Monday, September 27, 2010

Different, Not Less

"Different, not less!" That's how the mom of Dr. Temple Grandin described her daughter with regards to growing up with autism. Just watched the DVD about this amazing woman's life. She is a brilliant person with autism. Along her journey, people thought she should be ignored or worse, disgarded, but she is a professor and worldwide speaker on autism and animal handling. Her story is inspiring, and reminds me of how careful we need to be about dismissing people according to our quick judgments. Dr. Temple Grandin's life is a testimony to the power of hope. How thankful we all should be for the gift God gives us people who are "different, not less." Here is the trailer for the film:

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Wow, I'm Published....Sort Of...

A friend of mine on Facebook had a picture of a church published last week on a, a pretty comprehensive site on all kinds of SC information (great reference if you know someone coming to SC for a vacation). Her FB post encouraged me to submit a picture of my church, and they actually posted it! Now people can find out that Denmark, SC, does indeed exist! Click here and find out a unique relationship the First Baptist Church of Denmark and Clemson University!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Thanks to Our Father for Making Me A Country Parson

I found this bulletin yesterday, one day after the 18th anniversary of my church voting to call me as pastor, and two days after they honored me at a special service on Sunday morning. My how time flies....I mean how it REALLY flies! This coming April will mark 24 years since I came to Denmark as the church's youth and education and associate pastor.

I am grateful that my Father would allow me the privilege of being a country parson, because that is what I am. The service reminded me of just how much my Father has given me out of His grace and love. I have never deserved the privilege He and my church family has given me of ministering in this town for almost a quarter of a century. Most pastors (statistically speaking) don't stay put in a church for this long, but that means that most pastors don't get to know their people as well as I do. Most pastors don't get to honor high school graduates who he first saw on the days they were born. Most pastors don't get to perform weddings for church members who they first saw on the days they were born.

This summer, in particular, has been extraordinary in its depth of experience. I have officiated at six funerals, assisted in another, went to two more (including the tragic death of one of most beloved day care workers), officiated at two weddings, went to three graduations, spent a week on a mission trip with some of my college students, welcomed a new baby, celebrated 1st birthdays for two more, took pictures at a 90th birthday party, and helped a couple celebrate 60 years of marriage. All this occurred since the first of June.

Am I exhausted? Yes. Am I grateful? YES! Even in tiny, little Denmark, every day there are multiple opportunities to see my Father at work in so many ways...on the mountain tops of joy, and in the valleys of grief and heartache. I have prayed with many people this summer who are grieving the loss of loved ones....and when I say "loved" ones, I mean it. It is a sacred honor to be with brothers and sisters in Christ at those times when they are having to say good-bye to someone they love. It's hard to explain how much I value those conversations with people this summer who knew their time was coming to leave, and how ready they were, and how much they were trusting in the promises of Christ., and how willing they were to tell others. Seeing their peace encouraged me again and again.

This past Sunday was extremely encouraging, too. Those planning the pastor appreciation day knew how awkward it is for me to sit and listen to "appreciation," and they made sure the emphasis was on worshiping our Savior, not me. The speakers, musicians, soloists, choir, and those participating in the children's sermon (entitled: "Things You Don't Know About Andy") encouraged their pastor more than they'll ever know.

So for anyone from my First Baptist Family reading this, THANK YOU for allowing me the great privilege of being your pastor and friend these many years. THANK YOU for allowing me to journey with you through life as we seek to follow Christ. I can think of no better ending words than those of Paul in Phillipians 1:3-6: "I thank my God every time I remember you. 4In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Happy Birthday Kelly

Garrett Doss has implored all friends of his wonderful wife Kelly to find and send pictures celebrating the completion of her fourth decade on planet Earth!!! Happy 40th Kelly! Enjoy your day with your true know...the guy in the picture! Have a TITANIC Birthday (without the sinking, of course!!!!!)

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

How to Remember 9/11...

It's 8:47 am, Saturday, September minute after the exact time that the north tower of the World Trade Center was hit nine years ago by American Airlines Flight 11. The news just had a special report concerning the moment of silence at 8:46 to remember that first impact. Other moments of silence will be observed throughout the morning.
  • 9:03 am (United Airlines Flight 175 striking the south tower of the WTC)
  • 9:37 am (American Airlines Flight 77 striking the Pentagon)
  • 10:03 am (United Airlines Flight 93 crashing near Shanksville, PA after the passengers fought to regain control of the plane which would have been used for another attack...probably on the Capitol or the White House.)

Other moments worth pausing to remember include the collapse of the south tower (9:59 am) and the north tower (10:28 am).

Almost 3,000 people lost their lives that day, plus another 6,000 injured...make that "physically" injured...10,000's more family members and friends of the victims were forever injured on that day. So what do we do now?

Romans 12:21 is a simple, powerful compass for anyone seeking to respond wisely to evil: "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."

Here is how one American, Kevin Tuerff, president of EnviroMedia in Texas, remembers Sept. 11th.

For more information on this company's annual 9/11 "Pay It Forward" emphasis, go to:

September 11th, 2001 was a horrible day in the history of our nation, but the evil of the hijackers and those aiding them did NOT destroy our capacity to overcome evil with good. So let us remember those whose lives were cut tragically short, by not wasting our lives or our freedom on human selfishness. Let us not imitate the terrorist by becoming intolerant and guided by hate, but more like the good people of Gander (and so many others in our nation and around the world who poured out compassion and love in the days following the tragedy), by being kind to whoever we can. Wait, isn't that a part of what love is (I Cor. 13:4) and part of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22)?

How complicated is kindness? How many doors can it open? How many people can it "deflect" to magnify its impact (like with Kevin Tuerf!)? How many bridges can it build so people can find the ultimate kindness of God through Christ? (1 John 3:16)

So remember 9/11! But may we all join together to overcome the evil of that day with love and kindness whenever and wherever we get the opportunity!

P.S. For those who have never heard the story of little Gander, Newfoundland, Canada (pop:10,000) and the extraordinary kindness shown to over 6,500 stranded airline passengers during the week of 9/11, here it is....

Friday, September 10, 2010

Be Honest...

Hmmm...I wonder whose car this is!? Be you think the driver is "too geeky?" If you have any clue as to who this guy is, just pray for him! I'm reminded of Luke 10:38-41: As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."

Well, at least the car was parked, and he didn't try to take the picture "in transit!"