Archive | February, 2016

We KNOW what We Want

22 Feb

In 1 Samuel 8 (and following), the Children of Israel told Samuel (and God) that they wanted a KING!!  They had thought about it … ALL of their neighboring peoples had a king.  THEY WANTED A KING!!  God warned them, through Samuel, that they REALLY did NOT want a king.  That they were trading their freedom under God for tyranny.  They immediately replied “NOPE!!  WE WANT A KING!”  And God allowed them to have a king.  And He allowed them to suffer the consequences of their short-sightedness.

Where was the problem here???  The problem was the people decided they knew better than God.  They had a better plan.  They wanted what they wanted.  Period.

I see many parallels between this event and where we are as a nation.  Many of us have decided we have the ONLY plan for helping America to recover.  We are not asking God for His help.  We’ve got this one.

And, much like the Children of Israel in 1 Samuel, the truth is we are HEADED FOR DISASTER and TYRANNY if we are walking into this without God.  Pray for our nation.  We need God to intervene right now more than ever before.

Really BEING the Body

8 Feb

In the Ebenezer pulpit yesterday we talked about really BEING the Body of Christ.  How it extends beyond our property lines.  How we are called to build the Kingdom of God alongside other like-minded people of our faith, such as Trinity Presbyterian across the way from us, and St Paul United Methodist, and so on …  At one point we were thinking about what it means to be a FAMILY at Ebenezer.  I went on a mini-tangent with NO IDEA that hours later I would see it unfold before my eyes!!

At Ebenezer, the word FAMILY … the very CONCEPT of FAMILY extends far beyond the nostalgic images the word FAMILY might conjure up in our hearts and minds.  It really does look a lot like the Acts 2 church.  When I wrote that sermon last week, I didn’t write that little mini-rant that came out of my mouth.  In fact, it was one of those things God put on my heart as I was in the pulpit.  It kind of came out at our 8:30 worship.  20 minutes after that worship service was over, I was standing in the Young SS Class room with a bunch of my friends learning that one of their member’s parents (who is ALSO a part of the EBC family) was missing.  It seemed some medical issues have clouded her judgment and she walked out of the house after everyone was asleep at some point the previous night or the next morning and no one knew where she was.  It struck home with me knowing how many times Dad tried to “escape” to get back to his three small children that lived in Greenville.  (That might’ve been the ONLY thing that was good about his being wheelchair-bound).

We prayed for that family in the 11:00 service, and afterward I watched Ebenezer mobilize.  We coordinated our efforts as best we could with the Florence County Sheriff’s Office.  I saw how God had the RIGHT person on point, the RIGHT person coordinating the map and people, and I saw tons of Ebenezer people join with others in our community and give up a Sunday because we were hoping to find this dear lady.  There were around 150 volunteers with feet on the ground, and somewhere between 75-100 were being routed from the EBC Family Life Center.

We searched.  We prayed.  As we drove to our different search areas, we scanned the woods and back yards.  We had no idea how long she had been out and knew it had been cold and rainy in the early morning hours.  In the afternoon, it was mostly cold and windy.  We started realizing we were running out of daylight and she might’ve been running out of time.

God blessed us with a happy ending.  Our dear friend wasn’t far away and she actually walked back up into the circus that was the search.  It was frightening but that moment was wonderful.

On the other side of it all when the adrenaline stopped pumping, I realized that I had JUST SEEN the words of my sermon come true.  NOT because of anything I did … But because of what GOD is doing in the midst of His people at Ebenezer.  And in other churches.  In the midst of His people in Florence, He did something incredible and amazing.  As hard a day as that was, I am thankful for the result.  And thankful to be part of a people who love each other as much as I saw yesterday.

What we are supposed to BE?

1 Feb

Several adults in a church … Followers of Christ, mind you … Decide they don’t like a certain adult because ____________ (fill in a reason).  So they ostracize.  They criticize.  They gossip.  They pick apart each flaw and every mistake.  Their pastor sees it, and it breaks his heart.  And nothing anyone tries to do will sway them or change their minds.

I saw an article today about a scientific study that said hanging around in a bar where everybody knows your name is a good thing.  Step beyond the fact that it is a bar and I am a Southern Baptist pastor, and see a HUGE truth here:  It IS healthy to be a part of a community that accepts people in spite of their faults, just as they are … THAT is what the article is getting at.  And, as a pastor, it disgusts me to think that a bar could be outdoing any church.  My church.  So, the true question for those of us who follow Christ is this:  DO WE ACCEPT OTHERS?  CAN WE SEE BEYOND THEIR FAULTS AND SINS AND SEE THE POTENTIAL GOD HAS FOR THEM??

I mean, after all, Jesus Christ embraced US JUST AS WE WERE.  WHY are we not capable of doing the same?  Why would we ever ostracize, criticize, and gossip?  Will we read these truths and realize when Jesus said to LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOU LOVE YOURSELF that THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT HE MEANT?

No, I am not recommending that anyone go find a bar to be your community.  No, church, that is not at all what I am saying.  What I AM BEGGING YOU TO DO IS UNDERSTAND THAT WE NEED TO BE THE COMMUNITY THAT ACCEPTS OTHERS.  Period.

The State of Being

1 Feb

Church, we are in the middle of troubling times.  The way the world has changed in the past two years (let alone the past two decades) is troubling at best.  The things Jesus taught about in Luke 12 concerning character and the possibility of persecution for the Church could very well come true in our generation.  We need NOT fear (go read Luke 12 if you don’t believe me!!), but we do need to be ready!!

Growing up at Washington Avenue Baptist Church in Greenville, I had two great pastors:  Dan Greer and Eddie Greene.  Both of these men reminded us constantly to be ready, that there might be a day when we will not have God’s word readily available.  They both impressed the need for us to memorize it in case there is a day when we cannot have it.  I never could imagine that being a reality in America.  Today, I almost see it as a certainty in the next few years … We never know what will happen.  BE READY!!!

Now more than ever, this world needs us to BE the people of God we are called to be!!  I’m praying we all strive to that today.  Hope you will join me, not only in praying for this but also in stretching towards that goal!!