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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?

Day One

16 Sep

Day One of the Family Worship Weekend is HERE!!!  This is a day for which we’ve prayed for months.  And our prayer is simply this:  That families in our area will draw closer to God and closer to each other as a result of what He does this weekend!!

I know there are several “distractions” for this weekend (Clemson V Auburn, USC V Navy, opening day of deer season for rifles), and yet this is where God led us and this is where we are.  As I write this, Jeff Slaughter and Tom Blackaby are already preparing for this weekend.  I am preparing for a funeral, but after that, it’s all about what God will do tonight, tomorrow, and Sunday. And my prayer is EVERY FAMILY that needs a closer walk with God and a closer walk with each other will be there!!

The schedule is:

TONIGHT – 7pm – Worship Rally with dessert social afterward

SATURDAY – 4pm – Session ONE (Adults with Tom and kids with Jeff)

5:30    Supper in the FLC

7:00    Combined worship in FLC

SUNDAY –     9:15am   Sunday School

10:30am  Combined Worship in FLC

More Scandalous, Juicy Gossip about Ebenezer

12 Sep

Yeah … I’ve got to stop using titles like that.  Sadly, though, it is guaranteed to get people to read this blog entry!!!

Today I want you to know how excited I am about our Family Worship Weekend coming up this weekend (September 16, 17, & 18) with Jeff Slaughter and Tom Blackaby.  This event is for ANYONE and EVERYONE (not just Ebenezerites) and has been prayed over and designed to bring families BACK to a right worship relationship with each other, and most of all with God!!  Our staff and some other hard-working Ebenezerites have worked to bring this thing to fruition and all we now need is YOU!!  YOU to PRAY … YOU to BE THERE and SEE what God has in store for us all!!!

It all starts Friday night at 7pm with the Family Reunion, a time for all of us to gather and enjoy each other and enjoy GOD!!

Saturday, Session 1 starts at 4pm followed by Dinner at 5:45 (please contact the church office and let us know if you are coming to dinner) followed by Session 2 at 6:30.

Sunday morning, we will be on our combined schedule with Sunday School at 9:15 and Combined Worship  in the FLC at 10:30 (with NO Evening Worship).

God is doing something really exciting here!!!  Hope you will come and see!

I believe in God

28 Jul

Have you ever watched “My name is Earl?”  Earl was a small-time petty criminal who had something good happen in his life, saw Carson Daly talking about kharma in an interview, and decided to dedicate his life to righting the wrongs he’d done to keep kharma on his good side!!  Funny sitcom premise … but is it real???

Well, I believe God has a sense of humor.  AND sometimes what goes around comes around.  Our sin will come back to us in ways that are more than coincidental.  But, believe me, God is in control of all that exists!!

Probably 14 years ago, Ebenezer had a men’s basketball league.  It is solely responsible for the blood pressure medicine I take today!!!  As Minister of Youth and Recreation, I had the unfortunate pleasure of directing that league when I could find no one willing to do it (because of stuff like this).  I’ll never forget the night a young man was thrown out of a game and he got wildly angry.  He was out of control.  The last thing he told me as he was dragged out of the Family Life Center by his team was “I’ll burn this building down!!!”  That league was so bad this didn’t even alarm me.  It was mild in comparison to some of the things people had screamed at me because they’d been suspended for fighting, or cussing refs out, or cussing me out.  I didn’t even bother reporting it.  But, what happened next was definitely a God-thing!!

Back then, Kenney Boone(who is a member at EBC) was the arson investigator for the Florence County Sheriff’s Office.  He’d invited the guys on church staff to come down to Effingham and tour the jail.  It happened to be the day after this incident.  As we were touring the jail, we rounded a corner AND THERE HE WAS.  I don’t even remember his name, but he worked at the jail!!!!  And I was there with the arson investigator!!!!  I think he soiled himself ….

What is the moral of this story??  God knows and hears EVERYTHING.  God is a God of justice.  And He has a sense of humor!  Don’t ever threaten to burn His house down!

Be careful, little mouth, what you say!

18 May

Circumstances this week reminded me of something that happened a long time ago, but has a valuable lesson attached.  So, here goes:

Many years ago, I had a friend that coached Dixie Youth baseball.  As adults sometimes do, there were some who tried to do some unethical things and wanted to pull this man in … But he wouldn’t bite.  This setup culminated in a confrontation between my friend and another.  It was not a pretty scene at the park!

The day after this scene, my friend came to me and told me everything.  I encouraged him to keep doing the right thing, and admired him afterward for the guts it took to stand up.  He died later that day in a freak accident.  (This is a true story)

I wonder now, years later, how this impacts those who were giving him such a hard time for their agendas??  I also use this to remind me to be careful how I conduct myself with others!  This reminds all of us there are no guarantees for tomorrow, and we should all be ready to meet our Maker by knowing Jesus Christ as our personal Savior!!

Most of all, it reminds me of this song I learned in preschool:  Oh, be careful little mouth, what you say!!  Hope you have a good day!  And … let’s be careful out there!