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Archive for November, 2008

It’s Christmas Season

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It is normal for our family to put up our Christmas Tree Saturday after Thanksgiving. This year was a special blessing to Nancy and me. I guess someone in our family is getting older than they would like to think they are, but I have discovered that some things are rare moments in time. This year, Nancy and I, Jason, his wife Jenn, Jeremy and Kimberly put the tree up together. Jason and Jenn live in Maryland and could schedule time with us this past Saturday. I will always treasure the moment where all six of us shared in a “memory” making event. Money cannot buy this kind of experience for an old man.

And Yes, Lacey was able to be a part of the festivities as well.100_0835

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Thanksgiving

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Back l/r: Jim, Jeremy, Jason Front: Kimberly, Nancy, Jenn

The only thing crying at our thanksgiving festivities was the two turkeys that hit the heat.  May God be praised for fried turkey.  The other one hit the barbecue pit.  We had enough food for the rest of Florence County.  Homemade sweets rounded off our need for a nap.

It was good to spend a few days with my mother, Rosalind, from Marietta, GA (for those who don’t know it is near the great state of Atlanta).  Betty and Doug Treadway, Nancy’s mother and her husband joined us for the meal as well.  We gathered with friends out on Hill Road – one of my favorite get away places.  Randy did an extraordinary job on the fixin’s and his wife Debbie (my wife’s best friend) put her special touch on it as well.  It is always a delight when we can get our children to be with us.  The older we get it seems that the more spread out we get – no pun intended.  Ashley lives in Michigan and works for DOW Chemical.  She flew in to share in few days with her family and to take in the Clemson Carolina game this weekend.  Jason and Jenn blessed Nancy and I with a trip down from Maryland.  They will spend a day or two with friends in Columbia, SC and will be back with us on Sunday.  Jeremy and Kimberly enjoyed four-wheelin’ and eating right along with the rest of us.  I am proud of our crowd.

I am thankful for many things.  God has blessed Nancy and me.

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Jenn, Jason, Rosalind, Betty, Doug

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Randy, Nancy, Rosalind, Jenn, Jason, Kimberly, Jeremy, Debbie, Ashley, Jim, Betty, Doug

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Come and See…

2293795221_04a0d286bb1Thanksgiving! Should happen every morning – especially every Sunday Morning. Just to think that God has allowed me to enter again into His presence. I hear the voices of the disciples asking Jesus where he lived. His response still calls out to me this morning as He told them “Come and see!” To be welcomed by the Savior again in His house is a beautiful experience.

In a few 2462693560_7b20f6f888minutes I will be preparing physically to go to the church house. My temptation on this day is to get so involved in the routines of leading worship that I fail sometimes to realize that I am in God’s house and I, too, have been invited by God to journey with him through the day and to celebrate His presence in my own life. To realize who I am in light of who HE IS moves things in the right direction. I walk in reminding myself that He is in command, and I am not. He is Lord and I want him to be in every aspect of my life. My family will gather with me, and I will rejoice in the presence of God.

Today I will witness again with my own eyes a group of Deacons in the church praying for people as they anoint them with oil. Folk will gather with needs, hurts, pains and wounds that are deep. Family that gathers looking into their own hearts to see if all is well in their relationships with each other. Friends who will spend sometime sharing in the pain and suffering of others will be at the altar this morning seeking God’s touch.

Going to Jesus’ house – the place where He dwells. My body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and He dwells or finds Himself at home in my life. Today a group of Christians will gather in the church house to celebrate the Lord’s presence through an experience we call the Lord’s Supper. This is a time of remembering. It will be for all of us a time of Celebration. We anticipate the return of our dear Savior.

Jesus, where do you live? Come and see.

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2321475471_9042bc9225 4Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy: “It takes more than bread to stay alive. It takes a steady stream of words from God’s mouth.”

The enemy leaves no one alone. Imagine trying to go after the very Son of God in the desert. Did Satan forget who he was messing with? He was dealing with a hungry, very hungry, God man. Sounds like to me, he was already eating from the bread of life for he quoted Deuteronomy quickly to the enemy. Maybe it is just me, but I like eating – a lot. I don’t like being hungry. His hunger drove him to the Word of God.

Two things have helped keep my own mind focused. One is a little 2G Mp3 player. Subscribing to Rhapsody has given me the chance to sync a lot of music to my player that feeds the quiet place in my own spirit. I have become a Chris Rice Fan, Annie Moses Band fan, and David Nevue fan. I keep it where ever I go. I have discovered that I have no trouble getting my mind to work. It travels a thousand miles per hour on whatever topics I feed it. I am a creative free thinker. Not much stimulus is required. The music focuses my thought energy in the right places.

pwSecond, has been a process of reading the Word and praying that is developed by Wayne Cordeiro. He pastors a church in Hawaii and has developed a simple process that allows me to read the Bible through each year, gives me a chance to interact with one verse each day, and seek to apply what I am observing about that verse to my own life each day. It is powerful. One can Google his name and find a lot about him. His book Divine Mentor is a powerful unfolding of this process. I was introduced to this book by a friend, and I will be forever thankful to him. I find it interesting that at the end of the day I have heard from God. He and I get to discuss my schedule, prayer requests, and His Word. I get to focus on it. I will admit to you that fasting for 40 days is a stretch to me. I have never done that. I have never actually done a lot of that kind of thing. However, I have been at this process since April and find it a valuable part of my own “desert experience and when the enemy comes to me to tempt me when I am starving at least I now have something to fight with.

Jesus said that it takes more than bread to stay alive…and then directed us to the only source of that life – The Word of God.

I am trying to learn. Thanks for journeying with me each day. By the way, today’s verses for reading were Matthew 1-4. My one verse for the day is listed above.

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2120127445_5c9468fc6b_m5-9Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don’t drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups. You need firsthand evidence, not mere hearsay, that Jesus Christ is in you. Test it out. If you fail the test, do something about it. I hope the test won’t show that we have failed. But if it comes to that, we’d rather the test showed our failure than yours. We’re rooting for the truth to win out in you. We couldn’t possibly do otherwise.

I woke this morning thinking of several families who struggle. I wish I could make all that go away. My wish to make life pain free would harm us rather than help. It has been a while, since I have been in the weight room lifting on the bench. I do remember Mark guiding me to prepare me for a major lift. We would take it in daily slow increments and would test the muscles each day to see if they were getting stronger. Now being a young man trapped in an aging body brings its own challenges, especially when one works out with “beasts” but hey, it was my choice. Testing my strength each day allowed me to make sure, I could reach my ultimate goal.

I do remember that following an especially rough day how my muscles hurt. They didn’t hurt that day, but they hurt the next day. I discovered that tearing muscle through lifting weights actually makes them stronger. The pain is necessary. Testing is absolutely necessary.

I will have to admit to God that I do not like the tests and would never ask for them. However, My Divine Coach in glory knows what is necessary to make my spirit man strong. I trust him today. You can trust a faith that has been tested. Fire has a way of burning off the dross of your life.

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Picture stolen from Travis Wright...

Picture stolen from Travis Wright...

2 Corinthians 6:14-18Don’t become partners with those who reject God. How can you make a partnership out of right and wrong? That’s not partnership; that’s war. Is light best friends with dark? Does Christ go strolling with the Devil? Do trust and mistrust hold hands? Who would think of setting up pagan idols in God’s holy Temple? But that is exactly what we are, each of us a temple in whom God lives. God himself put it this way:

“I’ll live in them, move into them;
I’ll be their God and they’ll be my people.
So leave the corruption and compromise;
leave it for good,” says God.
“Don’t link up with those who will pollute you.
I want you all for myself.
I’ll be a Father to you;
you’ll be sons and daughters to me.”
The Word of the Master, God.

Wow. I cannot tell you what it has been like to be a part of a fight to join a great group of people in our community to do our best to try and defeat liquor sales in our restaurants on Sunday. My hat is off to many faithful people who took the time to go vote “no”. 430 votes separated the two sides. I am thankful for a political system that allows us to get a vote. Thank God that we live in America. Thank God for a great number of people who stepped up to the plate and voted “no”.

However, I am also convinced of the mighty hand of the enemy who is at work. The darkness that rules the dark places is powerful and almost consuming. I had no idea that the political arena was captured by the dark heart. Greed and manipulation were two partners of hell that captured the hearts of all sorts of media gurus, men who long to place the almighty dollar against the lives of people. I have glimpsed into the heart of hell’s depths and walked away a different person. It is cold and chilly to be around people who long to see financial gratification as “choice” steals the lives and souls of precious people in our community.

I am reminded tonight as I visit this blog site again that the call on my heart is not to be primarily a political advocate. I hear the voices and promises of good men who long to make a difference in the process of our local government. I will watch as the system bark loud and long to see if it will deliver only for those who can work out the system. God never promised that government would be our savior. It should, however, stay the hand of evil and protect the people of our precious community. However, when you mix political desire with distilled unchecked “choice” you stumble back home in a drunken stupor with less than you started with.

I, too, am reminded that God is still in control. I am also reminded that those who lead will answer to One far greater than me. I am blown away at His mercy and his forgiveness of this old sinner. May he journey with those who have a God-given responsibility to lead in our government. I pray for them tonight.

I also find my own self called again to a place of repentance and a desire to honor God with my life. I am thankful that God’s hand is on my life, and that he has called me to be a part of the only thing that brings real change. We are not fighting against the “Yes” crowd. Our fight is much bigger than that. It is against the powers of hell who long to destroy the lives of our friends and the families in our community. Christ is the only answer. His power to change selfish men into compassionate people is real. His presence in your life still empowers you to make a difference in this world.

We are in a battle. The war was going long before I got on the scene. I got in when God let me in, and we can fight not because we need to win, but because we have won. We fight FROM victory and not FOR victory. Join me as we finish our part of the battle. We win because HE WON the battle. The enemy is defeated.

2 Corinthians 7:1 With promises like this to pull us on, dear friends, let’s make a clean break with everything that defiles or distracts us, both within and without. Let’s make our entire lives fit and holy temples for the worship of God.

1. A mighty fortress is our God,
a bulwark never failing;
our helper he amid the flood
of mortal ills prevaling.
For still our ancient foe
doth seek to work us woe;
his craft and power are great,
and armed with cruel hate,
on earth is not his equal.

2. Did we in our own strength confide,
our striving would be losing,
were not the right man on our side,
the man of God’s own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is he;
Lord Sabbaoth, his name,
from age to age the same,
and he must win the battle.

3. And though this world, with devils filled,
should threaten to undo us,
we will not fear, for God hath willed
his truth to triumph through us.
The Prince of Darkness grim,
we tremble not for him;
his rage we can endure,
for lo, his doom is sure;
one little word shall fell him.

4. That word above all earthly powers,
no thanks to them, abideth;
the Spirit and the gifts are ours,
thru him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go,
this mortal life also;
the body they may kill;
God’s truth abideth still;
his kingdom is forever.

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This morning I was reminded that God’s hand is on what I do.  My scripture focus for today was Job 18-19 and Galatians 1-2.  Galatians 1 struck me today…

My authority for writing to you does not come from any popular vote of the people, nor does it come through the appointment of some human higher-up. It comes directly from Jesus the Messiah and God the Father, who raised him from the dead. I’m God-commissioned. So I greet you with the great words, grace and peace! We know the meaning of those words because Jesus Christ rescued us from this evil world we’re in by offering himself as a sacrifice for our sins. God’s plan is that we all experience that rescue. Glory to God forever! Oh, yes!  “The Message”

Tuesday’s vote is finished. Wednesday life carries on. We must be about the business to which God called us. Real change in our community will never happen when we get the vote right. Real change happens when the hearts of men and women in this city long for God and follow Him as their God. I am so glad that I voted. I am glad that I took the time to express my own personal opinion at the poll in voting NO for the liquor referendum. I had a chance to vote for the presidential candidate that I felt held the best plan for the years ahead. I had a chance to voice my opinion on candidates for City Council and to support the efforts of our city. I am thankful for the ability to participate in the American process.

However, I am gripped by Another. I remember that I voluntarily gave my life to Jesus Christ. At that time I died to what I wanted and said “Yes” to Christ. I chose to let Christ rule in my life and for that I am reminded again that Christ is still Lord no matter what kind of vote happened in this great land. God is in control. I am not.

I awaken this morning with a new resolve that God has given us the answer to the world’s greatest needs. We must be about the business of telling people the good news and to share that hope with passion. May God be praised for his great love.

I am glad that we voted. I am glad that Tuesday is over. Wednesday is here and a new resolve to spend it changing the world by changing the hearts of people.

10 facts no matter who wins the Election

1. The Bible will still have all the answers.

2. Prayer will still work.

3. The Holy Spirit will still move.

4. God will still inhabit the praises of His people.

5. There will still be God-anointed preaching.

6. There will still be singing of praise to God.

7. God will still pour out blessings upon His people.

8. There will still be room at the Cross.

9. Jesus will still love you.

10. Jesus will still save the lost when they come to Him.

Oh, … and God approves this message!

ISN’T IT GREAT TO KNOW WHO IS REALLY IN CHARGE! AMEN!!!

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