Archive | September, 2013


30 Sep

This past week I saw the entire spectrum of life unfold before me.  And in all of it, FAMILY plays a key and vital role.  Earlier last week I saw the burial of a good friend.  Actually, the father of a really good friend for most of my life.  And at the core of it all was family.  How does someone make it through such trying times??  Without God and without family, it would be virtually impossible.

Later in the week, I took my parents down to the Isle of Palms for a wedding … well, SORT OF a wedding.  My nephew and his bride have actually been married for over a year now.  But life has just slowed down enough for them to be able to plan a blessing of the wedding, something done in the Catholic church for church recognition of the marriage.  The service itself was brief and very meaningful.  And the celebration surrounding it was much like that of a traditional wedding.  And I don’t see how anyone could ever make it through that without God and without family,

It boggles my mind how some don’t value family.  When you minimize family or cut them off all together, there is a price to be paid down the road.  You might say “Well, you don’t understand what I’ve been through with my family.”  Maybe.  But I know they hold a special place in our heart.  And when they are no longer with us, if we have denied them access to our lives, we will pay a price.

Today I am thankful for my family.

This might just be about YOU

24 Sep

Today I did a funeral for a man who made a huge impact on my life.  And even though life and circumstances have been so that I haven’t spent a lot of time with him in the past 20 years, I still very clearly see his impact on my life today.

This blog post is for every parent who spends time with the friends of their kids.  Who opens their homes, their tables, their lives to their “kids” who do not share their blood or DNA.

When I look at the adults who shaped my life, my parents hold the top spot on that list.  I see them in myself every day.  And, honestly, there are several other adults who are on that list.  Who played major roles in shaping who I would become.  Who helped to make me the man I am today.  There are teachers, coaches, mentors, friends.  And then there are my other dads.  There are only a couple of them.  They were the fathers of my friends as I was growing up, and they helped teach me what it means to be a man… a dad … a husband.  I see their fingerprints in my life as well.  As I rode and walked into the wilds of Honduras this past summer, delivering Bibles and helping churches, ALL of these were with me.  And I think about them often.

Today, I did the funeral of one of my “dads.”  His name?  Walter Ronald Burton, but we knew him as “Nick.”  How did they get “Nick” from Walter Ronald??  I asked often.  Nick had a different answer every time.  That is just how he rolled!!  He had a great sense of humor and knew the value of laughter.  Always had an encouraging word when we needed it.  Would cut our tails when we needed it as well.  He loved his family, and he loved those of us who were his sons’s friends and considered us family as well.

Nick and his sweet wife, Jane, were those parents.  The ones who would open their doors to us.  Who would get us to stay for supper.  As a dad, I now KNOW there had to be times when he came home from a long day of work, saw our cars in his driveway, and just cringed.  But we NEVER saw that or knew that.  That is just how he was.

So, to you parents who do that today. Who open their homes, tables, hearts, and lives to the friends of their children, I leave you with this:  YOU HAVE NO IDEA ABOUT THE INFLUENCE YOU ARE MAKING RIGHT NOW.  DO IT WELL!!  Do it like Nick.  Because you ARE making a difference.  YOU are shaping lives.  And that is pretty cool!!

Now … Of all of the great mysteries of life, I guess I will have to wait until I get to Heaven to ask Nick, once again, “Why Nick?”  And I cannot wait for the 20 new answers he will have for me!!!

Will we do the right thing?

16 Sep

There is a lot of buzz and excitement surrounding Fam Jam 2013, a Christian music festival sponsored by Ebenezer and Radio Free Florence this weekend.  I am grateful for the “For Those Who Dare” Sunday School class and all of their hard work producing this event.  Much prayer and planning has gone into this.  And, at the end of the day, I wonder if we will do the right thing.

Once, a man approached Jesus and asked Him, “What kind of clothes must I wear to attend church?”  Jesus answered, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, ‘You MUST wear dress pants, a collared shirt, and a conventional tie or bow tie.  And a sports coat would be nice, but a suit would be AWESOME.  And if you don’t wear clothes like this, you will NOT please Me and you might not get into Heaven.'”

Okay, that NEVER happened.  Jesus never said those things.  When asked by the Samaritan woman about the right place to worship, Jesus told her that God seeks people that worship Him with ALL OF THEIR HEART.  No mention of bow ties.  No mention of the right kind of shoes or clothes.  So I wonder why WE, the church, place so much importance on those things???

My prayer for this weekend is that we will see many people who do not know Christ, and that we might have a chance to introduce them to Christ.  And I am also praying we won’t give them a pamphlet on the dress code or the appropriate things to do to “FIT IN” at Ebenezer.  Because, quite frankly, NONE of that is biblical.  And you can check me on that if you wish!!

Life-saving station

9 Sep

I hope you were able to attend the HOW report last night.  Excitement is building and God is doing something, and I am excited that Ebenezer people care about those who are lost around us!!!  As we focus on what God wants us to do as our next steps, let us never forget that building any kind of building will not reach the 17,000+ lost people within a three-mile radius of our church.   NOTHING will happen until we tell them!

I don’t know the origin of this story.  I found it years ago and have used it more than once in a sermon.  Today, I am praying we at Ebenezer remember and get excited about what God has called us to do , and never become like this.  Join me in that prayer.

The story:

On a dangerous sea coast where shipwrecks often occur, there was once a crude little life-saving station. The building was just a hut, and there was only one boat, but the few devoted members kept a constant watch over the sea and with no thought for themselves went out day and night tirelessly searching for the lost. Some of those who were saved, and various others in the surrounding area, wanted to become associated with the station and give of their time and money and effort for the support of its work. New boats were bought and new crews trained. The little lifesaving station grew.

Some members of the lifesaving station were unhappy that the building was so crude and poorly equipped. They felt that a more comfortable place should be provided as the first refuge of those saved from the sea. They replaced the emergency cots with beds and put better furniture in the enlarged building. Now the lifesaving station became a popular gathering place for its members, and they decorated it beautifully and furnished it exquisitely, because they used it as sort of a club.

Fewer members were now interested in going to sea on lifesaving missions, so they hired lifeboat crews to do this work. The lifesaving motif still prevailed in this club’s decorations, and there was a miniature lifeboat in the room where the club initiations were held.

About this time a large ship was wrecked off the coast, and the hired crews brought in boatloads of cold, wet, and half-drowned people. They were dirty and sick, and some of them had black skin and some had yellow skin. The beautiful new club was in chaos. So the property committee immediately had a shower house built outside the club where victims of shipwreck could be cleaned up before coming inside.

At the next meeting, there was a split in the club membership. Most of the members wanted to stop the club’s lifesaving activities, since they were unpleasant and a hindrance to the normal social life of the club. Some members insisted upon lifesaving as their primary purpose and pointed out that they were still called a lifesaving station. But they were finally voted down and told that if they wanted to save the lives of all the various kinds of people who were shipwrecked in those waters, they could begin their own lifesaving station down the coast. They did.

As the years went by, the new station experienced the same changes that had occurred in the old. It evolved into a club, and yet another lifesaving station was founded. History continued to repeat itself, and if you visit that sea coast today you will find a number of exclusive clubs along the shore. Shipwrecks are frequent in those waters, but most of the people drown.


Today’s sermon

1 Sep

Your Labor is not in vain from Ebenezer BC on Vimeo.