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Slowing Down

28 Mar

There is something to be said for SLOWING DOWN.  Believe me.  It seems that lately I have been meeting myself coming and going.  A funeral here.  A meeting there (and here and everywhere).  A handful of fires.  A computer goes down.  Projectors blink.  It.  Never.  Stops.

I had an opportunity to come to Columbia for two days of uninterrupted study.  A chance to get away.  To pray.  To work on upcoming sermons.  To plan for the remainder of the year.  To take a breath.  Honestly, once I slowed down and took a deep breath, I was shocked at the things that flowed out.  Almost like taking a sip from a fire hydrant.  A TON of ideas worth praying over and pursuing.  But it makes me wonder …

What if I took the time to just slow down once or twice a week, just to close my eyes and listen to God and to what is going on around me??  I wonder how much more of an asset to the Kingdom of God I would be if only I could do that???

I am not sure, but I think we are going to find out.  I think I’m gonna give this a try.  We shall see!!!

Sometimes, we forget

7 Nov

Strength.  A must-have to make it through life today.  All of the stress of life bears down, tightens, wrings you out.  You must have strength to make it through.  From where do YOU draw your strength?

Yesterday I was talking to a friend about basketball drills.  Those difficult physical challenges our coaches placed before us at countless practices.  The best drills have purpose:  Build stamina … Target specific muscle groups … Wear out a bunch of smart-alec teenagers who think they have the answer to everything but really know nothing …  I had a coach in high school that would make us run cross country for our late summer/fall conditioning.  Then, the first two weeks of practice we wouldn’t even SEE a basketball.  Nothing but sprints, drills, jumping, and other physical challenges.  And, honestly, we were in awesome shape when the season started!!  (Didn’t win too many games … but we could run with ANYONE.)

HOWEVER … Basketball is not life.  Basketball is a sprint.  Life is more of a long race.  A feat of endurance.  A matter of pace.  And you will need a DEEP WELL of strength to make it.

I believe this is why God gave us Proverbs 3:5-6.  Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.  In all of your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight!  If you are going to MAKE IT in this race, you need HIM!!  You need HIS STRENGTH!!  You need to TRUST HIM!!

Candidly, I will admit that I sometimes forget the previous fact.  Yes, me … A “pastor.”  Not listening to my own sermons again.  I try to put my head down and muddle through life.  And I grow weak.  And life keeps coming like a fire hydrant spraying water into your face.  And the stress presses in.  Then frustration.  Anger.  Helplessness.

And then I realize that I cannot FIX others.  I cannot even FIX myself.  But those words Solomon wrote in Proverbs 3 shine like a beacon.  And I needed to remember.  I can trust Him … He is ALREADY AT WORK on all of it!!  I just need to open my eyes and see Him!!

Another Brick in the Wall

31 Aug


I really wasn’t prepared for this on Saturday, but I had to knock five cement blocks out of a wall in Mom and Dad’s basement.  Long story, but I was making room for a new furnace that will be installed in the next few days…  It had been a long time since I’ve done any demo like this and I was reminded of a fundamental truth about blocks and bricks:  Blocks and bricks that are mortared together have a collective strength that they don’t have individually.

I talked about this in my sermon yesterday.  Knocking out the first brick in the line was TOUGH!!!  But once I got the first one out, the rest were a piece of cake!  Then, when I moved to the second row, the same principle held true:  The first one was MURDER.  The rest were easy!

This might not be the best method, but I often prepare and meditate on my sermon material while I work.  Or workout.  I go over it and think about it and kick it around.  As I worked all day Friday and Saturday at the house, I missed this one!! It hit me on Sunday morning right before I walked into early worship.

WE are like the blocks.  WE … the CHURCH.  When we stand together we make a wall that is STRONGER than any of us are as individual blocks.  When one block is missing, our wall is weakened.  THAT IS WHAT IS SO IMPORTANT ABOUT BEING A CHURCH FAMILY!!!  When YOU are missing, someone else might be struggling because the wall is weakened. The family is less than it should be.

I have several friends who are facing MAJOR THINGS in their lives right now.  Several in my Ebenezer family.  And I intend, to the best of my ability, TO BE A BRICK IN THEIR WALL.  TO HELP THEM FACE IT ALL STRONG AND UNITE FOR THEM.  Because, I know they will do the same for me when the time is right.  How about you???

Not much to say

15 Mar

I was researching some family information on my blog this evening and I realized I have only blogged four times this year. That has to be an all-time low for me. But, honestly, I really haven’t had much to say.

I hoped 2015 would be a better year. So far, it really hasn’t. I have either attended or officiated at more funerals in the past few weeks than I did in the last two years. This weekend, as we laid my own father to rest, I realized I still haven’t been able to come to grips with my mother’s death in December. One of my friends pointed out that I really haven’t had time to grieve because, as the waves crash in around me, I find myself in the role of pastor and caregiver to family after family that is dealing with death. Dealing with the very same issues that I have been unable to process. This is quite a struggle.

I will blog again. Soon. But for now I might just enjoy the quiet.

I’ve waited a YEAR to write this

3 Jan

Yep, it was one year ago TODAY when my fitness journey really kicked into high gear. One year ago, today, I was 122 pounds heavier. I’m not going to write the details and specifics of that, because I already have here:

And here:

And here:

So, today I will write about how it has enabled me to make it through this year!! This past year was a year of great highs and the lowest lows. There have been times when I know if I still weighed 307 pounds (or close to it), the stress of life would’ve definitely put me on my knees and possibly in the hospital. It is amazing how God can prepare us for things to come, and there have been many times when the physical condition I was in at the time was the only thing keeping me going.

I’ve got to be honest with you: It feels really good to walk into a men’s clothing store and return large-sized shirts I got as Christmas gifts because they were too big. One of the biggest challenges I faced before was finding the clothes I liked in my sizes … NOW, ironically, the shirts that I like I can ALWAYS find in XXL, but cannot find them in MY NEW SIZE!! I guess Mick Jagger was right: You can’t always get what you want. But, I’ll stay this size, thanks!!

My goal now is to stay where I am. NOT to gain weight back now that I have reached my goal. MyFitnessPal is a big part of that plan. I have now set it into maintenance mode and STILL log calories. And I am STILL exercising and especially running. And Diana and I are still trying to eat as healthily as possible. And that is my plan!!

My mom was so proud of what I had done this year. She was worried about my health and over the years, we had many conversations about it. I will not only do this for ME and for MY FAMILY, because I want to be here with them as long as I possibly can, but I will do this for HER because I know it made her happy.

Hope you have a great year!! If I can help YOU kick your journey into high gear in 2015, please don’t hesitate to let me!!!!

The Other Side

8 Dec

We did something yesterday that we never expected to do. Sure, we know the only certain things for we Americans are death and taxes, and we know the number of our days is already known to God, but seldom are we ready so see someone we love cross over to the other side. And, as morbid as it sounds, I never thought we would see Mom cross over before my dad. Dad has been sick for some time. Elaine and I are sitting at the kitchen table right now at 6:50am, and for us this is all too surreal.

Everyone deals with death. Every family has their own dynamic in dealing with such things, and the Wikes are no exception. As is often true, Mom was the glue that held so much together. We children now have a job to do. As a pastor, I have walked many times through such situations with other families. I know the right things to say. I know the right passages of scripture to use. But I had never been in these shoes before. This situation will forever change my perspective on this ministry.

But this is not about me. This is about Mom. I have tried to be the glue … The middle child in me comes out, just like in mom. But soon I will be able to stop juggling all of the balls and just grieve. That that is natural and okay. And to Latha Janet Hooper Wike, whom I will always love, I take great confidence in knowing that I WILL see you on the other side. Until then, I will miss you terribly, Mom. I love you!!

Trying to Count it all Joy

28 Aug

I’ll be completely honest with you:  the devil is attacking.  Right now.  All around Ebenezer I see and hear signs of his work.  That tells me that he doesn’t like what is going on around here.  He stepped up his effort on the very day we voted to build a new worship center.  And he is attacking a variety of leaders in a variety of ways.

And, honestly, he didn’t leave me out of his fun.  But I read a Facebook post yesterday from a fellow pastor that has meant more to me, and enlightened me on something James wrote:  COUNT IT ALL JOY!!

James 1:2-4 says “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”  

God never promised that we would live life without problems… Without obstacles.  In fact, Paul reminded us in Ephesians 6 that the enemy WOULD INDEED ATTACK US.  That is why God gave us HIS ARMOR!!!  Now, James reminds us that even when we face hurt and disappointment, to COUNT IT ALL JOY!!  Because God will use it to strengthen us, our faith, and our dependance on Him.  So, even when we face attacks, temptations, problems, we need to learn to LEAN ON HIM and ask Him for strength, for wisdom, and for what we need to face the trial.  Because if we do not, WE ARE ALLOWING THE ENEMY TO WIN.  PERIOD!  And, when we DO ask Him for these things, He promises that He WILL PROVIDE.

So … it’s not always easy, but James is right!!  I need to count it all joy when I face these things!!  AND SO DO YOU!!  Praying for you today!!!