Sunday, December 26, 2010

Be the Gift in 2011

While working on my "post-Christmas" sermon, I used a song from "Mercy Me's" latest CD, The Generous Mr. Lovewell. I think it has a lot to say about what kind of life Christ wants to give all of His followers...lives of daily, consistent, acts of love and kindness! Here's hoping people can tell that you are a member of the Lovewell family!


Verse 1
He wakes up every day the same
Believing he's gonna make a change
Never wonders "if" but "when"
I guarantee he can find a way
To reach out and make somebody's day
'Cause someone took the time with him

Pre-Chorus 1:
He believes it's the little things
That make a great big change

Hey Mr. Lovewell
Doing today what you do every day
No matter how small believing it's all the same
Come on, Mr. Lovewell
Oh we could use a few more just like you
Who care enough to give this life away
'Cause you've been changed
The generous Mr. Lovewell loves today

Verse 2:
It may be a simple, "How do you do?"
The king of thing that can pull them through
A minute or two can mean so much
Or maybe it's the one across the street
He's asking if there's anything they need
'Cause they will know us by our love

Pre-Chorus 2:
It may not mean that much to him
But it's the world to them

We all need more Mr. Lovewells

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Christmas Story with Some Great Kids!

After viewing so very many dramatizations of the First Christmas, it's hard to impress me, but these kids did! May the wonder of childhood be rekindled in all who would call themselves "Christ-Follower" this Christmas Day! Take a moment to watch these kids, and smile as they remind us that the greatest gift of Christmas is a God Who would send His Son to earth as a baby that He might grow to be our Savior. In saving us, He made the way, became the way, by which we could be adopted by God that we might call Him the title He loves best...ABBA FATHER!

At its heart, Christmas is a love story summed up best by a passage you are probably very familiar with: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." John 3:16,17 So remember this Christmas Day how much the Father loves you, as John did when he wrote, "See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" 1 John 3:1

May the wonder of childhood grip you today!!!! Enjoy the Christmas Story, and remember that God wants us to be a continuing part of that story every day!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Happy Birthday Jesus - Take Two!

Here's another "Happy Birthday Jesus" song by Alabama. A little more grown-up than the previous post, but still a great reminder about why we have Christmas in the first place! Enjoy!

Christmas! It's a Birthday!

On Christmas Day why not start a new tradition! Gather everyone around the computer and play this video! Pretty simple reminder for all Christ-followers that after it's all been said and done, Christmas is a birthday celebration for the One Who loves you more than anyone! Give Him the gift He wants most...YOU!

May we find the joy in Christ that Paul expressed in Philippians 3:7-9 "But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith."


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Happy Star Wars Life Day!

I cannot believe that I did not remember this. I saw the original Star Wars about ____ (Fill in embarrassing number between 1 and 100) times, but this Star Wars Holiday Special completely slipped my mind. I say "holiday" on purpose in that since Star Wars is set in another galaxy a long, long time ago, they wouldn't know Christmas if it hit them in the head (if, that is, their species had a recognizable head!). So here it is, but I bet NO ONE can watch the whole thing! I'm a huge Star Wars fan, and I can't muster the courage (or lunacy) to waste 117 minutes watching it! It was shown only once, and George Lucas (Star Wars creator) was NOT pleased with it! Oh well, it is a part of Star Wars history, so HAPPY WOOKIE LIFE DAY!!!

For more information about the special, go here:

Friday, December 10, 2010

Thanking God for the Optimists in My Life

On the way home from a meeting at the local tech school on Wednesday, I pulled over to take this picture. Yes, there may 13 buzzards in this picture!

And, yes, my first thought was...what a great image...buzzards waiting for things to die. In an economically depressed rural town, not a pleasant thought.

I told a church member about it, and she wisely responded, "But where would we be without them?" And then I thought...we'd have to clean up a lot more road kill than we do. How dare be down and ungrateful about God's natural clean-up crew!

Ironically, I was talking with the church member who is on our finance committee about an unexpected blessing. My secretary talked to me about 20 minutes after I took this picture, the picture which tempted me to be sad about things in town dying...well, she informed me that someone had sent the church a check for $34,000, which is probably the largest single check ever we were talking about this unexpected blessing when I was reminded that what may seem like buzzards might be gifts from a loving Father, like the check.

So don't jump to conclusions about apperances...just because there are buzzards on the water tower of your life, it doesn't mean your Father isn't doing something amazing! Romans 8:28 is actually true...God does work all things out for our good if we trust Him! And while He's working it out, don't dwell on the negatives (that's a sin...see Philippians 4:8), but be joyful, pray continually, and be thankful our Father is real, and with you (1 Thess. 5:16-18), no matter how many buzzards you see!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Little Reminder of God's Grace...

I've been trying to catch up on visiting church members since getting back from vacation, and have been ministering to some folks that have had significant medical challenges, etc. The past couple of days have been challenging, but my Father is faithful in reminding me that He's faithful. Last night in the driveway of my last visit for day, He was generous enough to paint this for me and whoever else was wise enough to have a camera in his/her pocket! For some reason, it made me feel better. If you see something beautiful out there, take a picture, and then give God credit!

Surviving the Happy Holidays if You're Not So Happy!

Not everyone has a "Happy" Holiday this time of year. My church family has lost more members this year to death than in a normal year, so more of my church members are facing their first Christmas without a loved one. Add to that countless others suffering from depression, illness, loneliness, etc. that give ample opportunities to feel sad during "the most wonderful time of the year."

I came across this article concerning using the psalms to "confront the uncomfortable darkness," and I thought it had some pretty good insight into how important being honest with God is, especially when we are grieving or depressed. The author is Dr. Lynn Anderson ( Here are the first two paragraphs:

The Psalms help us explore the uncomfortable. God provides therapy through the Psalms. As we pray all of the Psalms — laments as well as praises — they will take us into emotional geography that we might otherwise avoid. They lead us to process painful feelings we might otherwise just stuff down inside.

Our “happy happy” culture programs us to avoid painful or negative feelings. But serious downsides come with this kind of avoidance. Mental health professionals have long since discovered that swallowed painful feelings, like anger, fear and shame usually produce negative consequences. These feelings frequently come out in some destructive form, such as clinical depression or substance abuse or sexual acting out. God knew this. And I believe one reason he gave us the Psalms is to help us unearth these kinds of feelings and deal with them. By praying the Psalms we vent and lay our stuff honestly at His feet. God is big enough to let us beat on his chest.

The rest of the article can be found here:

As we celebrate the birth of Christ this Christmas season, be especially sensitive to those who may be having a more difficult time celebrating.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Christmas, It's About the Cross, Too!

As always, I'm experimenting with different lighting, etc., to get interesting shots of our sanctuary's Christmas decorations. When someone got a large nativity set for the baptistry there was a little discussion about whether to cover the cross, perhaps to put up a star, and I think we did do that one year, but I like having the cross up there. I put a red filter on the church spotlight and got this effect. (For more pictures of our decorations go to:

We as Christ-followers can easily get so caught up in Christmas traditions that we subconsciously separate Christ's birth from His purpose in coming, which included His eventual death as a sacrifice for our sin. In Luke 2, when Simeon blessed the child in the temple because God had promised him that he would not die without seeing the Messiah, he was not all sweetness and light.

“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.” The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” Luke 2:29-35

What had happened to Mary was miraculous beyond comprehension, but her son's journey would not be without pain (immense pain), and she would experience pain on the journey, too. This picture also reminds me of the words of the angelic messenger in Luke 2:10,11: And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. There could be no Savior without a cross, so may part of your Christmas celebration be thanksgiving that Christ came not just to give us the ultimate Christmas story, but to save us from our sin! Click on the video to see/hear one of my favorite Christmas songs by Go Fish:

Don't Be a Disney Racist! Give Their New Scrooge a Chance!

Disney's newest version of "A Christmas Carol" may be much better than you'd expect! I know prejudiced people with regards to movies. Some people (usually younger ones) write off black and white movies immediately, others can't stomach science fiction, and others think watching animated movies, unless you're enduring it for the sake of your children, is a complete waste of time. Some movies...uh, many movies are a complete waste of time, but not because of their genre or media type, but because of a lack of story.

Pixar has yet to make a movie (and they are all animated)that has not been a commercial success. Why? Because they are masterful story tellers. All of this is to say, don't write off Disney's latest animated version of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol." If you have a HD television, it is just an amazing things to look at. What surprised me though, was how much of the dialogue was lifted right out of Dicken's original work.

Case in point. When the ghost of Marley comes to visit Scrooge, Scrooge comments that Marley was always a good business man. This sends the ghost into a whail. The book and the movie are almost word for word in Marley's response:

"Business!" cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. "Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!"

I love the story of a Christmas Carol because it so clearly illustrates a fundamental principle of life: that transformation rarely comes without struggle; and that transformation is possible. So check it out in this video clip. Some scenes may be a little too intense for very young children, and they certainly won't get a lot of the dialogue, but I found it a pleasant Christmas surprise!

Monday, December 06, 2010

Advent Conspiracy Plug

Last night some folks in Bamberg County witnessed a Christmas miracle! I spoke at the annual Christmas tree lighting at the courthouse. It was 40 degrees (the wind chill made it feel like 20 below!), and I was met with well-wishers encouraging me to "keep it short preacher!" I don't blame was cold. I had asked my church family to pray for me as I had been informed earlier that I needed to keep the "message" between 5 and 10 minutes. Last night that range changed from 5 to 10 minutes to 5 to 8 minutes per the requests of my welcoming committee.

Well, I preached for 8 minutes! Yes, someone timed it! I did manage, however, to get in plugs for:

The Bishop's Wife, on of my favorite Christmas movies (the black and white version): I referenced the final sermon given by the bishop, a sermon (it only lasts about a minute) written by an angel, played by Cary Grant. Go to the 6:30 mark for the sermon if you're in a hurry. It will be worth it if you haven't seen it!

I also took the speaking opportunity to plug the Advent Conspiracy (go to: for more info). Here is their first video promo from several years ago followed by a more recent (2009) version:

Finally, here are three of the founding pastors giving an introduction to the Advent Conspiracy.

If you haven't already, think about joining the conspiracy!! You may just find Christmas more wonderful than you ever imagined!

Saturday, December 04, 2010

How Good is Your Church Connection?

Several of my friends have already purchased HD TV's and are enjoying the bigger, clearer pictures they are getting. Stay with me, I'll get to the church thing in a minute.

Here is a picture of the various kinds of cables you can use to connect your TV to an antenna, cable or satellite box. Pick the wrong cable, and you'll cheat yourself out of the High -Def picture you were expected. Also, you have to sign up for HD programming from your cable or satellite provider, too!

Anyway, as I was thinking about these various connection options, I thought about a person's church connection. Someone who attends only on Sunday mornings and only sporadically isn't going to get as clear a picture as to what God is up to in the local church as someone who is more involved (involved is NOT the same thing as attending.).

If you never get out of a pew and get involved in deeper discipleship and mission experiences, then your picture of what God is doing in the church is going to be blurry and not as satisfying. As we grow in our faith, I hope we will get a "higher definition" picture of who Jesus really is, and if you are not actively following Jesus (He, through His Spirit, by the way, is always on the move outside the walls of the church working to bring others into His family!), how can you get a clear picture of Him.

Christ died to give us the clearest picture possible on this side of heaven as to Who our Father is. Since he paid such a high price, don't you think we should do our part to be connected to the family He's called us to? Don't settle for a fuzzy picture of God's family, the church. Check your might be time for an upgrade!


First, did you know that has a good many free ebooks in the Kindle format. I just downloaded A Christmas Carol for my Ipad.

Second, did you know that if you do not have a Kindle book reader you can buy and read Kindle books by downloading the FREE Kindle application (for PC,Mac, Iphone, Ipod-Touch, Ipad, Blackberry, and Android phones). By the way, Barnes and Nobles has its own free reader software, too!

Third, did you know that if you do have a Kindle, that the books you have already bought do not have to be re-purchased if you get another device like an Ipad?

Fourth, what are you waiting for? Go the the Kindle Store at Amazon and see what bargains you can get! (Amazon did NOT pay me to say any of this!)
Go here for more information:

Friday, December 03, 2010

The Opposite of Stinkin' Thinking - Faith, Hope, Love

I have no idea what pain you are going through right now. I have no idea about what traumas you have endured in your life, or what suffering lies ahead for you. What I do know is that there are people like Brryan Jackson (that spelling is NOT a typo!) who have gotten raw deals beyond my ability to comprehend. Brryan was this week's "Person of the Week" on ABC World News. His father injected him with HIV infected blood as an infant to hopefully kill him so he wouldn't have to pay child support.

His father is serving a life sentence for this heinous crime. Brryan is a freshman in college; is almost completely deaf from the medication he's had to take; and has endured added emotional pain from the reactions and rejections of others.

He also has embraced life; forgiven his father; helps others with HIV, and is, well, amazing! So if you are experiencing continuing difficulties, here is someone who shows the power you DO have over whatever is happening...the power to choose your response. His story is humbling, and encouraging. Every day you have is precious; don't waste it by being unkind, indifferent, bitter, selfish, hateful, unforgiving, materialistic, apathetic, etc. No, it may not be easy to change your responses, but Brryan shows us it is possible.

For Christ-followers, remember that God's will for you is that you be transformed by His Spirit and His Truth through the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:1,2), NOT that you be conformed to the world (i.e. responding to difficulty the way the world does.). No, it's not easy to change how you think and how you respond, but how many truly worthwhile things are easy? Don't give up thinking your life is as good as it's going to be. God will bring good out of whatever pain you have had, have now, or will have, if you trust Him. Brryan proves it can happen, and our Father provides all you need to make it happen. Don't give up hope, after all, hope is vital! Wait, that's the name of the organization Brryan founded to help those infected with HIV! For more info on Brryan's website go to:

Find out more about Brryan's amazing story here:

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Stinkin' Thinkin' - A Life Crippling Condition

Summary: Saw this article today about identifying the crippling life perspective known as "stinkin' thinkin'," and it got me thinkin'. Here's the article: If it describes you, read on....

Let me say first and foremost that I hurt for those folks who, through a combination of a lot of factors, suffer from what many counselors have dubbed "stinkin' thinkin'." It is a paralyzing mental perspective that colors the majority of life events in a negative, dysfunctional, often destructive way. I have told so many folks that the older I get, and the more people I meet, talk with, minister to, etc., the more I'm convinced that 99% of our happiness is based not on our circumstances, but on how we mentally process and respond to those circumstances.

Scriptures command us to dwell on the positive (Phil. 4:8), not to worry about anything (Phil. 4:6; Matt. 6:34), to do everything WITHOUT complaining or arguing (Phil. 2:14), to speak only what is helpful (Eph. 4:29), etc. I'm not saying that altering one's thinking patterns is easy, but I do believe that it is one of the primary ways (if not the primary way) that we experience God's will for our lives. I do believe that Scripture speaks to the dangers of negative thinking.

I am writing to offer encouragement and hope to anyone who lives in a continuing state of negative life processing because I have witnessed transformation among people who finally had enough of making life (which is already difficult) even more difficult by seeing so much in an overly negative light. Sure, we can't be pie-in-the-sky, out-of-touch-with-reality, happy-go-lucky, disconnected from reality optimists. I do believe, however, that our Father expects his children to be biblical, obedient, faithful, joyful optimists. Yes, you can experience depression, frustration, etc., as temporary experiences (God has promised to bring good out of those times, too), but what life perspective guides you? How does your particular life perspective affect those around you? Your spouse? Your children? How does it affect your witness for Christ?

Romans 12:1,2 warns us not to be conformed to the patterns of this world (patterns like materialism, selfishness, and may I dare add "pessimism?"), but to "be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." (Romans 12:1,2)

Are you suffering from thinkin' stinkin'? How can you tell? Pray about it. Are you being obedient to those Scriptures that address your thought life? Ask someone who loves you what they think. More importantly, ask your Father what He thinks about you! (He made you in His image; sent His Son to die to adopt you as His child; has given you the opportunity to join Him in His redemptive purposes of adopting others into His Family; etc.)

Take whatever steps needed to begin the journey to a higher (even more realistic) view of Our Father, reality, and yourself. You went to school to learn things to help you live life, right? Perhaps God wants you to go back to school to make Romans 12:1,2 more of a reality in your daily have a renewed mind that thinks, acts, decides, etc., more and more like Jesus Christ and less and less like the world. Life is too important to give up or give in to the way it's always been.

Find a counselor (take your time to find a good one), who can help you take steps to doing life differently. Don't just try harder to be positive; get back to the truth of Scripture; re-connect with a community of faith; re-evaluate your relationships (do you have any positive friends to help challenge your negative attitudes?); just don't settle for life as is. Christ died to give us an abundant life, not an easy, comfortable one, but one of love and purpose, but the catch is it has to be His way, not ours, and definitely not the world's.

The first step is being honest about your attitudes. I found this article today that outlines classic symptoms of stinkin' thinkin'. If it describes you, don't give up or give in. Take that first step to a better way of doing life...Christ's way! The article: