Wednesday, December 31, 2008

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Don't Blink! It'll Fly By!

This will be hard to believe, but here is a picture of me and my friend Randy Trail from our seminary days a mere twenty-SIX and a half years ago. I'm the one on the left! Yes, the skinny one! (Well, I guess we were both skinny!...NOT ANY MORE!)Randy, wife, Kittie, and their three sons, Ben, Patrick and Thomas stopped by to see "Uncle Andy" this past Monday for a day. As expected, it was great to see them. I drug out these same jackets (neither of which I can squeeze into!) for the fun of it. I'm envious that Thomas (L) and Patrick (R) could button them!

What else did I think? You probably know already...MAN, I'M GETTING OLD, AND FAST!!! Where did all the time go? I knew these boys' parents before they were parents, before they were married! I've kept in contact with this family as they have ministered as missionaries to Rwanda, Mauritius and Botswana. I've spent vacations with them when they were on furlough (including Disney World), and traveled to the other side of the planet to Mauritius. And now, suddenly, Ben, their oldest, is ready to graduate from college, Patrick is a freshman at Virginia Tech, and Thomas graduates high school ZOOM, ZOOM, ZOOM...another year, another decade flies by!

The moral? Life comes at your fast, PAY ATTENTION!!! As the psalmist reminds us in Psalm 39:4,5: "Show me, O LORD, my life's end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man's life is but a breath. Selah"

Don't overlook that SELAH...many commentators think the Hebrew word (which appears over 70 times in the psalms) means to weigh heavily that which has been other words, to pay careful attention to God's that is my wish for you all...that 2009 will a year in which you pay careful, consistent attention to God and what He says. No matter what circumstances we might face in the year ahead, we can count on God to be faithful and true, and worth paying attention to above all!!!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Pray for These Kids!

Okay, I've had a pretty significant Christmas in a number of ways, so allow me a semi-Scrooge moment. I came across this video of kids' reactions to receiving a Ninetendo Wii for Christmas. We need to pray for them in that certain depression and despair await them all when their Wii's die, get out-of-date, suffer lightning strikes, etc. Then what will they do? Have any of you EVER been this excited about anything? WARNING: the first scream may catch you off guard. Also, if you watch the whole thing, you have way too much time on your hands!

A Special Baptism

I just talked with my friends in Zambia (Their website is linked in my links section), the Cooks and the Abstances (Jan and Wyman are visiting for Christmas.). They had a memorable holiday, and this video has to be the highlight! Their daughter Kelsey recently accepted Christ, and here is her baptism!

For The Cat Who Has Everything!

I've read mediocre reviews of the Roomba robot vacuum, but, then again, that with reference to its cleaning ability. As a "cat-mover" it seems to excel. If you have a lazy cat, this might be the perfect gift! I'm impressed that he turned it on himself! I'm impressed also in his sticking with his ride even when it bumps into something.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The FBC Staff Celebrating Christmas at the Disco!

If only we were young enough to move like this! Isn't Christmas a great time to celebrate?
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The Staff Does Christmas - Country Style

Another Christmas wish from those dancing elves at First Baptist Church!
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Staff Christmas Wish - Charleston Style!

Okay, I admit it. This Elf Yourself business is addictive! Here is my staff's attempt at the Charleston! Merry Christmas!

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Christmas in Zambia

HAPPY CHRIST'S BIRTHDAY EVERYONE. My friends, Jan and Wyman Abstance are having what will surely be one of their most unforgettable Christmases ever as they are in Lusaka, Zambia visiting their daughter, Niki, son-in-law Ricky, and three kids, Austin, Coby, and Kelsey. I had asked them to do a short video for our Christmas Eve service (Ricky and Niki grew up in our church) reading the Luke Christmas story. It surprised my folks at the service (which went very well), and I thought I'd share it with you! So here are the Cooks and Abstances in Zambia!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Glory to God, Peace on Earth, and Good Will on Display NOW in You and in Me!

This lady's name is Ora Lee. She passed away this past Wednesday (12/10). She has been a member of my church since way before I came here over two decades ago. This is not a good picture of her... it was difficult to get a decent picture as she was camera shy. She was quiet, humble, and an amazing servant of our Lord.

The past week and a half has been filled with an unusually challenging number of situations, including some very serious medical situations among my members. I found it strange that one of the most joyful conversations I had last week was with someone who would pass away just two days later.

As I thought about Ora Lee's funeral service, I couldn't help but be drawn to the classic Biblical passage in Luke 2 where the angels confront a group of extraordinarily surprised shepherds with the great news that a Savior had been born to them (and us) in the town of Bethlehem.

I decided to use this experience in my church newsletter article last week. As you read it, it might be worthwhile to ponder the thought, "could my pastor use my life as an illustration of glory to God, peace on Earth, and good will toward man?" I hope so. If not, there's still time! Here is the article!

Reading About It Is One Thing, Seeing It Happen Is Even Better. You’ve read it again and again, in Luke 2 how the angels sang to the shepherds,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men!” (Luke 2:14) God made this wonderful truth so vivid to me this past Monday as I visited with Ora Lee Davis in the hospital. It was the first time since she had been sick that I got to visit her alone, so we could really “talk.” My conversation with her that afternoon will always be a treasure to me. When I asked her, how she felt when the doctors told her how “bad” her cancer was, she replied, “You know, I didn’t mind too much.” That is so typical of Ora Lee’s faith. Who else could face cancer squarely in the face and say that? I’ll tell you who…someone who truly takes Christ at His word.

Little did I know that just a few hours later that same day, I would get a call that she was not doing well, and might not make it through the night. Ora Lee was healed Wednesday morning as her Savior, the Great Physician came and took her home to be with Him. In the days leading up to her passing, I had no doubts that she was a woman at complete peace. She had expressed to me and the family several times lately how grateful she has been for her life, and that she was ready to leave whenever the Lord decided it was time.

Tuesday as I pondered Christmas, it hit me that Ora Lee’s simple devotion to Christ reflects the wonder of the angels’ song to the shepherds. Here is a lady whose life has been at peace with God (and others) through Christ. Her life also radiated good will toward anyone in her presence, and brought glory to God. Her life reminds me of one of my favorite Christmas songs:

Let There Be Peace on Earth and let it begin with me.
Let There Be Peace on Earth, the peace that was meant to be!

Ora Lee’s life is an example of how God wants to bless people with our lives! How would people describe your life behind your back? Do you display to others (especially at Christmas) a life at peace, filled with good will, intent on bringing glory to God? A life that reflects these central truths is the best life there is, and I praise God it’s available to me and to you every day because a Baby grew to become our Savior on a cross, and rose from the dead to be our Lord! I know this kind of life works, because I’ve read about it in God’s word, and I’ve seen it in the lives of special people like Ora Lee Davis.

Maybe the best thing you can give Jesus this year for His birthday, is your surrender and willingness to truly follow Him as Lord into a life of peace, good will and glory to God! It can happen! Right now! Maybe then someone will be using you as illustration to others about how great life can be! my wish for each of us is that we can sing this and mean it…Let there be peace on earth and let it start with me! So celebrate Jesus’ birth as you go and give gifts of peace, good will and glory to the Him!<

Monday, December 08, 2008

Dealing With Anger - Constructively

PLEASE NOTE I AM NOT TARGETING ANYONE SPECIFICALLY IN THIS POST. Lots of people struggle with anger! Problems with anger continue to be a recurring struggle for many people whom I have met throughout my ministry. The Bible is clear and simple with regards to anger: "In your anger do not sin..." (Ephesians 4:26a) In a nutshell, Scripture teaches that anger is inevitable in our lives (and sometimes it can even be employed for good: i.e. getting "angry" at injustice, poverty, etc.), but it is no excuse to sin.

One of my favorite quotes on the subject is from Frederick Buechner: Of the Seven Deadly Sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back -- in many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you.

I stumbled on this article that offered some great counsel on dealing with your anger (not that I agree with everything in the article)...especially with regards to "cognitive restructuring." If you have a problem with anger or know someone who does, check it out at:

Repost From Last Year

This video from "Go Fish" about Christmas is still worth watching every Christmas. It's entitled "It's About the Cross." If the Baby hadn't grown up to become our Savior, what would the Christmas story ultimate mean? Just another "holiday" tradition...for Christ-followers, it's the "whole" story of redemption that we celebrate! Speaking of celebrating...can people tell by looking at you, listening to you, and seeing what you do that you are celebrating your redemption? Hope so... it's still the #1 gift people need!

2008 - Andy's Year in Review

If you'd like to see some highlights of 2008 in the life of a country parson, click this link (once you are "transferred" wait a second and arrows will appear on either side of the picture and you can click to go forward or backward, OR click on "Slide Show" in the upper right corner for an automatic slide show):

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Clemson's New Coach - Strange Name - Great Story

My alma mater, Clemson University, hired a former assistant coach, Dabo Swinney, this week at the head coach, replacing Tommy Bowden who left mid-season. When he took over, it looked like a long-shot, but he led the Tigers to a 7-5 season and an invite to the Gator Bowl, not to mention a "very" satisfying 31-14 victory over the Gamecocks this past weekend. What I'm "thankful" for is the type of person Coach Swinney is.

A church member sent me this link ( which gives a lot of detail about his journey, and the struggles he overcame as a young person. It also shows how much he has helped his family overcome their own struggles in ways that display enourmous grace, love and forgiveness. He is a man of faith, and his faith appears to be something that he doesn't just talk about, but lives by. I get the feeling that he cares about a lot more than just winning ball games (though all Clemson alums are for that), and that's the kind of coach I who has something to teach people who aren't even on his football team. Check out the link above to see what I mean. You can also click here to see a video of Dabo's accepting of the head coach position this past Monday (Dec. 1st). GO TIGERS!

Video Link:

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A Cautionary Tale About Greed

A friend sent me this clip which brilliantly illustrates the truth of 1 Timothy 6:9-10:People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. It's called, "The Black Hole."

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


I was going through my photos from this past year, and came across this one of Max who was adopted by some great friends of mine. I went to meet the family's newest addition, and, as expected, took a lot of pictures. Max didn't seem to mind. I thought this one was the best. So this is what I do instead of doodling...just a friendly canine reminder to have a meaningful Christmas filled with joy (much more foundational than merriment!) at the good news of a Baby born in a manger, destined to be a Savior! I hope Jesus doesn't mind my using a very photogenic rat terrier named Max to remind people of how important Christmas is!