Family First

One reason for Donna and I moving closer to home was to be available to take care of our parents.  This picture is the view from my mother's hospital window where she has been for the last week.. Many friends are praying and God is proving His faithfulness more every day. Thank You God for the opportunity to take care of the ones who have taken care of me.

Lamentations 3:22-23 NLT

The faithful love of the lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.


My Monday Morning Preaching Hangover of Discouragment

First off, I love what I do!  The fact that God has allowed me to represent Him to others is mighty humbling. Yesterday was a tremendous day for our church! In the morning service I had the privilege of leading my first deacon ordination service and in the evening I watched in amazement as two missionaries shared how our church is impacting our world. I am elated that God worked in such a special way.  He seems to be doing a lot of that lately. With everything that went right, why would there be any cause for discouragment?

The fact is, I can focus on the few little things that went wrong over the many things that went right.  The good thing is, it drives me to shore up all the areas of my life and ministry. The bad thing is losing the blessing of what God is presently doing.  The Bottom Line is after a week of ministry and being concerned for my mother who is in the hospital, my spiritual tank is running low.  Monday mornings seem to be the worst for me. I am reminded of Elijah who does a great work for God yet finds himself hiding in a cave shortly there after [1 Kings 18-19].  I am certainly NOT Elijah but I can identify with the highs and lows of ministry. There is a euphoria that occurs when anyone gets to experience God's Holy Spirit at work in, around and through them.  It is a feeling to which no substance or relationship can compare.  However, as with any mountain top experience, at some point we must go back down in the valley. This is where we grow.

I Love When God Uses My Own Words Against Me :)

This morning was one of those "hangover" moments where I really wanted to have a pity party.  I wanted to wear the badge of discouragement for all to see.  It's funny how sometimes we think we are entitled to happiness all the time.  Jesus made it clear we are entitled to nothing.  God reminded me of what I have told people for years.  When you are feeling overwhelmed and discouraged, pick up a bible, look in the back for topics you are dealing with and read the verses referenced there.  God reminded me of a few things this morning:

1)  In times of discouragement it is important to keep your FAITH.
  • [Exodus 9:1] “Go back to Pharaoh,” the Lord commanded Moses. “Tell him, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, says: Let my people go, so they can worship me.

2)  When The Moment Discouragement Shows Itself, PRAY!
  • [1 Samuel 1:10] Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord.

3)  Do Not Let OTHERS Discourage You! [I preached this a few weeks ago]
  • [Nehemiah 4:1-4] Sanballat was very angry when he learned that we were rebuilding the wall. He flew into a rage and mocked the Jews, 2 saying in front of his friends and the Samarian army officers, “What does this bunch of poor, feeble Jews think they’re doing? Do they think they can build the wall in a single day by just offering a few sacrifices? Do they actually think they can make something of stones from a rubbish heap—and charred ones at that?” 3 Tobiah the Ammonite, who was standing beside him, remarked, “That stone wall would collapse if even a fox walked along the top of it!” 4 Then I prayed, “Hear us, our God, for we are being mocked. May their scoffing fall back on their own heads, and may they themselves become captives in a foreign land!
4)  Make Discouragement Drive You Back To God's PURPOSE!
  • [Nehemiah 4:10-14] 10 Then the people of Judah began to complain, “The workers are getting tired, and there is so much rubble to be moved. We will never be able to build the wall by ourselves.” 11 Meanwhile, our enemies were saying, “Before they know what’s happening, we will swoop down on them and kill them and end their work.” 12 The Jews who lived near the enemy came and told us again and again, “They will come from all directions and attack us!” 13 So I placed armed guards behind the lowest parts of the wall in the exposed areas. I stationed the people to stand guard by families, armed with swords, spears, and bows. 14 Then as I looked over the situation, I called together the nobles and the rest of the people and said to them, “Don’t be afraid of the enemy! Remember the Lord, who is great and glorious, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes!”
5)  Turn Discouragement Into OPPORTUNITY!
  • [Philippians 1:12-14] 12 And I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. 13 For everyone here, including the whole palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ. 14 And because of my imprisonment, most of the believers here have gained confidence and boldly speak God’s message without fear.
Thank you for taking a few minutes to read this article.  I pray that if and when you face discouragement that this post may help you.  The great thing about discouragement is that it only comes for a season.  Everytime we interject God's word into our lives, it has a way of realigning us to His will.  God's Word has been the aspirin for this Pastor's monday morning hangover, I pray if you are discouraged you may do the same.


Preparing For My New Vision Family Reunion

New Vision - 1992
It has begun!  I have dusted off my 5-String Bass Guitar, cranked up the amp to eleven and started the process of charting out songs for our Charleston Southern University - New Vision Reunion. New Vision was an ensemble that played over 100 concerts a year for churches, youth rallies, prisons, rotary club meetings, and Walmart Grand Openings (Ok, Kidding On That One).  At one point, we had been in just about every church in SC and NC. (Not literally but it felt like it).

Our Director, Dr. Rick Brewer (@rickbrewer) valiantly led us not only as a group but pastor and friend. Hard to believe it has been twenty-two years since we performed together. We shared many hours, miles, hardships, blessings and close calls together in a 15 passenger van and cargo trailer.  I am forever grateful for my New Vision family. (Those before and after me). Those years shaped me into who I am today and gave me friends for a lifetime. I look forward to seeing them again in October.

New Vision Van
First song on deck was "You'll Still Be Lord of All" by Truth.  Man those songs became just as special to me as those I played them with. Next, I will continue to brush off the cobwebs, stretch the fingers and try to find the bass player I once was :) Next on deck is "There Is A Hope" by Truth.

Also, a big shout out to Mark Childers (@bassmmmbass) who played bass for Truth and is currently playing with Carrie Underwood. I am grateful to have had the privilege of meeting you and trying to woefully replicate your lines on many of our songs. You Rock!