Monday, March 30, 2009

A Very Special Anniversary Present

Jenna, one of my young people, wrote this wonderful song for me for my 16th anniversary as pastor at First Baptist. We'll let you know when a CD is available!

Here are the lyrics: Click on video to hear it! Thanks again Jenna!

Super Cool Preacher Guy:

A camera flash or a Mickey Mouse tie
Or a bright red Honda speeding by
You know that's Andy, the super cool preacher guy!

He gets children's sermons from walks through the dollar store
His junk room is filled, from the ceiling to the floor
You know that is Andy, the super cool preacher guy!

He plays with Legos and Star Wars spaceships
And hands out all kinds of technology tips
You know that is Andy,the super cool preacher guy!

There's never been a question as to who I would want
To have as my preacher...No there has not
You know it'd be Andy, the SUPER COOL preacher guy!


Amazing Grace How Sweet the Soung

We had our Spring Revival Weekend and our Sunday worship began with our choir singing with the Free Gift Baptist Church Choir. Pretty "amazing" to me! Despite the rain we had a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

"Abba" Father and Battlestar Galactica

I didn't see this coming, but when it did, it whacked me up the side of the head. Friday night, I joined Battlestar Galactica's series finale. I have enjoyed the series, which has garnered a significant amount of acclaim as a scifi series.

If you are a non-scifi person, I won't bore you with details about the story, but in the last episode two angelic beings are discussing God's hand in the affairs of men. One said things were all a part of "God's plan," and the other leaned over and said softly, "You know He doesn't like that name." (with a grin)

I didn't know what to think at first, but the more I thought about it, I thought, "Hmmm, if I had paid to adopt people as my children with my Son's death on the cross, what would I want them to call me?"

Maybe "God" isn't the name He prefers above all others. Most religions refer to God as God. Even unbelievers can study "God," and talk about Him. Only children of God can call him "Abba Father" and mean it.

Paul writes in Romans 8:15,16: "For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children."

Should we abandon the term "God?" Of course not, but I was reminded that it is too easy to talk about our "God" in too much of an academic, generic, detached, way. It is far too tempting to settle for knowing "about" God rather than learning to "know" your Father and His Son, Our Savior, relationally.

With so many names for God being communicated in Scripture, no one name can be sufficient in itself, but Battlestar Galactica in an unexpected way, reminded me that I should never settle for just one either! Hope you're rejoicing that among the many names you can call our God, "Abba Father" is one of them!

Oh, one more verse for the road: 1 John 3:1: "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!"

Ugly Comfort

Last night I was prayer walking around our church courtyard with some folks for the church in preparation of this weekend's spring revival, and I noticed that the ugliest feature of our courtyard are these two air conditioning units. It made me think of how our comfort can become ugly to our Father when we put it first before loving Him and others.

I'm reminded of Jesus' parable of the rich fool in Luke 12:18-21: "Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." '"But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?' "This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God."

Christ did not put His "comfort" ahead of His mission, and I'm glad He didn't. He struggled in the garden on the way to the cross, but He still went to the cross, suffered and died for us. In doing so, He purchased our salvation at His expense.

The path to greatness is usually not the path of ease or comfort, yet how many of us get sidetracked seeking and/or maintaining just that! God does "comfort" us, but not by making life easier...the English word "comfort" can be traced back to the Latin root
fortis meaning to strengthen...literally to "come along side to strengthen." Now that's the kind of "comfort" God likes to bring us (as opposed to make us lazy kind of comfort!). God comes along side us to bring us renewed strength so that we can pass that comfort on to others in need (see II Cor. 1:3,4).

Lately, God has given me some unexpected and powerful opportunities to see how the comfort He brings is far, far superior to anything I might seek on my own...mainly because His comfort consists mainly of His presence in my life, and knowing in an ever-increasing way that He really means it when He says He loves me period, unconditionally, and independent of my circumstances.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Oh, I Want One of These....If I Could Fit In It

I guess you heard about an Indian car company coming out with the world's cheapest car...The NANO....seems to be a rural pastor's dream car, if he could fit in it! Too bad they aren't safe enough (no air bags) for US distribution yet. Here's a test drive video...

Friday, March 20, 2009

Some Great Memories From Long, Long Ago

Recently I have been in touch with some of my friends from long, long ago in a land far, far away. Long, long ago was in the mid-80's and the far, far away was Tuscaloosa, Alabama at the University of Alabama! From '84 to '85 I was privileged to be the Campus Minister Intern at the Baptist Student Union.

Yes, it's hard to believe that a.) this is me, and b.) I'd have the courage to wear this jacket! Anyway, I will never forget that wonderful year of journeying with an amazing array of young people whose faith and enthusiasm and joy made a lasting impact. This group picture is just the leadership council!

One of these former students issued a "photo challenge" to post pictures from our BSU days, so I did, or, more correctly, am doing just that.

If any BAMA BSU alums see this (or if you are just curious as to this period in my ministry), the pictures are at:

Now that I've learned to post to Facebook, I'll be adding albums in the future for my Denmark and North Augusta folks! Anyway, back to BAMA. It has been great reconnecting with some of these students and I look forward to the weeks and months ahead of doing just that! Note: If you, whoever you are, have forgotten how blessed you are by the Lord, just go pull out some old photos.

I leave with a quote from Helen Keller: "With the death of every friend I love... a part of me has been buried... but their contribution to my being of happiness, strength and understanding remains to sustain me in an altered world."

Getting Ready for a Resurrection Celebration

To help you get read for a meaningful Resurrection Celebration in a couple of weeks, check this out. Some people are just too talented!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Never Ask a 104 Year Old Her Opinion Unless You're Prepared to Hear the Truth!

Last Wednesday on the 11th of March, I had the great pleasure of visiting our oldest church member...Miss Adeline. She was 104...that's right...almost exactly twice as old as I turned just two weeks before! I have a sneaking suspicion that I won't have that many more opportunities to talk with someone twice my age. Miss Adeline has always been honest with me, and I know that the follow comments were truly an example of "speaking the truth in love!"

Anyway, she took several minutes to let me know that she wanted nothing but the best health for me. She pointed at my stomach, and then pointed upward toward my head and set, "From here up to there is okay, but that belly has to go!" I responded with a very courteous, "Yes ma'am." She then spent the next several minutes driving home the point that I "had a pretty face, but, oh, that belly!" Her "rebuke" reminds me of Proverbs 27:6: Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.

You have to admit, for a 104 year old, she had a pretty good grip on reality, because I have to agree with her, "My belly needs to go!" NOTE: This picture of me is from my time in a jacuzzi on vacation in Hilton Head in '07, and my bulk is just a bunch of HOT AIR...uh, I mean bubbling air!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Dabo Swinney is Just Too Cool AND Generous!

I know, I know, any Carolina fans are already rolling their eyes, but I can't help it. I've been wanting to share this story, but couldn't until after the retirement reception for Rev. Billy Mew, our local Baptist Association Director who just retired. It was supposed to be a surprise, and he acted like it was. I made sure, however, that he would be surprised when my turn came to "honor" him. I was in charge of the slide show. Here I am presenting him with a couple of gifts I had gotten him.

My main gift, however, was a video I made. First, some background...

Billy is a huge Clemson fan, and his reputation is that he won't do funerals or weddings on Saturdays of Clemson home football games. On a whim, I came up with the idea of filming a short video tribute by new Clemson head football coach, Dabo Swinney. I was on the Clemson website and thought, "Hey, what's the worst he can do...ignore me, or say no."

I emailed him, and said that if he was too busy, could he write a note of congratulations. He emailed back and said he'd be glad to meet with me. I went up on a Monday and spent about 20 minutes with him. Later I found out it was a very busy week for him, and just two days before "signing" day which is a big deal as new recruits officially sign on to play with the team.

He was gracious, warm, and had a great countenance. We talked a little, filmed the clip, and then I asked him if I could pray for him. He seemed glad that I offered. I told him I wanted Clemson to win if for no other reason to keep him in that position of influence. He is obviously a man of faith, and has said so. His history of helping others undergirds his testimony. Though he is passionate about football and coaching, you can tell that these are not his only passions, and for that I'm thankful. He also signed a football and photo for Billy.

As far as how Billy received it, he told me at first he thought I had gotten a video clip off the internet and then "doctored" it with my own words, but as the clip continued, he thought, "This might be real." He loved it as expected, and I really, really enjoyed the process of getting it in the first place, and am thankful I got to meet Dabo.
I didn't post the video clip because I told Dabo I wouldn't (not that he asked me to). I will, however, post a video I also played the night of the retirement reception. It brought the house down. Here's the Reverend Billy Mew and his wonderfully sweet wife, Mary Olive, doing the swing!...
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Buzzards in an Odd Place


On my way back home this past Friday, I passed through Orlanda at rush the middle of town, I was traveling between 10 and 0 MPH, and I had time to contemplate my surroundings. I noticed that several of Orlando's tallest buildings were banks, and then I notice that birds were flying around one of the banks, and they were buzzards! About thirty or so where circling and other were perched on the ledge. See for yourself...sorry for the quality, I used my cell phone:
Wait, let me zoom in a bit...

I thought, "hmmm...wonder what's dead up there? A banker, the banks assets, some of my tax money?" It reminded me that we are NOT to put our ultimate security in our money, or possessions, or this world. Our Savior reminds us to be sure we are investing in the right treasure when He said through Matthew: " "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal." (6:19,20)

As I've been reminding my church as of late, Christians need to be examples of hope, generosity and optimism, so we can create opportunities to share our ultimate security in Christ with those who are putting too much faith in treasures that are not secure!

Monday, March 02, 2009

My Florida Trip

If you'd like to see "some" of the many, many, many pictures I took on my vacation trip to Florida, click on the moon picture below, but before you do. Guess where I took this shot! Would you believe in an outlet mall parking lot!? I propped my camera on top of my car and used the night shot mode and self-timer. That "star" is not a star at all, but Venus, the "sister" planet to the Earth in that it is about the same size! NOTE: to stop the slide show after you have clicked below, just hit the pause button you'll see toward the bottom left side of the frame!