Friday, December 28, 2007
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
As the memories of Christmas 2007 begin to fade...
I will never forget 2007. It was a year filled with firsts:
- My 50th birthday
- My 20th anniversary as a staff member
- My 15th anniversary as pastor
- My church's first "off-campus" revival at a local farm
- My church's first Chrismon tree
- My church's first collegiate World Changers team
- My first prayer at a ribbon cutting for a new grocery store
- My first dedication of a tree on Arbor Day for a friend
- My church's first Thanksgiving lunch for the community with other local churches
- My first attendance at an International Mission Board commissioning service in Richmond, VA., for Ricky and Niki Cook and family who are serving in Zambia for two years. Ricky and Niki were teenagers when I first arrived in Denmark.
On the sadder side:
- I officiated or assisted in eighteen funerals, a personal record.
- In March, my family had to say good-bye to Tom, our Golden Retriever (brother to my Dave), who brought us much joy in his too-short eleven years with us.
- The Thursday before Christmas I officiated at the funeral for a two and a half month old precious little girl named Samantha, whose parents, grandmother, aunt and uncle are all members of the church. It was very unexpected, sad, and overwhelming, but God was very faithful to the family and me as we got through this horrible week. It really put Christmas in perspective, reminding me that even in the original Christmas story (Matthew 2) there was death and tragedy with the slaughter of the innocents at Herod's command. The real message of Christmas - that the world is very dangerous, often unfair, and tragedy can occur at any minute, BUT it was into this mess that God entered in through Christ to BE WITH US. That truth has never been driven home to me as vividly as it has this week.
It's all about having a more spiritual (and biblical) Christmas. Did you know that it is estimated that this year we will spend 480 BILLION on Christmas retail shopping; three billion on our pets' presents alone! Over a thousand churches are attempting to reign in our tendency to "over-participate" in the consumerism of Christmas by joining the "advent conspiracy" this year. Their approach is simple: WORSHIP MORE, SPEND LESS, GIVE MORE (in relational gifts to those you know and more money to the poor in the money you save from shopping less), and LOVE ALL. I have found their approach innovative, challenging, and even a bit uncomfortable. Then again, that first Christmas was anything but comfortable for anyone, yet in it the greatest gift given to man was being born.
Go to my blog: www.andyfbcdenmark.blogspot.com for more updates (oops, you're already at my blog aren't you!?), though, at times, they may be slow in coming! Sorry this is so late, but that's typical, isn't it! Happy Christ's Birthday and Happy New Year!
Back to my blog: Thank you all for your patience. I do hope and pray you all have a significant 2008.
Friday, December 14, 2007
The starbursts on the cross and on the top of the tree were added by using the FREE program, GIMP, which is a pretty extensive photo editting software package that can be downloaded at:
Consider it an early Christmas present!
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
[AC] Advent Conspiracy from Jon Collins on Vimeo.
The idea of the advent conspiracy is intriguing and I can't help but think that Christ would appreciate this approach much more than the prevailing one in our culture. You know, that Christmas is essential to our nation's economy and that this economic reality is the real "reason for the season"...at least in their eyes.
It still amazes me that last year Americans spent over 450 BILLION (that's right...BILLION) dollars on retail purchases during November and December...3 billion of that was on Christmas gifts for pets!
So much of this money was put on credit cards....going into debt just so a child can have a PlayStation 3?? What does that teach that child...that it's OK to enter into the unnecessary bondage of debt just to satisfy your immediate need for gratification?
Surely there is a better way to celebrate the birth of the Christ Child. The advent conspiracy is a start. If you want to know more, go to: www.adventconspiracy.org
Sunday, December 02, 2007
If you do watch it, pay attention to the villainous (though misunderstood) food critic Anton Ego. He's not just some mean-spirited cynic, but someone with a damaged heart that needs help (maybe even a good helping of Ratatouille!). Remy, the rat who longs to cook, is a great hero. Though his father wants to relegate him with his wonderful gift of smell to poison-detector for the clan, Remy's dreams refuse to die and he ends up in a famous Parisian restaurant that is languishing, needing a new spark.
The message is simple. Don't settle for mediocrity; don't let your passions die. It reminded me of how easy it is to go through life, or the Christmas season, without passion. We, like the rats (except Remy), too easily settle for garbage (like a life of sameness with no growth) when God has provided a feast of opportunities every day to grow and to impact others for good. Before I ramble on and on (and it is Sunday morning and time to get ready for church!), let me point you to Christianity Today's review of the film....a much better one than mine!
If you have seen the previews, this fantasy "epic" is going to be very, very appealing to children, so the question is, how should Christians respond to this film? One of the best thought-out responses I've read is by Jeffrey Overstreet writing for Christianity Today. Here is his response...hope it helps!
Friday, November 23, 2007
Tuesday night, our Royal Ambassadors (plus, for the first time ever...two of our Girls in Action) competed in our annual RA Race for Meals on Wheels.
It was a fierce and fun (mostly fun) evening of racing, laughter and anticipation. The real winner was our Meals on Wheels program! Grace Hardy opened the race with Charles Barnes, our RA leader. Grace was instrumental in starting the Denmark Meals on Wheels years ago, and has only been home a couple of weeks after two months of recuperation from cancer surgery (and treatments) in Charleston. It was a great boost to see her attend. Don't tell her I told you so, but she'll turn 90 next year!
Sixteen children with their little wooden cars, the help of their parents, teachers and sponsors earned $5,700.68..a new record!
It takes around $750 to feed one person for the year. I know that those new Meals on Wheels recipients will be thankful for an added reason in 2008, and for our fantastic young race drivers! (Don't forget: you can click on pictures to enlarge them!)
The kitchen was filled with laughing, thankful, happy people, showing their gratitude by sharing with others...that's the kind of thanksgiving our Lord loves! Over 250 meals were served! I pray that this kind of generosity will permeate our advent season, too.
By the way, when was the last time you met an unhappy generous person, or a really happy stingy one??
Oh, and one more thing....I'm thankful for all my blog readers, too! Don't forget to make some comments!!!!
Friday, November 16, 2007
Stuck in the back of our Baptist Hymnal is this thanksgiving hymn. It's melody is not peppy or particularly celebratory. It is a hymn you might be tempted to overlook if you favor a more contemporary flavor to your praise music. Afterall, what does a hymn written in Germany in the early 1600's have to say to us now? First, here are the lyrics, THEN comes the story behind the hymn...
Now Thank We All Our God Lyrics:
Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.
O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and blessèd peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed;
And free us from all ills, in this world and the next!
All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given;
The Son and Him Who reigns with Them in highest Heaven;
The one eternal God, Whom earth and Heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.
At first glance, it sounds like a "nice" poem of thanks. It is, however, much more than that. To me, it's more of an expression of a life perspective I want, particularly as a minister. The author, Martin Rinkart, was a pastor in the town of Eilenburg. His timing for entering the ministry could not have been worse. He began his minstry around 1617, when the Thirty Year War was beginning. (See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thirty_Year_War)
I'm often tempted to complain about all I have to do. This year I have participated in more funerals (17) than any other year of my ministry. God is good at providing opportunities to humble me when I need it, and the story of Martin Rinkart does that. His town suffered during this horrible time of war (a lot of which was fueled by religious conflict between the Protestants and the Catholics), millions in Germany died...as did many of Rinkarts' fellow citizens, including ALL of the other clergy in the town. In 1637, when the plague was added to the death caused by war and famine, he conducted over 4,000 funerals, up to 50 a day, including the funeral of his wife. Later he would write this hymn as a poem for his children.
That he could survive his ministry of suffering and heartache which a perspective of faith and gratitude is nothing short of the miracle of God’s grace. So don’t dismiss old hymns too quickly. They just might rekindle your hope and gratitude in the midst of struggle. Someone once said, that “The pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts … nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving.” For more on Rinkart go to: https://www.songsandhymns.org/people/detail/martin-rinkart
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Want to make your own church sign? You can right now! Go to:
Want to read real ones? Go here:
Want to generate your own tombstone? Go here:
Friday, November 09, 2007
What qualifies as an "F" charity? One which gives less than 35% of collected funds to actual programs. Read the full story here:
Does this mean you shouldn't give? Of course not! Just give wisely. Here is the website that rates charitable organizations: http://www.charitywatch.org/
Here is a great article on how to determine whether or not to give including a charity checklist:
Remember, in the past two years just under 500,000,000.00 did NOT go to deserving veterans just because good-hearted donors did not check out a charity. And that's just for veterans; the same thing is occurring in other types of charities as well.
Also, Christians need to be just as careful when giving to Christian ministries. The EVANGELICAL COUNCIL FOR FINANCIAL ACCOUNTABILITY is one way you can be more sure about the integrity of a ministry. Look for this logo at websites for added security in your giving. Detailed information can be found at: http://www.ecfa.org/Default.aspx
WARNING: Don't get cynical, get smart. Give generously to those who really need it, just make sure whoever you are giving your money to is giving it to the needy!
Monday, November 05, 2007
So don't forget to take time out of your busy schedule to follow the otters' example and to fulfill 1 Peter 4:8,9: Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.
After that came stories about the danger we face eating frozen pizza with e.coli, children at risk in daycares with no insurance, the continuing drought threatening Atlanta, and coverage of the worst auto accident of the day, always with pictures! It would be easy to say the station is totally at fault, but why do they show an obviously unbalanced collection of sad, tragic, and/or fear filled stories? Why do the 20/20 type shows so often show tales of murder, deception or violence? Could it be that they are giving the public what we want? After all, how many of us slow down when we pass an accident? How many of us pass on tragic news more quickly than good news? Why is it so much easier to whine and complain about things instead of trying to make things better?
My point? PLEASE generate some good, uplifting news this week! When was the last time you gossiped about something good someone has done? When was the last time you tried to make the world a better place for someone? For some inspiration, click on this video of a foreign Honda commercial about HATE! The objects of hate are old, noisy diesel engines, which are creatively removed from the story as it progresses, only to be replaced by a better idea! The animation is great, and the song is to the point, catchy, and hopefully will inspire you to hate in a more productive way.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
The plot centers on Louis' attempt to build a memory scanner so he can unlock deep memories of his birth mom. He is a scientific genius at 12, and therefore has not been adopted since he's a little too "special" for most people. He is visited by a strange teen-ager from the future, Wilbur, who insists some evil guy is after him and his memory scanner. Louis then becomes obsessed with using Wilbur's time machine to go and meet his birth mom, but Wilbur is obsessed with getting Louis to the science fair with his scanner. The whole struggle is that one kid wants to go back because he "thinks" he can fix something, but the other kid, from the future, has something Louis doesn't have...the truth...and he knows Louis future is dependent on something (the science fair) that Louis in his ignorance thinks is unimportant. Yep...it all reminded me how often we ignore God's truth and embrace our own ignorance.
I can't tell you how many people I've met who are "stuck" in the past in regret, or bitterness, and their lives are paralyzed. The statement that kept being repeated throughout this story is "keep moving forward," sort of like what Paul writes in Philippians 3:12-14. At the end of the movie, Louis has to make the decision whether to meet his birth mother or embrace the future. All in all, it was a great message, even though you have to wade through a fair amount of silly stuff to get to it. Here is the video of one of the best songs in the soundtrack that sums up the movie's message....
For more of Nick, go to http://lifewithoutlimbs.org/ and http://www.youtube.com/ and search for Nick Vujicic.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Well, now our kids can learn at an even younger age how to amass huge quantities of debt with ELECTRONIC Monopoly, complete with its own credit/money card swiper! OH, and yhou start off with a balance of 15,000,000 bucks...great for a generation that all too often feels like its parents owe them a new sports car at 15! If you want to see it yourself goto: http://www.hasbro.com/games/kid-games/monopoly/.
We may be the last generation that will even be able to count and make change, not to mention the implications this has for the fulfillment of Revelation 13:16-18: He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name. This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man's number. His number is 666..
Pray for them as they begin their 40/40 experience today when they will spend the next month getting to know the people of Zambia. Part of the time they'll spend at the seminary in Lusaka, in tents out in the bush, and with a Zambian family. It should be quite the eye-opening experience!
What he is talking about is Ephesians 4:15-16 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
We can choose in a meeting to be honest in love (that is the best interest of the person) by discussing the merits of an idea or an issue, or we can be selfish (not wanting to experience the momentary awkwardness of confrontation/conflict) under the guise of "not hurting their feelings" and wait until we're "safe" with others who agree with us as we talk about them behind their back, assessing not simply their ideas, but in some cases, attacking their character. So we end up not hurting their feelings in the meeting, but hurting them in the long run and by being deceptive at the same time.
Need some more challenge? Goto: http://www.catalystspace.com/content/podcast/download.aspx
For more of Patrick Lencioni, just search www.youtube.com
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
They will manage the "missionary house" in Lusaka where missionaries will come for rest, conferences, meetings, etc. Ricky and Niki will also have weekly opportunities to be part of the local missionary teams in a variety of ministry and outreach opportunities.
Right now, just pray for their safe arrival and their safe and successful completion of their month-long orientation. Pray also for both their families who had to say good-bye last night, and for their pastor as he seeks to minister to them!
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Monday, October 08, 2007
Here are some pics that don't do the conference justice. I sat in the "horn" section on Friday. We were all given horns to join a Guiness Book of World Records for largest symphony! Last year they had the world's largest pillow fight (you can see it on youtube).
The camel was given to John Maxwell, Christian leadership author for a lifetime achievement recognition. Two years ago they gave Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-A, a cow. It was an unexpectedly "cool" moment!
“If Jesus had a church in Simi Valley, mine would be bigger. People would leave his church to attend mine because I call for an easier commitment.”
Francis Chan(Pastor of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, CA)
I learned that the purpose of influence is to speak up for those who have no influence. - Rick Warren
Most of the time, the church is known for what it’s against and I intend to change that. I want the church to be known for what it is for. - Rick Warren
A practical atheist is one who believes God exists but behaves as though he does not. As pastors, sometimes we believe God exists but we do ministry as though he does not. - Craig Groeshchel
“It’s not so much about what I need to do in leading my church, it’s more about who I need to be.” Francis Chan
http://www.catalystspace.com/catablog/?m=200710 (October 4th - 8th)
For video clips of past conferences goto:
- Getting re-acquainted with the Trail boys (always enjoyable).
- Spending time catching up with Kittie and Randy, who were nice enough to take a day off to show me some of the sights, including a tour of the oldest plantation (Shirley) in Virginia.
- Getting up early Saturday to take pictures of Patrick and Thomas' soccer match
- Helping Ben find a bargain laptop after his was stolen at school
- Going to church and seeing my first stain glass rooster
- Touring the IMB (International Mission Board) where Randy and Kittie serve as candidate consultants...the rotating stone globe fountain was cool.
- Having lunch with a college buddy, Rick, from Clemson days, who I haven't seen in many, many years (He is the best guitar player I know.).
And then there was my time at the ILC of the IMB of the SBC! (That's the International Learning Center of the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention)
My other reason for going to Virginia, was to see Ricky and Niki Cook as they finish up their orientation before heading to Zambia for a two year term as missionaries along with their kids Austin, Coby and Kelsey (who endured a broken wrist while there). I was able to be at their commissioning service which was a great bonus. I have known them since they were teen-agers and am very proud of their commitment to the Lord and their willingness to serve Him in Africa.
While there, I not only toured the ILC, but got to be a part of the school's open house which showcased projects the Cook kids have worked on for two months. I also sat in on the parent's conference which was pretty interesting in terms of how to be supportive of first-timers as they prepare to leave the U.S.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Here are the lyrics...pretty simple...pretty "cool." Go ahead...pray it...mean it....see what happens!
Be with You
by Ray Watson
I don't want to do my own thing today
I don't want to do what I want to do
I want to follow Your path today
I want to be with You Lord
I want to walk with You Lord
I don't want to change gold into brass today
No no no no no no
I don't want to build with hay
No no no no no no
I want to be a servant of the Most High today
"Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee
In whose heart is found the highways to Zion"
Want to fly away in Your presence Lord
Want to be in Your presence today (Be with You)
Want to walk with You today (Be with You)
Sunday, September 16, 2007
One came on Friday night during our Concert of Prayer for revival. I had several "self-paced" interactive stations focusing on praise, confession, the Lord's Supper and intercession. It moved me to see a line to sign the Praise Book...hard to explain, but seeing people waiting to write simple declarations of their praise for God moved me.
A team of seven great college students from Charleston Southern University joined us Saturday to lead in worship and in ministering to our children. They were talented, flexible, enthusiastic, and they loved the Lord. The same was true of the Free Gift Baptist Church Choir who were joined by their pastor, Rev. Andrew Cooper, who brought the last message of the day.
The other unexpected gift was the sight of prayer groups Saturday afternoon made up of five or six people of different churches, different ages, etc...praying for revival. Have our prayers been answered? Time will tell. All I can say is that God provided several unexpected moments over the past week and weekend that gave me opportunities to rejoice in, confess in, and to grow in. Some felt great, some didn't...but I am thankful that I don't have to figure it all out today (maybe never on this planet). God isn't through me, and I can always experience more of Him and of the life Christ died to give me.
Our youth were in full force Saturday, and we were glad they were!
Thursday, September 13, 2007
As a cautionary pizza-related tale, be careful about making impulse decisions, the consequences can be immense. Case in point: poor, shortsighted James Monaghan, who in 1960, founded Domino's Pizza with his brother, Tom. Eight months later James traded his half of the business to brother Tom for a USED Volkswagen Beetle. In 2006, Tom sold his part of the company for just under one BILLION....that's right...BILLION dollars! I wonder if he gave James a new Volkswagen???? Ouch!
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
In less than 30 minutes as I type this, it will be exactly six years since the first terrorist hijacked airplane crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. 3,000 would die that day. I'm watching a documentary on the History Channel depicting the events of 9/11 including the day before. It's still chilling and hard to believe. Here is a photo of all the victims except 92. Just a reminder that even though the nation has moved on (though forever changed), we will still need to remember and pray for the families and friends who lost loved ones in the disaster.
Sunday, September 09, 2007
Saturday, September 08, 2007
He had a knack, a powerful knack, at cutting through a lot of fog to give a clear assessment at what's wrong with many a church (and many a Christian, too). A friend loaned me a little booklet entitled Paths to Power which basically says without obedience, all our talk about faith is just talk, and that the Holy Spirit won't do a thing if we are blatantly, consistently disobedient.
Just do the next thing you know you should do to carry out the will of the Lord. If there is sin in your life, quit it instantly. Put away lying, gossiping, dishonesty, or whatever your sin may be. Forsake worldly pleasures, extravagance in spending, and vanity in dress, in your car, in your home. Get right with any person you may have wronged. Forgive everyone who may have wronged you. Begin to use your money to help the poor and advance the cause of Christ. Take up the Cross and live sacrificially. Pray, attend the Lord's services. Witness for Christ, not only when it is convenient but when you know you should. Look to no cost and fear no consequences. Study the Bible to learn the will of God and then do His will as you understand it. Start now by doing the next thing, and then go on from there.
Tozer wouldn’t say these are works in addition to faith; he’d say this is what true faith is, a trust in God that results in continuing obedience. He would remind us that James is clear when he writes, "In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead."(2:17)
Can anyone watching you, and listening to you, figure out that you really have faith in Christ? Do you want to obey God more and more? Is you life characterized by a faith-initiated, truth-enlightened, Spirit-empowered obedience that is transforming you into someone who does life more and more like Jesus Christ and less and less like the world?
If you want to have a daily dose of Tozer, go to: