  (And I know every parent in that room yesterday feels the same way)

I cannot see these kids as babies anymore.  They are young men and women.  And many of them are ALREADY making a tremendous impact on this world for the Kingdom of God.  And, life is GOOD!!!

Today’s sermon: Big Choices

19 May

Big Choices from Ebenezer BC on Vimeo.

My Friend, Mary

17 May

Many of you Ebenezerites know her voice… She has answered the phones at Ebenezer for over 16 years now.  Mary Todd is more than a part of our church staff … She is my family.  And I will miss her working in our office.

Mary came to Ebenezer in January of 1997.  I had not quite been here two years as Minister of Youth.  We quickly learned that Mary was actually Marion County Royalty:  EVERYONE over there knew her father, Albert Courie, who had an appliance store on Main Street.  He brought the first television to Marion.  He was more than that:  He served in the US Army in WW2 and afterward was an integral part of the SC National Guard.  Everyone I know from there now knows her sister and brother-in-law, Ken and Margaret Baker.  But Mary doesn’t need the family ties to define her .. She is quite capable of doing that herself.

When Mary came to work with us, we quickly learned that she was really good at her job:  Good at reading people.  Good at handling issues and helping people when she could.  Good at running interference when we needed it.  She was a natural in her role.  We also learned what Kevin (her son) meant when he called her “Scary Mary.”  (I am thankful I was never on the business end of the scary part)

Mary will be missed in our office.  A few months ago, doctors starting running tests on her and discovered a small mass.  Two surgeries later, they feel they got it all, but have prepared her for the fight of her life:  She will undergo chemotherapy and radiation.  And she has to put all of her energy into that fight.  So, she regrettably resigned her post.  We did not want to see her go… Especially with this reason … But, she needs her strength for her fight.

Will she have enough strength for this battle???  YES!!  Because when she feels like she is running low, I’ll give her some of mine … Ed will give her some of his … Pam will give her some of hers … Andi will give her some of hers … Dusty will give her some of hers … Kitty will give her some of hers … Lisa will give her some of hers … Edwin will give her some of his … Billy will give her some from California … Omerea, Michelle, and the Weekday crew will send some up the hall to her … and Tory will bat cleanup, and give her plenty!!!  And that list of those who are putting their strength with Mary and Roy in this fight GOES ON AND ON.

Because we are family.  And that is what family does.  As I write this, Mary is taking her FIRST chemo treatment.  Doctors have prepared her that this will be a long road and a serious undertaking.  And I am helping her out right now.

How, you might ask???  I am praying that GOD will give her some of His strength.  Because, the truth is, that is ALL WE CAN DO and THAT IS EXACTLY ENOUGH.  His strength is perfect and plenty!!!

Pray for my big sister, Mary Todd!!!  Thanks!

Seeing the future

13 May

What is the vision and direction for Ebenezer??  There are many pieces of this puzzle in place.  And for it to be complete, EVERY MEMBER will need to find his/her place to plug in.

When you think about strong ministries at EBC, you cannot help but talk about our children’s ministry.  Our youth ministry.  Our Weekday Early Education Ministry.  Our music ministry.  Our Family Life Center.  The list can go on and on…  Considering all of these things AND the fact that of the 25,000 people within a three-mile-radius of our front door, 17,000 claimed on the latest Census to NOT have an ongoing relationship with a church, one cannot help but understand that God put us here to REACH THE LOST.  And that He has given us many tools to use in this mission.

And here we are…  We started the HOW Campaign to save money for a new sanctuary, new classroom space, and a new Youth Assembly Building.  Then the economy took a downward spiral.  HOWEVER, God allowed us to build the YAB WITHOUT DEBT!!  The next steps have yet to be taken, and for good reason…

We are NOT USING THE SPACE WE HAVE NOW to the best of our abilities.  I believe with all of my heart that until we are good stewards of that which God has entrusted to us, we WILL NOT BE GIVEN MORE.  We will not be allowed to build.  This is where we really need to pray and seek His face.

What to do??  We could consider changing our Sunday morning schedule and doing two Sunday Schools and two Worships.  We could add another service on Sunday evening that mirrors the Sunday morning worship service, and have Sunday School during that time as well.  We could add a service on Saturday night.

What SHOULD we do??  HERE IS THE ANSWER.  HERE IS THE VISION FOR EBENEZER:  We SHOULD … WE MUST … SEEK GOD AND HIS WILL FOR EACH ONE OF US.  AND WE MUST BE THE PIECE OF THE PUZZLE THAT EACH OF US IS, EMBRACE IT, AND MOVE FORWARD AS THE HOLY SPIRIT LEADS US.  EACH ONE OF US.

Period.