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An Open Letter to my LEO friends

12 Oct

I’ve thought about you and your families so much in the past couple of weeks.  The community of Florence, SC, has been through so much.  We are experiencing something other communities have experienced, but it hurts more for us when it hits close to home.  And it has hit about as close to home as it can …

So, I wanted to share some thoughts with you, my LEO friends.

  1.  YOU ARE LOVED.  I KNOW this to be true in Florence, SC.  Floods come, hurricanes roll through, and now even active shooters do their evil.  And, every time, you run toward the danger.  You stand between the danger and me.  Between the danger and the people you serve and love.  And we love you for it.  We are safe because you are there.  Please don’t ever forget that.
  2. YOU MAKE A DIFFERENCE.  In past days, people have asked “HOW COULD SOMEONE?  WHY DO PEOPLE HATE LEOS SO MUCH?”  And I know some of you have questioned if you even make a difference.  YOU DO.  Your presence provides safety.  Your presence STOPS tragedies.  Your presence ENDS violence.  Please don’t ever forget that, because WE WON’T.
  3. WHEN YOU HURT, WE HURT.  At least, those of us who pray fervently for you.  We do not know and cannot conceive of the danger you face.  But, when you hurt, we hurt with you.  And many of us will pray and pray and pray for you.  Please don’t ever forget that.
  4. YOU HELP US SO MUCH, THAT WE WANT TO HELP YOU.  I promise that to be true.  I cannot speak for other towns and cities, but I KNOW Florence, SC, does not take you for granted.  And I pray that we never will.  PLEASE, tell us how to help you and we will do it.  I PROMISE!!  Please REMEMBER that!!!

May God bless you, peacemakers!!!!

Are we near the end?

21 May

An age-old question, for which I have no answer.  So … If you are REALLY looking for the answer to that particular question, do yourself a favor and stop reading this now.

Hmmmm … You are still here, huh??  With a little more time to focus on the news and current events this week, I am now wishing I had NOT focused on news and current events.  But ignoring what is going on all around us will do NONE OF US any good.  As I ran this morning, this question revolved around in my mind:  Is this the end of western civilization?  I do not have an answer.  In some ways, that would be a HORRIBLE thing.  In other ways, it might not be so bad.  However …

Lately it seems we are reverting back to the social constructs of the old west.  Our culture seems to be stepping back to a time when violence was the ONLY ANSWER, and whomever has the biggest gun and steadiest shot wins.  A sad day, indeed.  Everything in the news AND in the world around us points to the end.  Makes those of us who know Christ wonder if He will be coming back soon. The answer to THAT question is YES HE WILL!!! But He reminded us that no man or woman knows the day or time, that He didn’t even know, ONLY THE FATHER KNOWS WHEN THAT WILL HAPPEN.

So.  I am a follower of Christ.  What can I do to make a difference in a world that seems to be whirl pooling down a drain???   BE THE BEST CHRIST I CAN BE.  BE THE BODY OF CHRIST.  Period.  Our world needs us to show them Christ and to tell them about Christ NOW MORE THAN EVER BEFORE.  He told us there would be days like this.  The best thing we can do is LOVE with God’s kind of love.  And I KNOW that will be tough.  But He commands it.

Praying for you today, that you can be all that God has called you to be.  Please do the same for me!!


4 Apr

This is a blog post that has been a week in the making … Due to all of the sickness I’ve had in the past three weeks, it just hasn’t worked it’s way out of my mind until now!!  (With a cold, then a sinus infection, then the stomach virus from Hades, I feel like my life has been an episode of Wipeout)

These past few weeks has given me many opportunities to think about this.  I deal with it daily, especially for the past three years of my life, and now I am watching this happen to many of my friends.  And it is not fun…

A HERO is someone who rises above the ordinary to accomplish feats that seem impossible.  Many of our heroes are heroes because they have done this at great personal risk and sacrifice, many times rising above huge obstacles to pull us from the fire.  When I look around, there really ARE heroes in life… all around us.

And when I think of the first heroes we knew, I am drawn to people like my dad.  And I have certainly blogged enough about him in the last few years, but let me make it clear:  Two of my greatest heroes are Don and Janet Wike.  They have ALWAYS gone above and beyond for me, my sisters, and my family.  And even though dad is enduring great sickness, mom has just stepped in and filled the hero bill in an even GREATER way.

But, these past few weeks I’ve seen MANY heroes in tough spots.  I’ve seen Shirley, a hero that is doing EXACTLY what my mom is doing here in Florence in taking care of her husband (who is on the same track as my dad), and now Shirley is facing some MAJOR medical battles.  And, true to form, as I talked to her yesterday (over the phone, because I wouldn’t DARE give her this stomach thing) she has a terrific attitude and is only thinking of her family …  If attitude were 50% of the cure, then she would be 75% cured RIGHT NOW!!

I’ve seen my friend Bob, a true man of steel, face one of the toughest cancer surgeries that EXISTS.  And, so far, he is doing well.  The road will be long for him, but this is one of the toughest dudes I know.  I think once cancer realizes WHO it is messing with, it will go running like a sissy.

I visited my friend Nick, whom I haven’t seen in many years.  Nick is the father of one of my oldest friends and he always treated me like a son, too.  And when someone loves you, you cannot help but love them.  I haven’t seen him in at least 20 years, but he had a major stroke and is now recovering in rehab.  And I considered it a great honor to even get to go see him last Friday.  He is another one of the heroes that will not let this get him!!

And, today, a close friend, Mary, will undergo a second surgery for cancer.  She is another one of those “Wonder Woman” types, with a heart of gold and the courage of a momma bear when it comes to her family.  Now, she is gonna be FINE and will outlive many of us who read this.  But, she is a hero just the same.

And it is hard to see heroes when they are down, even if only for a little while.  When I think about some of what I’ve seen these past few weeks … And even these past 18 years I’ve been at Ebenezer … It forces me to realize that these heroes that we know and love ARE only human.  And there will be a day when each of them (as each of US) will cross over that river … And then, WHERE will all of the heroes be???

And I’ve realized this:  WE HAVE TO STEP UP!!  Because, if we are man and woman enough to do this, WE are the next generation of heroes!!  And maybe NOW is the time for some of US to step up and fill the gaps … and do extraordinary things for those around us.  For NO reason, perhaps other than the fact that God is calling us.

When I think about all of the heroes I’ve known at EBC and even in my life, I realize most all of them have done the things they have done in the power of the Holy Spirit.  And the same GOD … the same HOLY SPIRIT … has promised to BE WITH US and EMPOWER US to do HEROIC THINGS!!  Things that defy explanation!!!

So, think about it … Maybe it is time for YOU to step up!!

And please don’t forget to pray for these heroes!!  And the ones in your lives, too!

Maybe we need to rely on God more?

7 Nov

Election day.  The day Americans go out and exercise the power of democracy.  And there usually is one winner and one loser in each race.  Some of the races are bigger … some are smaller … ALL ARE IMPORTANT!

I watched local races, state races, national races.  MOST of them came out the way I wanted them to!!  Over the past few months, I’ve watched a long-time friend (Willard Dorriety) work hard, pray, and eventually WIN a seat on the Florence County Council.  And I don’t think anyone could do a better job!  But with him, I have the advantage of KNOWING him, so my support and faith in his integrity has solid experience to go by …

I do not know Tom Rice.  He was elected to serve in the newly-created US House District 7.  I did try to research, read about him, talk to people who know him.  My best HOPE is that he will represent our area well.

I do not know Mitt Romney, but I did feel he represented my values and beliefs more than the other candidate.  Rick Warren reminded us in a tweet from a day or two ago that he personally had spent time with both candidates, and neither one claimed to be an evangelical Christian. So, neither candidate would come close to MIRRORING my beliefs.  But the President defeated Mitt Romney for a second term.

What do ALL of these and many other races have in common??

Do you give up??

WE NEED TO PRAY.  All of those elected yesterday are HUMAN.  Fallible.  Imperfect.  And they ALL need our prayer!!  It might be easier to encourage and stay in touch with a man who is a faithful member of my church, but I need to pray for those others in charge with as much fervor.  I may or may not agree with their platforms and beliefs, but I still MUST pray for them.

Seriously, we cannot put our hope in a man or woman who holds a political office.  Maybe in some ways God is reminding us that HE ALONE is worthy???

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!!


Help spread the word about Taylor’s race!!!

8 May

Runners, walkers, and all around fun people::

Don’t forget to sign up for Taylor’s Race. It’s on May 19th at West Florence, a 5K, 10K and fun run with the pirates. There will be free food, singing, face painting, tattoos, goodie bags, and so much more. A good fun family event!

For more info, check it out on the web at

Misrepresented and insulted by The State

25 Apr

A friend mailed an article to me yesterday.  It was published in The State newspaper and, to be fair, I have included a link to the article:

In this article, a Unitarian Universalist pastor in Columbia (SC) decided to take on Christianity … particularly Christians in the South.  Specifically, he was talking to you and me if Christ is our Savior and we believe the Bible is true!  (Which, in his article, he implies that he doesn’t believe in the “Mystical” parts)

I read this and was very disappointed that The State would publish such words that insult me because of my beliefs.  If I were of another faith, I don’t think they would have dared to do this.

In his article, this pastor stated Christianity is possessed by two demons:  The first is that of right-wing politics.  I do consider myself conservative, but not a right-winger.  One thing I’ve learned over the years is “right and left wing” definitions are ALWAYS relative to those defining them.  He called several political issues out and assumed exactly how we all feel about them.

When you assume … well, you know the rest.  He has no idea about me and what I believe.  I bet he wouldn’t believe that I do not vote a party line … I am convicted to vote for individual candidates.  I look for those who share my beliefs and values, and I take into account past histories and voting records.  In other words, I do my homework.  In regard to the political issues, I always try to find the biblical answer to those and that is how I roll because I do believe, as foolish as some might think it, that God DOES have a better plan for my life than I could possibly have.  And that God has a better plan FOR THIS WORLD than WE could possibly develop.

Honestly, though, what disturbed me even more was the “second demon” to which he referred:  Supernaturalism.  He stated this as a primitive, pre-scientific worldview that no educated, thinking person could possibly hold as credible.  I will try not to mislead or misquote on this, so I urge you to go read his article.  But, we have great differences here:

I believe in Heaven.

I believe in Hell.

I believe Jesus was born of a virgin.

I believe He ROSE AGAIN on the THIRD DAY and HE IS ALIVE!!!!

And, I do not believe this is merely “magical thinking” that gets me through life.  I KNOW all of this to be true because HE LIVES WITHIN MY HEART!!  And, I take pity on a pastor and people who are misled into believing the only possible explanation of God is one that fits with OUR powers of reasoning.  Yes, I pity those who do not know the Holy Spirit because they would never let Him in.

Why did I write this today?  Because I believe God is far beyond any explanation we can give for Him, any reasoning that we can develop, and any definition we can understand.  Because, if He were not, wouldn’t we all be gods???

Ministry should build the kingdom

4 Jan

One of the principles of ANY ministry MUST BE building the Kingdom of God.  If it doesn’t build the kingdom, in some way, then the church shouldn’t be doing it.  Period.  This is a guideline that we, the staff at Ebenezer, has tried to live by for YEARS and YEARS now.  We believe in it and we weigh everything against it.

I love basketball.  I played in high school.  Started coaching while in high school, and continued for years afterward.  I’ve really enjoyed watching my kids play and love it.  And, honestly, I love college basketball more than any other sport on TV (YES, more than football.  Go figure.)  That’s why it is really hard for me to write this, but I am personally having a hard time seeing how the youth basketball league at Ebenezer is building the kingdom.

I KNOW it does good things, like bring families into our church and other participating churches that might not come in otherwise.  Maybe that is enough.  But it seems to me the problems are getting worse and some other churches are not willing to be part of any solutions.  In fact, one church in particular seems to be involved in most of these types of problems.

The most recent disgusting event (the events get more and more disgusting every time) is a coach in one of the younger leagues that told his team to take a certain player that was really good for another team out.  “Draw blood if necessary.”  By the way, they did flagrantly foul the kid and put him out of the game.

REALLY MAN???  Is winning THAT important to you??  Is that what this league means to you??  To your church??  I can tell you with all certainty if he were an Ebenezer coach, he would’ve coached his last game.

I am praying this week that his church will take this matter as seriously as it actually is.  I am praying that all churches who participate will look at this league and see it as a tool to build the kingdom, not an avenue to put another trophy in their trophy case.

And, come to think of it, maybe the solution is not dismantling the league, but disinviting churches that refuse to see this as a ministry??  Hmmm … interesting thought.

Blankets for Hope

6 Dec

Ashley Griffin is an 8th grade IB student at Williams Middle School in Florence. She is very excited about her service project that is called, “Blankets for Hope.” The goal is to help the needy people of Florence. With the increased costs of heating fuel and the rise in unemployment numbers, many people are struggling to keep their homes warm. Heating costs take up a large percentage of their weekly pay. Some people are even homeless. As the weather gets colder, the need for blankets will rise.

Ashley wants to collect used or new blankets (used and clean is great) of any kind (baby, throw, bed, etc.) to help give hope and warmth to needy people in the Florence community this holiday season.

Ashley has made seven collection boxes for the community and they have been distributed to:
Williams Middle School
All Saints Episcopal Day School (only for internal collection)
Starbucks at 5 Points
Advanced Dental Center at 2214 W. Palmetto St.
Florence YMCA
Ebenezer Baptist Church
Dr.’s Welch and Bonds Orthodontist Office off 2nd Loop Rd.

Ashley hopes that she will get a large number of blanket donations, and she plans to donate them all back into the local Florence community to organizations such as the House of Hope, Lighthouse Ministries, and others.

The boxes are now out and Ashley is going to collect the boxes next Wednesday, December 14th, so that she can donate the blankets before Christmas. So, please go through your drawers and closets to donate a blanket and help those in need this holiday season!

A warm blanket brings hope!

If God called today, would you answer??

8 Nov

If God called you, or texted you, or sent you a message on Facebook, or emailed, and told you He wants you to do something that absolutely makes no sense at all … would you do it??  Would you answer??

Sunday morning, we talked about Abram and his answer to God’s call.  How it made no sense at all.  Flew in the face of conventional wisdom.  And God found Abram righteous because of his faithful obedience!  Another great story of God’s call for total obedience is a few chapters before Abram in Genesis 6.  God called Noah to build an ark because He was going to FLOOD THE EARTH and it had NEVER RAINED.  EVER.  And people thought Noah was crazy.  They made fun of him, laughed about him as they drank and partied.  Because it made no sense to them.  And because they did not have the faith in God to believe He WILL keep His word.  (Ironically, their lack of faith and trust in God Almighty directly resulted in their deaths)

Today I find myself really thinking and praying for a brother in Christ.  A fellow pastor who is following the leadership of the Holy Spirit right now and people think it’s crazy.  God often calls us to God-sized tasks, because if they were simple or easy to accomplish, there would be no need for His presence.

And, those of us who are not part of that segment of God’s plan have no business judging it.  Period.

If God called YOU today, would YOU answer?