Saturday, December 24, 2011

Advent Conspiracy - Better Late than Never

Here is the updated video for this year's Advent Conspiracy.If you haven't heard of it, check it out! It's one of the best new (yet really old) perspective on a healthier Christmas, and one that will bring joy to our Savior!

For more info, check out:

Nothing Like Reality for Christmas


Video - Christmas - God's Plan

Don't look away...there is a lot here to consider and it comes at you fast, but what a way to drive home the IMPORTANCE of the Incarnation!!! Enjoy!

Video - What Child is This!

May you and your family have a great Christmas with a renewed sense of wonder at the Child Who came to save us!

By the way, for $99.00/year, you can legally download all clips from Hyper Pixels Media! Not a bad deal:

Video - Christmas "Blockbuster" Version

This video was a little too BIG in production values for my church service...looks like something James Cameron may have thought up!

Video - Christmas in a Nutshell

Video - The Paradox of Christmas

Great reminder of how far Christ came to love us!


Christmas Video - A More Accurate Nativity!

Really cool video for kids...well, for us all!!!

Video Clip for Christmas - One Baby Changed the World!

Christmas 2011 - Silent Night Sand Art

Another clip to help you celebrate Christ's birth! Note: music doesn't kick in until 10 seconds!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My Christmas Card

Here's is this year's Christmas card I made using a picture I took last year of our church nativity scene in our baptistry. My computer did the "art" work! I hope everyone has a meaningful celebration of the birth of Christ!

Thursday, December 08, 2011

I'm Back to Wish You a Happy Christ's Birthday!

I have really appreciated hearing from several of the six people who occasionally read my blog that they missed me. Sorry I got out of the habit of reflecting on life in a small town as a country parson. It's very easy to put blogging at the bottom of my "to do" list. I will try to do better. Right now I'm about to do a marathon day of visiting folks who I've needed to visit for a while. Was out most of last week with a nasty throat infection, but now am thanking my Father for the gift of painless swallowing!

So here, with the help of Linus and Snoopy, is my Christmas wish for you all!!!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Photo Opp on a Dam

Sometimes you just need to get out of the car and walk on a dam, and maybe, just maybe, you'll get one of those photos you never one (or several) of a sailboat in the reflection of the setting sun! It was very, very cool and I got much needed exercise running from shot to shot to keep the sailboat in the reflection! Okay, okay, I "might" have juiced up the color saturation on the sunset.

If you really, really want to see some more shots from the dam, you'll find them here:

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

An Encouraging Voice

It has been a tough year so far in Denmark in terms of my bereavement ministry. In a few hours I'll officiate at my 9th for the year. A church member asked me if I was ok yesterday after running into me at Wal-Mart. I told her, that I was sad because I've been dealing with a lot of sadness lately. A lot of pastors deal with pettiness, divisions, etc. in their churches, but that is not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about grieving people, people struggling with real issues of health, family struggles, etc.

I have faith in Christ that through His Spirit He is with us; that heaven waits for those who've trusted Him, that He'll provide whatever I need to minister and witness to others. Still, I am SO glad that the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write in Romans 12:15: Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. I'm glad that most of the psalms are songs of consolation or grief. I'm glad the Scriptures tell us that being sad is appropriate at times. I am just a bit weary of the intensity of sadness over the past many months (sleeping in a church with 300 World Changers on a mission project last week didn't help.).

Father has been faithful, however, to sustain me during this season of grief. He does that in a variety of ways. One way has been through three guys who continue to encourage me as they have since I've known them, usually in ways that they are completely unaware of. I'm talking about the three sons of my friends, Randy and Kittie Trail, Ben, Patrick and Thomas. Randy, Kittie and I were in seminary together long ago. I was best man at their wedding. My friendship with them and their boys is one of the most important gifts Father has ever given me.

Randy and Kittie have spent their lives as career missionaries. Their boys love Christ...I mean they really love Christ in a way that is obvious to anyone who knows them. They love Christ in a way that is so well-integrated into their lives. I have to get to work on my funeral message, so I can't write all I'd want right now about how Christ in them "looks," but as an example, read Thomas' (the youngest son, a rising junior at the University of Richmond) last blog post from Malawi, Africa where he has spent the summer on a physical therapy (his major) internship. He was brought up primarily in Mauritius and Botswana. I think his folks were serving in Rwanda when he was born. He and his brothers have an expanded world view when compared with a lot of American kids.

He has been reporting about his work in Africa this summer, and his reports have encouraged me in many ways. What has encouraged me a lot is his passion and love for the people of Malawi and Africa and his faith in Christ. I could write similar stories about his brothers, but am running out of time. Thomas returns home today and I look forward to seeing him soon to hear of his journey. Click here to read his last post. How I wish we all had such a passion for the things that matter...and the "things" that matter the most aren't things at all, but Christ and people.

Last week I was encouraged as I heard other stories of believers at World Changers, probably more than I ever had been before. Have you shared your story lately? It might be more encouraging than you know! Here's the link to Thomas' blog post:

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

My World Changers Crew - The Sore Thumbs

One of the best features of World Changers is to throw together adults and youth from various churches into crews. The first night we knew nothing about each other, but by the end of the week, it was pretty amazing how well we worked together. I had an excellent team...see for yourself! (Don't forget to click on the full screen control at the bottom right of the screen.)

Our World Changers Mission Trip to Chattanooga, TN

Just spent a week in Chattanooga with our World Changers mission team. Here's what happened...(remember to click the FULL SCREEN thingy in the bottom right corner!) This is the video of my church's youth/college group.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

On The 4th of July - Absolute Freedom is Not The Goal!

I like being a free American. Of course, even as Americans, we are not "absolutely free." Some Americans are in prison because they tried to have absolute freedom and violated the law. The law, you know, that system that enables us to live as free Americans. An example of this are the laws that allow us to drive in a "relatively" safe environment, where drivers mutually agree to obey (more or less) the basic rules of the road. I like those laws.

I was reminded of the dangers (and sadness) of absolute freedom this past week. A couple of weeks ago, a church member called with "a problem," and it was definitely a problem. She had just brought her husband home from the hospital that afternoon. He had had a major battle with pneumonia, so he was not well by a long shot. (Note: He's better now.) They had arrived to find a dead stray dog about 20 ft. from their backdoor. (Please note this picture is of a SLEEPING dog, but you get the idea!) They had been in the hospital for several days, the daily highs were in the 99-101 range, so you can imagine the condition of the dog.

No "official" dog removal city worker was available on a Sunday afternoon, so I assured her I would take care of it. Technically, I guess I should have said, "I'll find someone to take care of it" because that's what I did by asking two of my deacons to remove the offending corpse after our monthly deacons' meeting that night. I went to "supervise," or rather, to check on the couple while the dog was removed. Yes, it was nauseating,I mean REALLY nauseating, but my great deacons prevailed, and the problem was "removed."

The next day I received a call from long time friends, Gene and Beth, who had to put their beloved Deacon to sleep. Wait, wait...their beloved "Deacon" was a sixteen year old Cairn Terrier. They loved Deacon, and he loved them; he was there for most of their two kids' childhood. It was very, very painful. He was laid to rest in a nice plot in their backyard.

Unlike the stray, Deacon lived a confined life. He was taken on daily walks on a leash, and spent most of his time in the house with his family. The stray had no such restraints; he was absolutely free. I couldn't help but notice the differences in the deaths of these two dogs. One was a nuisance, and had to be removed and discarded as garbage. The other had become a member of a family, lovingly allowed a peaceful passing to avoid additional pain due to old age. He was named, he will be remembered; he is still being grieved over. His owners are grateful they had him, loved him and was loved by him.

Our Father's commands are not meant to damage us, or to hurt us, but to enable us to experience His love so that we can better love others. As the scriptures says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” (Hebrews 12:5,6 quoting Prov. 3:11,12) I'll choose discipline by a Father Who truly loves me over absolute freedom anytime! I hope you do, too!

Christ's Light Needs to Shine Through

I took this picture the other day. I say "picture" in the singular, because it's the same picture. The first is what I saw, and the second is the picture after I touched it up a bit...ok, a LOT. Technically, I didn't paint any additional colors into the photo, but used the computer to bring out and intensify the colors that were already there.
All this is to say that it reminds me of how knowing Christ as Lord and Savior fundamentally changes us. The first picture reminds me of who we are without Christ; the second picture is what we are after coming to know Christ...having His Spirit through His light, truth, and power bring out that which our Father created in us for His glory! So keep shining for Him!

Monday, July 11, 2011

My Hometown

Decided to get some much-needed exercise on the Fourth of July, so I took a stroll down the main street of North Augusta, SC with my camera. As I'm still finding excuses to use the slideshow feature of my Mac, I decided to do one celebrating my hometown. North Augusta was a great place to grow up in that it feels like a small town, yet all the amenities of a city lie a few hundred yards across the Savannah River in Augusta, GA. So here's my "Main Street Montage!"

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Our Father the Great Botanical Artist!

I recently took a stroll through the Orangeburg Memorial Gardens to take in some of our Father's creative handiwork. The pictures gave me another opportunity to play with my new Mac's slideshow capabilities. The song is from an old musical the Baptist Student Union Choir performed while I was studying at Clemson. (The pops in the audio is from the VINYL record where I lifted the recording. How old is that?!!) Enjoy the beauty and the message!

Oh, and use this as an opportunity to worry less! Remember what Christ says in Matthew 6:27-34: Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Little Sins Add Up

Recently, I saw this segment on Discovery Channel's "The Deadliest Catch," about the danger of ice collecting on the ship's gear. If it is not removed quickly, disaster can happen. Click on video to see why this is such a problem.

Tiny droplets of water, combined with freezing temperatures and wind can destroy a crab boat and its crew. But it's just drops of water, against a ship of many tons of steel, how could that be? Ignoring those tiny particles of ice means certain death.

How often do we ignore the accumulation of little sins in our lives, rationalizing them at first because everyone is doing it, or it's so small, or no one knows anyway. Still, seeds will eventually grow. You've heard or read the saying:

We sow a thought and reap an act;
We sow an act and reap a habit;
We sow a habit and reap a character;
We sow a character and reap a destiny.

Christ saved us to be transformed into the "new self" which reflects His love and light to a world so desperately in need of it. Ephesians 4:22-24 puts it this way: You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

We are to pay attention to our own sin (instead of being preoccupied with the sin of others), if we are to grow in Christ. Don't let the small sins accumulate in your life; eventually, they will do their damage!

Here is one final Biblical reminder from Hebrews 12:1-3: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

If you are growing weary and losing heart, you may want to "get out on deck" and check your "gear" to see if something dangerous is accumulating!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Vacation Bible School 2011

Another Vacation Bible School at First Baptist is history. Everyone seemed to enjoy being "Backstage with the Bible." Here is a slide show with just a few of the 1,522 pictures I edited. NO, I didn't take all of them. I had three additional photographers roaming backstage to get those special VBS moments. Among my favorites...toddlers' first VBS experiences.

Thanks go out to all the workers who made "Backstage" happen! This also marks the first VBS for me that was 100% Mac. I did this using iPhoto on my Macbook Pro. Click on the video to go "backstage" at Denmark First Baptist's Vacation Bible School!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Happy Father's Day...Abba Father!

I wonder how many believers will celebrate Father's Day tomorrow and forget to thank the greatest of all dads, our ABBA FATHER! Maybe this will remind you to do just that! Oh, and never forget, 1 John 3:1, "See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!"

Another Powerful Reminder for Anyone Who Loves Kids!

We live in a culture that is trying to convince all of us (and especially our children) that true happiness is a product of selfishness; of getting what you want, as quickly and as easily as possible. Left alone, children will usually favor recess over math, or candy over vegetables, or sleeping late over catching a school bus. They need adults to showing them that what they want is not always what they need, and what the need may not be the easiest thing to get, but that it will be worth it. May all of us help our children who NEED us to show them what they truly NEED, too!

Praying for Our Fathers and for the Rest of Us!

Happy Father's Day! If you have or had a great father, you have every reason to look forward to tomorrow. Not everyone, however, will see tomorrow as a day to rejoice.
  • Some will not have ever had the experience of a good father, but perhaps an abusive one.
  • Others may have never had a father.
  • Others will be having the first Father's Day without their dad, either through death or the breakup of a marriage.
  • Others will be dads, but maybe they realize they haven't done a great job; some will be right, and some will be wrong.
Let us be sensitive to everyone we see tomorrow. Rejoicing with those who can rejoice, and mourning with those who mourn. We can also help the dads we know by being good influences on their children, too.

I saw this video tonight, and it made me think of just how powerful a person a dad is (for good or evil). It also reminded me of how we should pray for the dads we know (whether our own or not) often, for the power they exert over their children's lives can have eternal implications.

If you are an adult, but not a parent, children you know are watching you, too! Let's help our dads by being positive influences on their kids. This video will help us all realize how important it is that we realize our place in the lives of our children. Our dads, no matter how good they are, would probably appreciate all the help they can get in raising their kids!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Easy to Forget The Price Paid for Our Freedom

This video clip is a powerful reminder as to the cost of our freedom. Honor our war dead today (and everyday) by using your freedom to overcome your own selfishness to give yourself to something greater than yourself. Christ said the most important things we can do on any day is to love God and love others. (Matt. 22:34-40) I can't think of a better use for our freedom. Have a meaningful Memorial Day and remember those families who lost loved ones in service to our country.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

We're Better In Groups

Saw this ad which illustrates how it's better to be "attached" to a group. How true!

I have heard some people say, "I don't need to go to church to be a Christian." Well, maybe that "can" be true, but I don't think it's possible to be an "obedient" Christian while intentionally being disconnected from any community of faith. Speaking to the importance of finding your part in the body of Christ, Paul writes, "20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. 27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it." (I Cor. 12:20-27)

An excellent movie for kids (and adults willing to be encouraged by something animated) that illustrates this point is Disney's Dinosaur.

If you're looking for a great clip to show kids (or youth) about the need for community, here is one from the movie. This is near the end of the movie which basically contrasts two ways of life. The hero, Aladar, was raised by a bunch of lemurs who have taught him compassion and the importance of community, whereas the herd's leader lives by a strict "survival of the fittest" model. Oddly enough, it is his philosophy of individual strength over concern for others that is his eventually undoing.

Here's the clip:

So don't go it alone! It's just plain dumb...uh, and dangerous!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Rob and Kristin's Wedding Slideshow

I have a lot to learn about putting together slideshows with my new MacBook, but it's a start. Buck Ridge Plantation was a great place to have a wedding. The weather looked pretty threatening at first, and an outdoor ceremony seemed to be fading as a possibility, but the weather gave this very "in love" couple a deluge (or even a sprinkle)..and then, during the reception, a rainbow!

As a friend of mine said, "It looked like a happy wedding." I was there...and it was! Congratulations Rob and Kristin! Enjoy the rest of your life and thanks for letting me be a part of tying the knot! The original is much clearer. Had to reduce quality to get it to upload in a reasonable time. Click for the video! Links to photo albums follow:

Main album:

Friday, April 29, 2011

Pray for Tuscaloosa, AL

I lived in Tuscaloosa, AL from 1984 to 1987, and fell in love with the place and the amazing number of fantastic people there. I can't tell you what a great year of ministry I had as Campus Minister Intern here (pic) at the Baptist Student Center, followed by a year and a half of serving the Lord through the loving church family at First Baptist Tuscaloosa as Minister to College Students and Single Adults.To see the total devastation caused this week by what is already being called the worst tornado in the state's history, is heart-breaking. Pray especially for those who lost loved ones, were injured, and those involved in recovery efforts.

Pleasantly Surprised at the Royal Wedding

NO, I did NOT get up at 4:00 this morning to see the "Wedding of the Universe." (That is what the major networks are calling it, aren't they?) I did, however, wake up on my own around 6:00 and, yes, I did turn on the tube in time to see the actual ceremony live.

It is not William and Catherine's fault the media is so insane about covering every possible "angle" (including imagined angles!) of the event. I admit that the coverage since their announced engagement has left me longing for the thing to be over with so we could talk about something else. The ceremony, however, held several unexpected (I admit my "expectations" are my own fault.) surprises including:

1. At least the ABC news people kept quiet during the actual ceremony.

2. The content of the wedding homily (sermon for all my Baptist brothers and sisters!) was, well, amazing. The message starts at time marker 3:40 in this clip. Be patient if you click it on the day of the wedding as I'm sure lots of people are trying to view was slow.)

The text of the message can be found here:

Having done my share of weddings, I was VERY impressed with the content of this message.

3. The reading of Romans 12 by Kate's brother. You can read it here:

What a great passage to be read at a wedding. This Romans passage does not just describe the kind of life our Father wants to give married couples in Christ, but this is His desire for all His children. Can you imagine a world in which people lived this way?

4. The simple prayer composed by William and Catherine read by the Archbishop of London, Dr. Richard Chartres:

God our Father, we thank you for our families; for the love that we share and for the joy of our marriage.

In the busyness of each day keep our eyes fixed on what is real and important in life and help us to be generous with our time and love and energy.

Strengthened by our union help us to serve and comfort those who suffer. We ask this in the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Amen.

An estimated two BILLION people watched this wedding, so I hope at least some of them really listened to the homily and the scripture reading. It will be interesting to see all the dissecting of today's events, and specifically the extent to which commentators go on and on about Kate's wedding dress, yet completely ignore the content of the service. Ouch! There I go being cynical again!

May we all pray a great marriage for William and Catherine, and they will have such a marriage if they trust Christ to make a continuing reality of what they heard throughout their ceremony. May each of us be so committed to Christ to see it happen in our lives, too!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Sometimes, You Just Have to Jump in a Chair!

Did your pastor jump up in his "pastor's chair," and yell "SMILE" during your Resurrection Sunday Church Service? I don't know what came over me, but I wanted to take a group picture to give to a church member who missed his first Easter service in probably....well, maybe a lifetime. I was already told that I would have to provide prints to everyone. I can live with that (IF Walgreen's or CVS runs a two-for-one special!). Here is the picture followed by a link to other Easter morning pictures.

Jesus is Alive! Oh, and He's REAL, too!

I like gadgets...probably too much. At a weak moment, I recently bought a Nintendo 3DS handheld gaming system. I was lured into getting it because in addition to gaming, it is a 3D camera which is pretty cool. One of the games I bought is more of a simulation...a virtual puppy. Another intriguing feature of the system is what is called "augmented reality," which utilizes two front facing cameras to create the illusion of having a virtual puppy (I named mine "Cooper," and he even responds to my voice. Click on the first video to meet Cooper and click on the second one to see an example of Cooper living in the land of "augmented reality." Or you can trust me as to the coolness of the technology and skip down to the application of this technology to reawaken the wonder of having a REAL Savior (vs. a dead religion!).

And an example of augmented reality...

So what does this have to do with Jesus? Here is last week's church newsletter article I wrote attempting to show this connection:

I Got a New Dog! A couple of weeks ago I bought a new Golden Retriever puppy named Cooper! He’s smart and can already sit on command. He loves to play fetch with a tennis ball, and he walks well on a leash. He’s pretty good at taking a bath, too. The only downside is HE IS NOT REAL!

He exists in a handheld game system. The technology is pretty impressive in that he appears in 3D, and responds not only to my voice and the name I picked out, but also to your facial expressions (via the system’s camera). He is probably the most advanced “virtual” dog available, but he is not the real thing. He’s stuck in a little gadget, and can never truly enter my world in the flesh. The system can make him "appear" to exist in my world, but it's just an illusion.

I’m sure that when the game breaks or I lose the game cartridge, I won’t shed a tear over losing Cooper. How could I? He is really nothing more than a bunch of 1’s and 0’s in a computer chip! I remember when Dave, my real dog died, how amazed I was that it hurt so much to lose him.

What does all this have to do with Christ as we approach Resurrection Sunday? I was just thinking about how easy it is to treat Jesus like I treat Cooper…turning him on for a diversion (or paying attention to him when I’m in real trouble), but then turning him off again for the majority of my life. Like my virtual puppy, the Jesus of some people appears to be trapped not in a handheld gadget, but in a church building, where He’s paid attention to for an hour or two a week. As we leave a worship service, it’s so easy to leave Jesus there and not think about Him much in the coming week. Then we end up acting and reacting to the week’s circumstances just like everyone else does, Christian or not.

Jesus didn’t die a horrible death and rise from the grave merely to give us all a bunch of things to believe so we’ll get into heaven one day. He died so we could be adopted into God’s family NOW and forever, and He rose so He could be our REAL living Lord in daily relationship with us. How sad it would be for an adopted child who knew the facts of his/her adoption, but never connected with, or was transformed by the love of his/her parents…a love that sacrificed so much to make him/her a part of their family.

Paul makes this clear in Romans 8:15,16: "The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, 'Abba, Father.' The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children."

The abundant life of an adopted child of our Heavenly Father is a reality both now and in the "hereafter," and that beats any fancy, cutting-edge, technological virtual puppy! Jesus really lived on earth, really died on a cross, really rose from the dead, and now really sits at our Abba Father's right hand. Oh, and His REAL living Spirit is right here to transform us into the people who love our Father and others more and more like Jesus Christ does.

My prayer is that you will celebrate our Living Savior and Lord both when you are with a community of faith, and when you are alone. May we celebrate every day for the rest of our lives, that we have opportunity after opportunity to know the Creator of the Universe as our own “Abba Father.”

Sure, a virtual, computerized, once-a-week, electronic savior would be easier to deal with in some ways, but you can’t be saved, transformed, or loved by something that’s not real. Jesus is Risen! Jesus is Lord! Jesus is Real!!!!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Baptists Need to Dance More!

My Baptist heritage says I should not dance, and my physical lack of finesse and rhythm insures that I won't dance. Still, the Scriptures tell us in Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 that...There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: 2 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance...(also check out Jeremiah 31:12-14)

Good Friday is our time to mourn over our sin which took Jesus to the cross to suffer and die in our place, but Resurrection Sunday is our time to dance over the good news that Jesus has defeated death (on the cross and for each of us) by rising from the grave to be our Living Lord. Oh that we would have enjoy joy and gratitude to dance with joy as our brothers and sisters in Christ did last year in Hungary. Click on the video to see what I mean! May such joy grip you every day of your life as you remember how much our Father has "lavished" His love on you!

The Bridge - A Modern Tale of Love and Sacrifice

I've probably posted this for some Easter past, but it still paints a powerful portrait of sacrificial love.

If you want to see the 30 minute movie in its entirety, go to:

The Silence is Broken!

Wow! Almost a month with no posting...sorry about that, but, as usual, I've been "distracted." I was taking some time to get ready for this coming Sunday's resurrection celebration., when I ran across this Easter video from IgniterMedia. I've seen several video presentations using "social networking" to tell the gospel story. I thought this one had some merit of telling an old, familiar (sometimes a danger....that over-familiarity with sacred things) story framed in a current social phenomenon. I hope it reminds you of the wonder of the Creator of the Universe coming to earth as a man to die for us, and then to rise from the dead to be our Living Lord.

You can purchase this video from

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Thankful for a Church that Bucked the Trend

My brother thought it necessary to cheer me with this article from the New York Times ( the perceived reluctance (some would say "discrimination") of modern churches (non-Catholic of course) to hire single pastors. April 5th marks my 24th (yep, you read that right!) anniversary of when my church called me as their Education-Youth-Associate Pastor. This September will mark my 19th anniversary of being called as the senior pastor. That breaks the record of the next longest tenure by seven years.

When I share this with people who aren't from Denmark, they usually raise an eyebrow or two. I tell them that the church keeps me around because I'm less expensive to "keep up" than a married guy. Seriously, I am thankful to have a loving church family who was willing to take a chance to buck the trend of having to have a married pastor. I think that they are still fairly happy with that decision.

I have been told by married pastor friends that I may have ruined the church for the "next" pastor just because my time availability will be hard to provide by a married man with a family. I guess I can live with that risk.

I am also thankful that my Abba Father has graciously allowed me the privilege to serve here despite that I might be defying "the logic of Scripture and the centrality of marriage in society,” which some (see quote by Dr. Albert Mohler, President of the SBC's second largest seminary, in the article) say justify “the strong inclination of congregations to hire a man who is not only married but faithfully married.”

This isn't to pick an argument with anyone, but just a note of thanksgiving for my ministry. I hope you are equally thankful for yours, no matter what your marital status!

Note: To see what Paul thinks about single Christians, check out 1 Corinthians 7....pretty interesting stuff!

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Don't Be a Freight Train!

Yesterday as I approached The Oaks retirement center to visit some church members, I pulled over to finish a phone conversation, and to take some pictures. The center has a serene corridor of oaks at the entrance including a walking path and benches which make for a peaceful setting (perfect for finishing up a phone call!). See what I mean...Suddenly, the railroad crossing signals began to blink and clang, and then the blast of a freight train. I wasn't that far from the tracks, so the noise definitely disrupted my conversation.

While talking to my friend, a sermon illustration hit me (better than the train hitting me for sure!). The train reminded me of how easy it is for well-meaning (well sometimes) Christians to tackle an issue with such fierce meanness, that they shut down all dialogue about the issue. It's so hard to have a decent dialogue with a freight train coming through the conversation, yet the effect is the same when our passion for a cause manifests itself in shouting and stomping our feet.

Sure, we need to get angry sometimes, but we need to make sure it's at the RIGHT time, toward the RIGHT object, and for the RIGHT reason. Someone once defined true spiritual meekness in just that way. We need to get angry as Jesus did! When He got angry, it usually involved those religious people who got angry at everyone else (i.e. Pharisees). You don't see Jesus "going off on" the women at the well, Zacchaeus the tax cheat, or the woman caught in adultery. Think about that last one! She was guilty, but Jesus' response to the angry religious mob who dumped her at His feet is a wake-up call to many; "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." (John 8:1-11) Sure, He deals with her sin..."go and leave your life of sin," but He is kind to her!

Freight trains are not kind. They aren't usually loving, or joyful, or peaceful, or gentle, etc. (You know, the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22,23.) Finally, just because a person is "right" on a particular subject, does it give him or her the right to be mean? Didn't Paul (under the Spirit's inspiration) write in 1 Cor. 13 that being right (i.e. "can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge") without love still leaves you with nothing? Pretty powerful words!

Do we give into sin? Of course not, but we better make sure we're not being freight trains on the warpath for sawdust in other people's eyes while we've neglected to see the planks of our own sin in our eyes. Love people! That's why we're here! Our Father (Who is really good at it) will show you how!

Pretty Powerful Story Teller!

A friend sent this to me today, and I am sure that lots of other folks will be sending it to me in the coming weeks, so this blog is "partially" an attempt to keep my inbox manageable. Seriously, this little girl has a gift. I don't think she was using a teleprompter, but even if she was, her story-telling abilities are pretty is her conclusion. Enjoy, and then ask our Father if you're telling His story with as much passion as this little girl!

Want to know more about Mary Margaret? Here is a news story on her:

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Are You Getting Better?

NO, I haven't ordered an Ipad2 yet (you can't until March 11th!), and I probably won't. The upgrades are nice, but the next "evolution" is expected to be greater still. What I do want to bring to your attention is this. Wait, first, watch this video:

If you are not a technogeek, you might not be impressed, but if you are, or if you own an Ipad, you know that it is a pretty versatile "gadget." I could write several, uh, many, posts on how I've used mine in the past nine months. But that's not the point. Oh, wait, click on this video clip...

So if you had an Apple IIc now...well, you couldn't do anything with it. Apple, like any successful company, continues to improve it's products. Well, Christian can never improve on the "product" of salvation, but are we improving in the depth of our experience with Christ AND with our ability to communicate His message to the world? We demand improvement in whatever we buy, but how often are we quick to accept stagnant relationships with Christ, and communication techniques that no longer work?

Paul wrote to the Philippians, "And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God." (1:9-11)

Hmmm, doesn't sound like you get saved, and remain the same, does it? Throughout the New Testament, believers are called to be disciples, and disciples by their very definition, are students who are expected to GROW and LEARN and ADD to what they already have learned and/or experienced in Christ. God never intended for Ipads to share His Gospel, He expects (and equips) his children to, but I think He's okay with his children using Ipads to share Christ with the lost and encourage believers. Why wouldn't He?

No, you don't need to rush out and get an Ipad, but you do, if you consider yourself obedient to the Lord, need to grow in your faith and in your willingness and ability to communicate it. We are commanded to grow and improve by following Christ, and becoming more and more (get, additive, exponential transformatino) like Him as we are empowered by His Spirit, guided by His word, and connected to and encouraged by His church. This is God's will for all believers.

The gospel never changes, but if we are never willing to change, to grow, or to improve in communicating that gospel, what excuse will we have when we finally see Christ face to face. "Sorry, Lord, but I was too busy researching the best TV (or substitute computer, washing machine, etc.) to buy. Oh, and it took a lot of time reading and practicing how to improve my golf game, too. And watching the Food Channel to learn new ways to cook, that took up time; you didn't want my family to get bored at mealtime did you? I just didn't have time to learn and improve on how I could communicate your love to a lost and dying world in a way they could relate to."

So pray for improvements in your walk with Christ and in the ways you communicate His love and salvation to those who need it.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Being Positive Makes Your Live Longer!

Duke University confirms biblical teaching! Christ said, "Don't worry about anything." (Matt. 6:25-34) Paul said, "Focus on thinking about good and great things." (Phil. 4:8) The researchers at Duke University says doing that makes you live longer. Here is the link:

Trusting Christ as Savior makes you live forever! So go be optimistic (which is just another word for saying you really, really do trust our Father and what He says about life and you)! You may be facing difficult circumstances that I can't imagine, and you may think this is a bunch of garbage because you've either had to or are enduring a lot of pain and suffering. No, I can't understand your situation, but neither can I understand how the famous psychiatrist Viktor Frankl endured the horrors of being in Nazi concentration camps for three years, losing all of his family to torture and the gas chambers (except his sister who escaped), and still emerging with hope. A few favorite quotes:

  • "We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."
  • "When we are no longer able to change a situation – just think of an incurable disease such as inoperable cancer – we are challenged to change ourselves."
  • "Fundamentally, therefore, any man can, even under such circumstances, decide what shall become of him – mentally and spiritually. He may retain his human dignity even in a concentration camp."
His book, "Man's Search for Meaning" was declared as one of the ten most influential books in the U.S. by a survey taken by the Library of Congress. Half of the book is his recounting his day-to-day experiences in the concentration camps. If he could learn to focus on the good above what he saw, then why can't we? Here is a short clip of a presentation he made almost 40 years ago.

I pray that we all would find our meaning in life in Christ, and then allow Him to change the way we think about Him, ourselves, others, our purpose...well, you get the idea!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Thanks for the Journey So Far!

I just wanted to thank my mother for all the "discomfort" she experienced fifty-four years ago today as she gave birth to me. (And all the "discomfort" I may have caused along the way!) Recently I visited Greenwood, SC, where I made my debut, and took a few pictures in case I ever forget where I was born!

This is South Main St. Baptist Church where my parents worshiped on the morning of my birth. I wonder if she was able to pay attention to the sermon? I would arrive at 4:50 pm. What a commitment! If I was nine months pregnant, I probably would have taken a pass that morning! Nothing like being in church on the day you're born! I'm glad my parents started me off right!

I was surprised to see that the original hospital (Self Memorial in Greenwood, SC) still survives amidst the years of renovation and additions. This is a bad attempt at a panoramic ("stitched" two pics together), but you can see the old hospital best here. Wow, born without a single computer in the room (probably in the whole hospital!).

My first home (for 18 months at least)...not looking quite as swift as it did in 1957. I guess the same is true of me! God has been very, very good to me these 54 years. By far, the greatest "earthly" blessings (I say "earthly" to make sure you know my greatest blessing is my relationship with Christ.) have been my family and the many amazing people I have the privilege of calling friends (including, of course, my church family at Denmark as well!)! Thank you all for making my life so great. Oh, and let me thank someone else, too...

Many, LORD my God,
are the wonders you have done,
the things you planned for us.
None can compare with you;
were I to speak and tell of your deeds,
they would be too many to declare.
Psalm 40:5

Monday, February 21, 2011

Detours Can Be Beautiful, Too

This past week I was hurrying (not the same as speeding!) to our Wednesday evening prayer meeting, when traffic backed-up about five miles from town. Being a fair distance away from the top of the hill, I couldn't see what was going on, but knew it was probably an accident. I had to go home a longer, less convenient way, BUT this is what I saw on the detour. (And, yes, I did pull over to take these!) Yes, I would have seen the same sunset, but my regular route did not have the wide-open space needed to get these shots.

The lesson? Don't be in such a hurry, and even when you are, be open to unexpected gifts of grace and beauty. I wonder how much beauty in life I miss because I'm irritated because something (or someone) forced me out of my rut and routine?

"Now listen, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.' Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, 'If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.'” James 4:13-15

So slow down and enjoy the view (and thank the One Who provides it!).

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Great Couple With a Great Story of True LASTING Love!

Mary and Elwood Bunton are long time members (and dear friends of mine!) of my church. Their love story is so cool and wonderful that the Orangeburg (SC) Times and Democrat did a story on them that took up the front page of the features section in this past Sunday's edition. Here is the article:

They are true WWII heroes in my book (and in a lot of other people's books,too!)...and above that, both are devoted Christ followers and pastor encouragers! Their love for each other and for their Savior is obvious to anyone who knows them! They have been consistent, active, loving members of my church family, and I thank God for their continuing ministry at The Oaks, and also for all the encouragement, prayers, support and love they have so generously given (and continue to give) me and so very many others! Way to go Mary and two love birds, you!