Thursday, May 31, 2007

For All You Cynics Out There...

Core: Just some evidence that not everyone in the world is a selfish jerk!

Remember Mr. Rogers? Well, I found this article today and it reminded me that no matter how much the media focuses on ax murderers, rotten politicions, wars and rumors of war that there are still individuals among us who God uses in special ways to bring blessings to a world so immersed in curses.

The link:

If you want to know more:

The Light of Love and Gratitude Even in the Valley!

Core Thought: Love is a light that darkness can not extinguish!

This week I have had some encounters with the power of love even in the valley of the shadow of death.

First, one of my church members lost her adult son in a tragic airplane accident last week. He was an experienced pilot, and it is believed that a freak "micro burst" caused the vintage biplane to crash. Yet, even in the shadow of such a tragic loss, God reminded this exceptional Christ follower's family and friends that in spite of grief and pain and loss, that his life was (and is) worth celebrating. There were so many, what I call "substantial" expressions of gratitude for his life and love and generosity and faith. A young man sang an original song at the graveside, and the line that caught my attention was simply, "thank you for living this way." I hope we all can have someone say on the day of our funeral, that they were grateful to God for whatever gifts we will leave behind in terms of our love and witness!

Just this evening I had yet another expression of love and gratitude in the deep, deep valley of grief. On Palm Sunday, the husband of one of my church's day care workers (and friend0 passed away after a tragic series of strokes that had left him almost completely unresponsive, and in a nursing home. He, too, was a remarkable Christ follower who loved his Lord and his family immensely. His family is very, very close, and they genuinely enjoyed their time together. He was in his late 50's and left way too soon for his family. Well, tonight I read his 17 year old son's and his wife's testimonies as to what they have experienced in this long journey through the valley. His son (one of three completely devoted children) talked about his father as his hero, and how painful it was to finally let him go, and how important it is to love the people in our lives while we have them.

I have been around this family for 20 years, and I knew that this youngest son is devastated in his loss, but very, VERY grateful that he had such a great father. The same is true of his wife's (and best friend) testimony...that of grief, yes, but also in gratitude for having been given such a wonderful friend in her husband of 30 years. It never ceases to amaze me at how powerful gratitude and love can be, even in the midst of such grief. Paul was SO right (and I'm sure the Holy Spirit will agree since He did the inspiring of these words!) when he proclaimed in 1 Cor. 13:7, 8 "It [love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." I believe these words...and this week, I've seen this truth in these two families. May we each give people a reason to thank and praise God because of the way we live!

By the way, have you thanked someone in your life for "living this way" lately? Maybe it's time!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

In Case You Forgot: God is Brilliant!!!!!

Did you know that the tallest living thing on earth is a coast redwood tree? (By the way, the largest living thing on earth is its cousin the Sequoia tree (some weighing more than 10 blue whales!?)?

The tallest tree found to date is 379 ft. About six to seven stories higher than the Statue of Liberty! I think it's really great that God can cram all the genetic information needed to grow such a magnificent tree in such a tiny little seed. My pianist ordered some seeds for me as a gift, and I am experimenting with laminating them on a special "Hey God is Smarter Than You Think" business card. If God can does such an amazing job with a tree, don't you think He's smart enough to trust?

If you want to know more about these amazing trees, here is the youtube link about when they found the tallest tree: and part 02 (which has more of the guy climbing this thing!):

For more info on Redwoods go here:

Memorial Day Should Not Be Mall Day!

Timothy Dexter (eccentric but successful businessman of the 1700's) once said, "An ungrateful man is like a hog under a tree eating acorns, but never looking up to see where they come from." This week I have felt like our media is being like that hog in its treatment of Memorial Day. Last night I was visiting someone in the Bamberg Hospital and saw a hand-drawn reminder on a small white board in the hall remind people to remember our war dead on Memorial Day. Oh, I have seen the holiday referred to many, many times this week on the television, but always in conjunction with a sale, or what you need for a picnic at the beach. Not once (of course, I have two days left before Monday) have I seen a reference to what this holiday is supposed to be about. So I'm doing my part to remind whoever stumbles on this blog before midnight Monday, that the only reason you are given the great privilege of being a freedom endowed American is that people (the vast majority whom you never knew) willingly gave their lives fighting to obtain and maintain our freedom. I took this picture last year in Marietta, GA, of the military cemetery there. Just a reminder that freedom is never free! Also, if you want to know more about the REAL vs. the RETAIL VERSION of Memorial Day, go here:

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Something Young People Need to Know!

Kids right out of college will be making a HUGE mistake if they waste those first 5 to 8 years buying stuff instead of saving. As I prepared my little talk for our graduates this past Sunday, I was doing some investment research and came up with this little scenario to encourage young people to save. WARNING: this may depress anyone over 40 with insufficient savings...

Take two brothers working for the same employer right out of high school. One is wise, one is not so wise, yet typical of most people with regards to saving.

The wise brother invests $2,000 a year (that's about $5.48 day; the cost of pretty much any meal deal at McDonald's!) beginning at age 19 in a 401K plan with his employer which nets a 10% return annually (the average yearly gain of the stock market). He does this for eight years and stops at 26 and leaves the money there till retirement.

His brother, instead of investing with his employer, gets in debt for a car, boat, etc. He wakes up at 26 and starts investing the same $2,000 a year with the same 401K plan with the same 10% return. He does this for the next 39 years!

At retirement:

The late bloomer, not-so-wise brother has: 1,016,830
The wise brother has 1,271,671

But the late investing brother put in $78,000 for his lesser amount.
The wise brother put in $16,000 for his greater amount...

See what a difference EIGHT YEARS makes. Albert Einstein said, "Compounded interest is the most powerful force in the universe."

Few people believe Social Security will survive for many more decades, and with medical advancements, young people will be living longer than ever after retirement, and if they don't start early, they could be facing decades of poverty. I was amazed at what a difference eight years can make. Ignoring those years of financial potential could be the most costly mistake they can make, so spread the word!!!

Oh, though they might be impressed with a McDonald's meal a day become a million dollars, just a 3% inflation rate will erode a million to less than 300,000 in 40 years...even more reason they need to start saving as soon as possible!

For more help goto:

Monday, May 21, 2007

A May Full of Special Days...

Yes, like most of you, I’ve been busy. I think all the funerals and special days and Easter and vacation all took a toll on this 50 year old preacher! I hope to get more regular at this posting thing. A lot has happened since I last posted. May has been a typically busy month of recognizing different groups of folks in the church. We’ve had Senior Adult Sunday first, and it was highlighted with a surprise 75th birthday party at the lunch for Jewel, one of most faithful (and hard-working) senior adults. It was great seeing her surprised by her kids and huge family!

Our Mother’s Day service featured a guest speaker from North Augusta, who, with her husband, have been foster parents to 54 babies waiting for adoption. Yesterday was Graduate Recognition Sunday, and it just so happened that a group of Denmark High School graduates from the class of 1957 were visiting as they were here for their 50th class reunion. I asked Jimmy Gibson, who grew up in Denmark, if he’d mind saying a few words to our four graduates, and he was very willing. That was a good thing in that two of the four graduates would have to listen to me later that day at their school’s baccalaureate.

One of the former graduates had his fully restored 1957 Chevy Bel-Air out front, so I thought it would be cool (as much as I can ever be “cool.”) to have my picture taken in it. This Sunday needs to be the “Whoever Has Already Been Recognized in May Recognition Sunday!” Still, I wonder what I can preach on to go with that? So that’s a little of what I’ve been up to!

What Kids Think of!

For my children’s sermon yesterday, on Graduate Recognition Sunday, I was brave and brought my yet-to-be-assembled Lego Star Wars Rebel Blockade Runner model. I’m sure the visitors were impressed with a pastor who was given a Lego set for a birthday. Maybe they thought it was given to me when I was a kid. It has over 1400 pieces, and my point was that the more we learn in school, the more we have to work with in life. I compared what little you could build with just a couple of blocks to what you can build with over 1400. As expected, the kids really liked it, and quickly a couple volunteered to put it together for me. I quickly countered by pointing to the age designation on the box….”sorry, but this kit says you have to be 14 years old or older to put it together.” So I continued, but little Darby kept his hand raised. Finally I gave in…”yes, Darby, what is it?” “Well, if Star Wars was PG-13, why is this Lego 14?” I deferred to answer that probing question after the service.