Archive | August, 2013

Ours or His???

29 Aug

Many years ago (while I was a Youth Sunday School teacher and a computer programmer by vocation), I was up for anything in the way of serving God.  If my good friend, Seth Buckley, said “Let’s charge Hell and put the fire out with water pistols” I was THERE.  It was in that naivety that I discovered something sad … Something that I believe grieves the very heart of God.  Something that was alive and well in the New Testament church, as it still is.  The ever-present struggle of “Ours vs His.”

The church we were in was in a part of our city that was beginning to urbanize … Many of our members were moving away and out to the suburbs, and as that happened the racial and socio-economic face that of community surrounding the church was changing.  We honestly were not trying to stir up trouble or make a political statement.  We were just approached by the director of a community center which was about 5 blocks from our church.  She asked if we could help.  We had a gym that was unused on Wednesday afternoons, and she had a ton of kids that would be more than glad to use it!!

So, we started … We would play different games with those kids:  Basketball, volleyball, dodgeball, kickball… Pretty much any game that had the word “ball” in its name and maybe a few that didn’t.  After about an hour of playing, we sat down with those kids and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with them,  Every week.  It was great while it lasted.  And the devil didn’t like it at all.

The devil didn’t like it so much that he stirred up trouble … People started complaining.  “Why are we letting THOSE kids use our gym??”  “We PAY for that gym … why are THEY using it?”  Without saying it, we knew the skin color of those precious children probably generated the complaints.

What a sad statement about the state of the church…  Because, when it boiled down to it, that event defined the fact that the gym at that church belonged more to the people than to GOD.  We say our buildings belong to Him, but that day, the bottom line was the facilities belonged to the church.  And they were claiming ownership.  And, eventually, they shut us down.

I think about those kids a lot.  I think about running into those kids years later and them talking about Christ and about how they heard about Him in that gym.  And I think it grieves the heart of God when His people try to take ownership of His house and allow their own fears and prejudices to strike a blow for Satan, and break down the kingdom of God.  And I pray Ebenezer NEVER gets there!!!

After all … is it OURS or HIS?

Forever changed

26 Aug

Two Sunday evenings ago, I got one of “those” phone calls.  A young man whom I knew was shot and killed.  A young man in his prime, with a young wife and five-month-old son.  And lives will be forever changed.

I know his mother and father well.  Many who loved them rushed to their sides, and have been there ever since.  The childhood friends of this young man have stepped in and continue to faithfully do so.  All are in shock.  None of us believed the stories we were hearing from the city he lived in … Shot by his wife after an alleged attack.  None of it made sense.  None of it added up.  And lives ARE forever changed.

This past Friday, the news reached Florence that his “widow” was arrested for Murder.  That does answer questions that many of us suspected were true … But, lives are still forever changed.  Don’t get me wrong:  We are all thankful for justice and praying for it.  But at this point, there is no good end to this story.  A family will forever be without a son and a brother.  A little boy will grow up, never really knowing a father who was already awesome and would’ve been wonderful for that little man.  From that day forward, many lives are and will be forever changed.

It reminds us all that there are times in life when we MUST STEP UP.  I know all of those friends will step up for that little boy when they get the chance.  Instead of one father, he will have a bunch!  And I am praying they will show him and tell him what kind of man his dad was.  I know the friends of his mother and father will continue to step up and hold them up.  Help them walk through life.  There might even be a day, heaven forbid, that they will be called to help another family that faces such a hard event.

No matter what happens from here, our lives are forever changed.  And this, again, is proof that life is far from perfect.  That life is very hard.   And the only way we can make it through is with the love and grace of God the Father, salvation in Jesus Christ, and the fellowship of other believers.  And if you don’t believe me, come and see me someday.  I will SHOW you all of that in action right now in the house of my friends whose lives are forever changed…

Today’s Sermon

25 Aug

The One Who Sent Me from Ebenezer BC on Vimeo.

Back in the Grind

21 Aug

School has begun!!  And for the first time in 16 years, I do not have a student in Florence School District 1 schools!! YIPPEEEE!!!  Now I won’t get 40 calls a week from their PhoneTree.  But, I digress …

Another summer has come and gone.  The older I get, the quicker they fly by.  We in Florence begin another school year and things start cranking back up all over town.  And, especially at Ebenezer.  But I wonder:  Will this be just another year??  Do we hop back into the same groove and do another year on autopilot??  What does He want US to change?  To improve?  To DO this school year?

I think hopping back into the same groove every year has another name, and that name is RUT.  And, seriously, do we want to find ourselves in the same ruts of life that can entrap us, that stunt our growth, and force us in the same directions and towards the same habits??  Do you REALLY think that’s what God wants for you?

God really wants what is best for you.  That means He wants you to be in a growing and vibrant relationship with HIm.  He wants you to FOLLOW HIM, and if we are truly following Him, He is constantly using us to plow new ground.  God seldom puts us in a rut… When we find ourselves in one, it is usually because of our own hands.

We all might be back in the grind of yet ANOTHER school year, but don’t let it force you into a rut.  Pursue a FRESH relationship with God TODAY.  And EVERYDAY.  And if you are in Florence and you need help with that, come see me at Ebenezer!!

God knows EXACTLY what we need

19 Aug

Here is a story about God and His wisdom, foresight, and provision:

About three or four months ago, Ed and I were talking and decided to invite Dawn Smith Jordan to lead us in worship this Sunday.  We thought it would be a nice finale to our summer of worship in the FLC, and something our teachers would enjoy as we recognized them at the beginning of the school year.  Little did we know …

If you are familiar with Dawn and her testimony, you know the story about her younger sister, Shari.  Those of us who lived in South Carolina will never forget the story of a young girl, about to start her senior year of high school, kidnapped at the mailbox in front of her family home and later murdered.  If you haven’t heard this testimony, my advice is to invite her to your church!!  Her information is at www.dawnsmithjordan.com

Anyway, little did we know that a family in our church would have young adult son who would be killed this week. That we would begin to walk a long, difficult path with no immediately clear answers and just a family … One of OUR FAMILY … carrying a burden that all parents hope they never have to carry.  Little did we know three months ago that God was making a divine appointment for this past Sunday. Dawn didn’t even know about any of this.  She just stood up, did what God led her to do, and all of the sudden HE WAS AT WORK!!

One of the things we love about Dawn is that she doesn’t just come do a concert, she ministers!!  Yesterday, LITERALLY … She met with the family afterward to pray for them and encourage them.  But I am more thankful that she is obedient, even in sharing the pain of such a lifechanging event.

God knows EXACTLY what we need.  This is not a cliche … This is REALITY for those who follow Him!!

Unfortunately …

12 Aug

In the last three days, two younger men I knew have lost their lives.  One to an accident and one to something that was not.  In the process of all of this, families and friends are in shock.  “Why?” doesn’t even seem to be an adequate question.  What now??

Death is indiscriminate.  We seldom ever know why and it is hard for us to be comfortable with this.  Sometimes there are no answers, and we like answers.  We want to know.  Some of the hardest times we will face in life will be times like these, where there might be no answers.

In both cases, all we can do is rest in the knowledge that these men had confessed Christ as their Savior.  Sometimes that just has to be enough …

And He is enough.  Praying for two families right now.  Join me.

Today’s sermon: A Wise and Faithful Servant

11 Aug

The Wise and Faithful Servant from Ebenezer BC on Vimeo.