I was just thinking … Do we really love one another?

Love is a funny thing. It can be glorious one minute and turn to hate in another. Our love can grow and it can fade. Love can blossom and mature as well as be learned and demonstrated. 

There are many examples for us to observe of love cherished and of love gone bad. I would like to give you an example of love that is perfect. You might have heard that a friend may lay down their life for another. What a friendship that would be. Some may say that they would do such a thing, but would they? Could or would you and I make such a sacrifice? If we did what would be the real benefit to to them? Yes, they would be alive but you, their friend, would be dead. They may be thankful. They may even have cherished memories. But the friendship would be over and mutual benefits would no longer exist. 

What if we could have a friend who would love us so much that they would die for us and yet live again? What if we could have a friend that would never leave us nor turn his back on us? A friend that would never stop loving us? You know the kind of friend that sticks closer to you than a blood brother. What if you could have a friend that would believe in you even when you doubt him? 

You can have a friend like that. Jesus wants to your friend. In fact He wants to be more than your friend, He wants to be Lord and Saviour. What does that mean? It means that Jesus Christ desires to have a close personal relationship with you! Right now, right where you are, no matter the condition of your heart. You heart may be cold or indifferent toward God and mankind. Your heart may filled with darkness and evil. You may feel helpless, even hopeless. No problem. Jesus will meet us where we are, regardless of our past or present condition. Jesus wants to love you and wants you to love Him. Wouldn’t that be the best relationship you’ve ever had? The best friend you’ve ever had? The greatest love you have ever experienced? Ask Jesus to be your Lord and Saviour today. Give Him control of your life. Let Jesus replace the darkness and the evil of your heart with His love and forgiveness. Let His holiness and peace guide your heart, your life. Talk to Jesus, He is listening. Pick up a Bible and turn to the book of John. Read the story of His love you. Your life will never be the same and you will have the friend and the love you have always wanted. 

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I was just thinking … the weather in North Carolina is awesome!

Today is February 12th 2017. Our average temperature is 52 degrees this time of the year. It is currently sunny and 82 degrees. That’s no misprint!  Located between the mountains and the coast our weather fluctuates. Several weeks ago we had a low of 9 degrees and three inches of snow and ice. That is just one of the many things that I love about North Carolina. Maybe everyone feels this way about where they live, but many of us call this God’s country. My bird feeder is covered in Cardinals and Finches. Hawks and crows are squawking but can not drown out the chirps of the crickets and the cry of a distant chain saw.  There is a warm gentle breeze blowing, telling us that the neighbors have the charcoal grill cooking a late afternoon delight. (Hope I get an invite!)

I hope that wherever you are today, you are able to truly enjoy the beauty of this magnificent day that God created for us! Heavenly Father, for everyone who reads this post, I ask  for health, peace, hope and love from You, to be theirs everyday. Amen!

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Snow Brings Out The Kid In Us

I can’t really explain it, but snow seems to bring out the kid in most of us. Maybe it is the innocence of the snow flake or the twinkling flutter of the flakes as they effortlessly float from the sky. Whatever the case may be, I always go back go my childhood every time it snows.

I remember being about four or five years old when a great big snow storm blew through the little town of Lincolnton. We were living in a duplex just a ways from town at the time. My family lived on one side and an aunt and uncle lived on the other. I have always been short for my age (I still am) so for a five-year old a foot of snow was monstrously high! But me and my cousins loved it. My dad would walk around in the snow and then tell us to walk in his steps. This was great for a little while but dad soon forgot that our stride was about a third of his. It wasn’t long before I couldn’t reach the next step or the next or the .. well you get the picture. It was a typical southern snowy day. The sky was bright, wind was blowing, kids were laughing and snot was flowing. (Guess you really didn’t need that detail, but it’s important to the plot of this story. Well it would be if this story had a plot!) It was during one of our follow the leader (dad) trails that I stepped out of one of my snow boots! Normal people would have stopped, retrieved the boot, put the boot back on and continued with follow the leader. I have never been accused of being normal. Left of it but never dead center. It was not too bad walking without my boot at first. Mom had kindly put on us kids every pair of socks we owned so our feet would stay warm. So it took a while before the icy cold snow soaked through and froze my foot. Now as adults, when we get cold, our teeth will chatter, our nose will run and we will complain bout how we have never been cold before. But if kids are having fun, they will become oblivious to symptoms of severe cold, at least for a while. But when the fun slows down and the laughter stops, it’s time for “guess what is wrong with that crying kid.” It’s like a weird game of charades. Amongst the crying, snot bubbles (so glad I could work that into this story) chattering teeth, others kids crying, or them trying to tell you what is wrong with your kid, a parent can go nuts. Unable to decipher what was wrong with me my dad lifted me from the snow and headed toward our front porch. While crossing the yard my dad noticed I was missing a boot. It was then that he got the brilliant idea to ask a freezing, mad and crying five-year old kid, “where is your boot.” If I knew that it would not have been missing!

It was several days before the snow melted enough to find my missing boot. By then us kids had lost other boots, socks and shoes. What wasn’t that day was the joy of being a kid. At my house today there is seven inches of snow. I think its time to be a kid again!

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I was just thinking .. about doing what I have never done before!

Doing something for first time often takes lots courage and forethought. You may need something or someone to ease your fears or boost your confidence. In my case I just needed inspiration.

This past Friday evening my only child, a son, married his beautiful fiancee. Being a pastor of at least 25 years I have performed lots of weddings. And I had used the same wedding ceremony for all of them. Hey, this ceremony was used at my wedding and I have been married for 30 years, so it was good enough for everyone else, right?!

My son and I have a very close relationship. Our love of Jesus, music and guitars amongst other things have helped to formed a tight bond. So, I thought, maybe I could do something different. Like maybe I could write out my own wedding ceremony. Ever tried to write a poem, song or even a book? I have some great titles, a few good ideas (at least I think so) and nothing that has yet to make me famous or rich.

What inspired me to give it a try were two facts: One, I have a brother who also is a preacher and he wrote out the wedding ceremony for his three sons. Secondly, Friday night two very special people got married and I wanted something special for them, about them that reflected them. So, the following is the wedding ceremony I wrote for them, two of the greatest blessings I have ever known!!!

IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, SON AND HOLY SPIRIT, AMEN!

DEARLY BELOVED:
THE BIBLE TELLS US IN THE BOOK OF GENESIS THAT GOD CREATED THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH, AND ALL THAT IS IN THEM. THAT INCLUDES THE CREATION OF MANKIND. AFTER SPEAKING THIS WORLD INTO EXISTENCE, GOD SEPARATED LIGHT FROM DARKNESS, HE SEPARATED THE WATERS INTO DRY LAND AND CREATED THE FISH, FOWL AND ALL THE ANIMALS ON THE EARTH, BOTH SMALL AND GREAT.

THEN GOD, MIGHTY GOD, SAID, LET US MAKE MAN IN OUR IMAGE AFTER OUR LIKENESS. AND THIS HE DID! GOD FORMED MAN OUT OF THE DUST OF THE EARTH AND BREATHED THE BREATHE OF LIFE INTO HIM! AND MAN BECAME A LIVING SOUL. ADAM – THE FIRST HUMAN BEING, AN IMAGE OF GOD BECAME A LIVING, BREATHING SOUL. GOD GAVE MAN RULE OVER ALL THE EARTH – THAT IS RULE OVER ALL HIS EARTHLY CREATION.

GOD TOOK ADAM, THE FIRST MAN AND PUT HIM IN THE GARDEN OF EDEN. ADAM WAS TO KEEP OR WORK THIS BEAUTIFUL PLACE AS WELL TO TEND TO OTHER RESPONIBILITIES THAT WERE GIVIEN TO HIM. WHILE OBSERVING ADAM IN HIS WORK, PLAY AND REST, GOD SAW THAT ADAM WAS NOT QUITE FUFILLED. AFTER GOD GAVE ADAM SOME TIME TO PONDER AND PAROUS ALL THAT HAD BEEN CREATED, THE FULFILLMENT WAS NOT FOUND. AFTER CAUSING A DEEP SLEEP TO FALL UPON ADAM, GOD TOOK A RIB FROM ADAM’S SIDE AND MADE A WOMAN, EVE.

UPON SEEING EVE FOR THE FIRST TIME, ADAM IMMEDIATELY RECOGNIZED HER AS GOD’S BLESSING. EVE, SHE FULFILLED OR COMPLETED ADAM. THEY BECAME SO CLOSE IN THEIR RELATIONSHIP THAT THE TWO BECAME ONE – THAT WOULD THE BIBLICAL FULFILLMENT OF YOUR MARRIAGE, THAT THE TWO OF YOU BECOME ONE BEFORE GOD.

ADAM AND EVE WHERE MADE FOR EACH OTHER. LOOKING FORWARD WE DON’T ALWAYS SEE GOD’S HAND OR HIS PLAN. BUT LOOKING BACK WE SEE WHERE AND HOW GOD IS AT WORK IN OUR LIVES SO LET’S SEE GOD AT WORK!

SARAH, IN YOUR HOME YOU LAUGHED, SANG, AND PLAYED THE PIANO. YOU LEARNED A GREAT APPRECIATION FOR MUSIC – SOMETHING YOUR FUTURE HUSBAND WOULD ALSO HAVE. YOU HAVE TWO OLDER BROTHERS WHO WOULD TEACH YOU MUCH AND HELP MAKE YOU THE STRONG, DETERMINED YOUNG WOMAN YOU HAVE BECOME. IN YOUR HOME YOU LEARNED OF GOD AND EVEN BEGAN A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM THROUGH HIS SON, JESUS.

KEIFER, AS A FOUR YEAR OLD YOU USED SET MOM AND I DOWN ON THE COUCH AND PREACH TO US. A TV TRAY FOR A PULPIT AND AN UPSIDE DOWN MAGAZINE FOR A BIBLE, YOU GAVE US A GLIMPS OF YOUR FUTURE IN JESUS. THERE WERE ALSO SOME MOSTLY FRUITLESS YEARS OF PIANO LESSONS. AND THEN THE MAGIC HAPPENED … GUITAR!!!

KEIFER, SARAH, GATHERED HERE TODAY AND WATCHING FROM HEAVEN ABOVE ARE THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN THE MAJOR INFLUENCES OF YOUR LIVES. THEY PRAY FOR YOU AND CELEBRATE WITH YOU GUYS ON YOUR NEW LIFE TOGETHER.

ADAM TELLS US EVEN MORE ABOUT A GODLY RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN A HUSBAND AND WIFE. HE SAID, “THEREFORE A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND HOLD FAST TO HIS WIFE”.

KEIFER, ON THIS DAY YOUR MOM AND I RECOGNIZE THAT YOU HAVE BECOME YOUR OWN MAN, WITH HOPES, DREAMS AND PLANS FROM OUR HEAVENLY FATHER. THESE INCLUDE A BEAUTIFUL LIFE WITH YOUR BEAUTIFUL BRIDE. SARAH, YOUR PARENTS ALSO RECOGNIZE THESE CHARACTERICS ABOUT YOU. EVEN NOW YOUR DAD STANDS BESIDE YOU, PROUD OF WHO YOU HAVE BECOME AND READY TO GIVE YOU TO YOUR HUSBAND. IN RECOGNITION OF THIS UNION, JOE, DO YOU AND LINDA GIVE THIS GLORIOUS BRIDE TO BE MARRIED TO THIS MAN? (YES, WE DO)

IN COMING TOGETHER AS MAN AND WIFE YOUR PRIORITIES CHANGE. WHILE YOUR MAIN PRIORITY IS TO LOVE AND SERVE GOD, YOU NOW HAVE ELEVATED YOUR PARTNER TO THE POSITION OF SECOND MOST IMPORTANT RELATIONSHIP THAT YOU HAVE. THESE TWO RELATIONSHIPS SHOULD NEVER LEAVE OR LOSE THEIR POSITIONS FOR THEY ARE A REFLECTION OF EACH OTHER. GOD FIRST, SPOUSE SECOND, AND EVERYTHING ELSE THIRD.

LETS TAKE A CLOSER LOOK AT YOUR MARRIAGE RELATIONSHIP. FROM THE BIBLE THE BOOK OF EPHESIANS 5:25 “HUSBANDS, LOVE YOUR WIVES, AS CHRIST LOVED THE CHURCH AND GAVE HIMSELF FOR HER.” THERE IS MORE TO THAT VERSE BUT LETS CONCENTRATE ON THIS PART FOR NOW. “CHRIST LOVED THE CHURCH.” CHRIST DIDN’T LIKE THE CHURCH, WAS NOT INFATUATED WITH THE CHURCH, DIDN’T HANG OUT WITH HER TIL THINGS GOT TOUGH NOR DID HE DESERT HER IN THE HOUR OF HER GREATEST NEED! “TIL DEATH DO US PART” IS A HUGH STATEMENT IN MOST WEDDING CEREMONIES. TODAY, YOU ARE COMMITING YOURSELVES BEFORE GOD, TO A LIFE LONG COMMITMENT TO EACH OTHER, NO MATTER WHAT. JESUS DIED FOR HIS BRIDE, THE CHURCH. YET WHILE HE LIVED ON EARTH, HE LIVED TO SERVE HER, BUILD HER UP, COMFORT HER, PROTECT HER AND DRAW HER TO OUR HEAVENLY FATHER. KEIFER, THIS IS THE KIND OF LOVE YOU SHOULD HAVE FOR SARAH. THEN IN VERSE 22, “WIVES, SUBMIT TO YOUR OWN HUSBANDS, AS TO THE LORD.” FIRST LET ME SAY THAT GOD HAS ORDAINED THE HUSBAND WITH THE RESPONSIBILITY TO BE THE HEAD OF THE HOME. THAT DOES NOT MEAN HE IS THE BOSS OR ULTIMATE ATHORITY. IT MEANS HE LEADS LIKE JESUS. “SUBMIT” MEANS THE WIFE IS NOW UNDER THE RESPONSIBILITY AND CARE OF HER HUSBAND. YOU NO LONGER BELONG TO NOR ARE UNDER YOUR PARENTS, FAMILY AND FRIENDS FOR YOUR PRIMARY LEADERSHIP, LOVE AND RESPONSIBILITY. EVE WAS A HELPER OR PARTNER WITH ADAM. YOU GUYS WOULD DO WELL TO FOLLOW THAT MODEL.

EVEN THOUGH CHILDREN ARE NOT IN YOUR IMMEDIATE FUTURE, YOU WILL ONE DAY BE BLESSED WITH MY GRANDCHILDREN. (HOW DID THAT STATEMENT GET IN THERE?) SPOUSES AND CHILDREN, FAMILY, ARE A CREATION OF GOD’S, UNIQUE BLEND OF PEOPLE LOVING AND CARING FOR ONE ANOTHER. CHILDREN REQUIRE A DELICATE BALANCE IN YOUR MARRIAGE. THEY BRING ADDED RESPONSIBILITY IN SO MANY WAYS. THEY REQUIRE MUCH OF YOUR TIME AND RESOURCES. PRAY, PLAN, PRAY, TEACH, PRAY, HEAL, PRAY NURTURE, PRAY AND RELEASE.

IT SEEMS LIKE YESTERDAY YOU GUYS WERE BEING CARRIED HOME FROM THE HOSPITAL. I CAN’T EXPLAIN THE JOY AND LOVE WE FELT AND STILL FEEL FOR YOU. AND TODAY YOU ARE HERE BEFORE US READY TO STAND TOGETHER AND START YOUR OWN FAMILY.

JOIN RIGHT HANDS:
KEIFER, DO YOU CHOOSE THIS DAY TO TAKE SARAH TO BE YOUR WIFE? WILL YOU LIVE TOGETHER ACCORDING TO GOD’S TEACHINGS? WILL YOU LOVE HER, COMFORT HER, PROVIDE FOR HER BOTH IN SICKNESS AND HEALTH, AND BE TRUE TO HER THROUGH THE REST OF YOUR LIVES?
(IWILL)

JOIN RIGHT HANDS:
SARAH, DO YOU CHOOSE THIS DAY TO TAKE KEIFER TO BE YOUR HUSBAND? WILL YOU LIVE TOGETHER ACCORDING TO GOD’S TEACHINGS? WILL YOU LOVE HIM, COMFORT HIM, PROVIDE FOR HIM BOTH IN SICKNESS AND HEALTH, AND BE TRUE TO HIM THROUGH THE REST OF YOUR LIVES?
(IWILL)

READING OF YOUR VOWS:
SARAH
KEIFER

EXCHANGING OF THE RINGS:
THE RING IS A COMPLETED, UNBROKEN CIRCLE. IT IS A PICTURE OF WHAT YOU DO TO AND FOR EACH OTHER. IN JESUS YOU ARE COMPLETED AND UNITED TIL YOU PART.

SARAH PROMIES: I GIVE YOU THIS RING KEIFER AS A SYMBOL OF MY LOVE AND FAITHFULNESS.

KEIFER PROMIES: I GIVE YOU THIS RING SARAH AS A SYMBOL OF MY LOVE AND FAITHGULNESS.

YOU HAVE PLEDGED YOUR MUTUAL LOVE FOR GOD AND ONE ANOTHER IN MARRIAGE. I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU HUSBAND AND WIFE.

KEIFER, YOU MAY NOW KISS MISS SARAH – YOUR BEAUTIFUL BRIDE.

PRAYER

INTRODUCTION OF BRIDE AND GROOM:

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I was just thinking … New Beginnings!

It is the middle of Janurary. You are probably thinking about how cold the temperatures are and how hard the wind is blowing. Maybe you hear the crackling of a roaring fire or feel the warmth of grandma’s handmade quilted blanket. There could be the shifting of tiny ice cold feet and hands trying to get warm in your bed while the sound of giggles fill the room. Ah … winter.

Anyways it is 70 degrees in Kannapolis North Carolina! T shirts and short pants. Yep its a false start for spring. Even some of my flowers are being fooled into sprouting. The warm temperatures give hope that winter is ending and spring is around the corner. But this is just a prelude to what’s to come. In a few months those little sprouts will be beautiful colorful flowers.

How is the beginning of your new year? Have you already broke your new year’s resolution? If you have why not try again? Maybe you just had a false start. New beginnings can be tough so keep at it. Whatever your striving for could be around the corner.

Now back to the cold. It will get cold and even snowish before winter is over. So bundle yourself up. Wrap up those kids and take them for a walk or sled ride or let them win a snowball fight.

When you tuck them into bed tonight say a prayer for them. Give them a kiss and hug (and another drink of water).

God Bless and thanks for reading.

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I Was Just Thinking … Sometime Life gets in the Way!

Hey, it has been a while since my last post. I didn’t plan it that way, just happened. I made some notes, jotted down some good ideas. Attempts were made to write, but couldn’t think clearly, thoughtfully. Truth is, I really did intend to write again and do it often. This and that happened, something else needed to be done when I wanted to write.

I like to make excuses,don’t you?! There was some good ones this year. Two family members have had heart attacks, also one friend had heart trouble and two of the three had life saving surgeries. There was lots of church ministries and missions to tend to. My family needed some of my time and attention, and my son announced his was getting married in 2013. The grass needed to be mowed and then the leaves needed to be gotten up. I started exercising again, quit again, started again, quit again and currently exercising again. ( Apparently it is more effective if you do it every day or so) You get the picture.

Thinking about not writing made me wonder what else did I intend to do or do more of but didn’t. So, here goes … I intended to love stronger, forgive more, stress less, give more encouragement, pray more and more often with others, hand write and hand deliver more thank you notes, hug longer, kiss more passionately – just my wife, be available to God more – always is the goal, listen patiently – longingly – with more sympathy, to share Jesus more, to tell my wife and son I love them more often – and like I really mean it – cause I do, play longer with children, laugh more, even when your jokes aren’t funny. There was the intent to drink more coffee on the back deck in the morning sun, play my guitar in the evening sun, be more of a friend to my friends and to those who aren’t, to enjoy today – today – yesterday is not as good as today and tomorrow might not get here, just to name a few. So, how about you? Why not make a list and like me, lets do more than pledge, may we do more than survive. Live life, love Jesus …

Thanks for Reading!

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I Was Just Thinking …. About Kids being Kids!

Yesterday was a fun and exciting day at Eva Drive Baptist Church. Most everything we did centered around Christmas – the story of the Christ Child’s birth. There was laughter, singing, preaching, worship …. and kids! Usually we have a children’s church for the little ones in another part of our building but yesterday they stayed with big church for the morning worship. The Bible says, “and a child shall lead them.” And lead them he did!!! After every song our worship team lead the cutest little boy would stand, clap and yell “yea, Yea.” The worship team does a good job – but I believe with that genuine praise and encouragement, they were even better! God truly does know how use a child to touch the hearts of mankind. Soon everyone was encouraging the worship team and more importantly worshipping God.

 

When the afternoon rolled around we came together again for our Christmas program and supper. (yes I said supper – we are Baptist – BBQ, slaw, baked beans, yellow cake!) One of the young ladies in our church wrote a program for our children. It was a combination of original setting and modern telling. (I hear Oscar buzz for our writer – for best Christmas screen play) The children acted it out to perfection! Part of the fun was that most of the kids played multiple parts with costume changes performed on stage. Did I mention they occasionally drifted from the script with unknowingly hilarious ad libs that would make Hollywood jealous! I feel sure that stand up comedy is in the future for a few of these kids – J & J. I am hiding their names till they hire me to be their agent.

 

Jesus is the reason we celebrate Christmas. He is the promised Savour that will deliver mankind from sin. It’s amazing how sometimes God uses children to remind us of this great promise fulfilled!  Merry Christmas!

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